Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Another Disappointing Experience

Until last weekend, I had never seen a Shaw Brothers film in a theater, and I thought I may never have the opportunity. Imagine my delight when I found out that "Avenging Eagle" and "The Duel" were playing at the New Beverly Cinema (a great revival theater), right here in LA! "Finally" I thought. "Finally I'll get to actually watch these movies with other kung fu fans!"
Not only was the theater less than half full (despite the fact that Quentin Tarantino himself chose the programming and introduced the films), but it was clear by audience reactions that none of these people were even remotely familiar with this genre of film. The only actor that got any sort of applause from the audience during the previews or the films was Lee Van Cleef during the "Stranger and the Gunfighter" trailer.
Lee Van Cleef!
Lo Lieh? Who's that? There was even a muffled giggle when he came on the screen. I still don't know what that was about.  I couldn't hold back a "WHOOT!" when Tarantino mentioned Fu Sheng after "Avenging Eagle", seeing as during the credits, no one clapped for either Fu Sheng or Ti Lung. Someone had to represent.
The audience laughed heartily during "Avenging Eagle" (Ku Feng was killing people for some reason), but during "The Duel", which was dubbed, the few people who had actually stayed for the film were laughing like crazy. Of course there are hilarious moments in many Shaw Brothers flicks, I mean sometimes the wigs alone are enough. I'd feel differently if I thought they also appreciated the films, but I wasn't getting that impression. I mean, come on. How many times can you really laugh at someone scaling an impossibly high wall? It happens so many times in so many SB flicks that you'd think the audience would get tired of laughing. You'd be wrong. 
There were in the audience, I'm sure, a couple of real fans. Really quiet fans. This definitely includes the guy wearing an "Avenging Eagle" t-shirt and sitting in the front row. Kudos to you, my friend. And much to my surprise and delight, Quentin Tarantino did actually impress me with his knowledge and his appreciation for the films.
As a fitting end to the somewhat disappointing evening, the theater was playing "Friday" after the Shaw Brothers double feature, and the line was around the block. Then I mysteriously got explosive diarrhea. WTF.
*Ahem*. Anyway, here's what I'm trying to say: I thought there would be more people there, and I thought they would be more familiar and appreciative of the genre. I got the feeling that most people there just wanted to see Tarantino, or have a laugh.
In my everyday life, I'd already given up trying to persuade people to understand why I enjoy these films so much. I never thought I'd  have to put up with that same feeling of isolation while watching them with an audience in a revival theater.


  1. I feel you completely. It's happened to me too. We are human and they are idiot ass!

  2. Here here, achillesgirl! I wanted to smack a bitch.

  3. Great rundown & summary you gave us ...!
    Tragic experience ..;( But maybe it ties in with the current trend of the actual big screen movie goers these days is like 12 years old or so ?? & If they happen to be older in years their brains froze at 12 ..
    I just don't know about HUMANS achillesgirl

  4. Thanks Athena! None of the movie goers were 12, but they certainly behaved as if they were. Oh well, at least I got to see 2 Shaw movies on the big screen, which was great!

  5. Amber, you are not alone but simply among a small group of fans who approach these films with the same level of sincerity in which they were made. If other people are so "sophisticated" or "cool" that they like to laugh at things foreign to their experience, then it's really their loss. Nonetheless it does *suck* when it ruins your big night out.

    BTW, I really love your paintings!

  6. Eugh. Consider yourself lucky with that audience. I even went to a screening of The Road Warrior at a late showing in a theater. A friend of mine is a die hard fan of the film and left utterly devastated when other people in the theater went nuts screaming and making fun of everything like it was Mystery Science Theater.

  7. Thanks duriandave. I consider myself lucky to be part of such a small, but distinguished group with all of you!
    Yeah OneMoreBullet, I understand how your friend must have felt. Sometimes it's better to just watch films at home, sadly.

  8. One of these days, I'd love to catch a flick with you. Then you can explain all the AWESOME to me, and I can enjoy becoming a new fan. Definitely, text me or call me some day, to come join you!

  9. Thanks Cat, we'll go geek out together!

  10. I attended this screening, too, and felt similarly to you. Unfortunately, I've gotten used to this kind of mocking attitude towards this fine genre. These idiots will never get it!

    It used to drive me nuts that Woo's THE KILLER was marketed as "camp" in the U.S. Excuse me?!

    By the way, I heard your WHOOT! and looked around to see who was WOOTING. Now I know :-)

  11. Thanks Phantom of Pulp, it's good to know there was a kindred spirit in the audience.
    Also, "The Killer" is not camp! People...