Author Signing in LA: The Ultimate Guide to the Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s

BOOK COVER-not the backWhen we think of Fant-Asia films, it’s that genre of Hong Kong martial arts film made during the 1980s up to the mid-‘90s, which uniquely combined elements of sex, fantasy, sci-fi and horror with high-flying wire work and over the top martial arts choreography.  But of course most folks who have been watching these sort of films for decades now know that the foundation for these movies originates from what the Chinese call the  wuxia pian, martial chivalrous-hero film, the first genre of martial arts movies created during the 1920s in Shanghai. This genre really took off in the 1970s and took some interesting twists and turns during that decade, things that are discussed throughout my recently published book The Ultimate Guide to the Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s

This weekend I have a book signing in the Los Angeles area, of which I would like to invite all cinefantastique fans to attend this event where it would be my pleasure to meet and greet my fellow Fant-Asia/martial arts film buffs and of course sign my book for you. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010, 2:00 pm, at Dark Delicacies; 3512 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA  91505 

FromDavidTadman-3To me and other martial arts film fans like auteur Quentin Tarantino, when it comes to martial arts cinema, the 1970s is the most important decade for the genre. Apart from kung fu films becoming an international phenomena and being brought to the masses, the 1970s had major breakthroughs in wuxia movie fight choreography and filmmaking. As it turns out it is also the decade where we saw the rise of the genre’s most influential actors/directors that even most Americans today have heard of such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, John Woo and Yuen Woo-ping. Of course to old school martial arts film fans this list would include the likes of the Five Venoms, Sonny Chiba, Chen Kuan-tai, Jimmy Wong, David Chiang, Ti Lung, Wang Lung-wei, the Liu brothers and hundreds more. In fact, over 20 countries cumulatively made >2150 martial arts films during the 1970s. Can you list these 20 countries? 

But the main impetus for writing my just published coffee-table book, The Ultimate Guide to the Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s, goes way beyond this, it was literally a matter of life and death. 

When I was 16, my doctor told me I’d be dead in five years due to the deadly effects of the lung/digestive disease cystic fibrosis (CF). At that time I was taking 30 pills/day and in the hospital every three months. After watching Bruce Lee’s Fists of Fury I went from being depressed and waiting to die, to wanting to live and learn what Lee was doing. 

As I began practicing martial arts, I read about Qigong and how weak dying children in ancient China would learn this skill and become strong heroes of China. So I moved to Taiwan, found a teacher and five months after learning Qi and to this day, I’ve been off all medication and therapies since. To show my health improvement was not superficial, in 1986 I walked 3000.2 miles across America, 26 miles/day, 4.1-4.5 mph pace. 

If not for kung fu film, martial arts and Qi, I would be dead. 

Craig-With Jackie Chan 1992The Ultimate Guide is also a book born out of 20 years in the film industry that includes being the first American regular stuntman in Chinese kung fu films and TV in Taiwan in the 1970s (token white dude that got my butt kicked in by a different Chinese kung fu star every couple of months), learning fight choreography from Jackie Chan, being Sam Raimi’s fight choreographer, being a fight directing apprentice on Sammo Hung’s Martial Law, and on a unique front I was a dubber of Chinese kung fu films…yes, those badly English-dubbed films that became an integral part of American pop culture in the ’70s and ’80s (always a fun and interactive topic of discussion at film festivals). 

During an intense eight-month period I watched over 600 martial arts films and wrote on 500+ movies. Each review, or as I say “martialogy” (biology of a martial arts film), features a concise plot summary, behind-the-scenes reel and real history, fight statistics, insights into martial arts choreography and style, and many surprising factoids. For example, did you know that the real Five Venoms only did three films together?  

When I started my video collection back in the 1970s (up to 5,000 films now with 1200 on betamax) it bothered me that I would buy three different titled films starring different actors only to find out that it was the same movie. Thus the second part of this comprehensive book has a definitive index of over 2000 actors/directors/fight choreographers and their aliases, and a complete list by country of every single martial arts film made during the 1970s along with all of their alternative English titles. Furthermore, the Chinese film titles are in Chinese with English translations. 

Of great interest to martial arts film fans and book collectors, the book contains 150, never before published color photos from 150 Shaw Brothers kung fu films from the 1970s. Additionally, each martialogy includes fight statistics that tells the reader how many fights each film has and how much time in minutes and seconds is dedicated to actual martial arts fighting and training sequences i.e. Fights for the Buck. 

Craig-GordonLiuThe Ultimate Guide to the Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s is in essence a book on Asian history, martial arts history and martial arts cinema history. The development and secrets of Hong Kong’s wild and wooly fight choreography and wire-fu styles are also succinctly revealed not via research but from my hands-on experience learning these techniques during my tenure as a stuntman/actor/fight choreographer in the Chinese kung fu film and TV industry. From this we see the amazing progenitors of Fant-Asia films come to life, where in 1977 we see the first real martial arts horror film of all time take Asia by storm, a movie that rivals any of the Universal horror films of the 1950s. 

I hope to see you all at Dark Delicacies on Saturday, where my wife will be handing out free Qi Twigs, a root she found that helps one’s qi glow, ergo one’s health. You’ve got to try them to believe them.

About the Author

Craig D. Reid

DR. CRAIG D. REID wrote a cover story for Imagi-Movies on fantasy films from Asia before going on to write a regular column for Cinefantastique called “Fant-Asia.” He now revives the column for Cinefantasitque Online.

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