You Don’t Mess with the Shaolin

Liu 8 Diagram Pole Fighter

Having a hard time deciding whether to go see The Love Guru or Get Smart?

Why not grow some hair on your chest by seeing some old-fashioned Shaw Brothers kung fu action instead?

Part of the Los Angeles Film Festival and co-presented the UCLA Film & Television Archive, Shaw Sensation is an archival program of ’70s and ’80s kung fu films from Hong Kong’s esteemed Shaw Brothers film studios, with screenings taking place at the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum.

Sunday night they’re screening The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter, aka Invincible Pole Fighter (1983), choreographer-turned-director Lau Kar-leung’s and actor Gordon Liu’s follow-up of sorts to their masterpiece The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (aka Shaolin Master Killer).

More info and a picture of what happens when you mess with the Shaolin after the jump.

Photo: Gordon Liu in The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Film Festival.

8 Diagram Violence

Not familiar with Shaw Brothers films? The Hong Kong production outfit, modeled after the old Hollywood studio system, was known for their high production values and turned out many of the most famous kung fu films of all time. Wu Tang Clan’s The RZA, a kung fu aficionado who named his rap group’s first album Enter the Wu Tang: 36 Chambers after The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, may have described the Shaw Brothers best when he said, “Seeing Shaw Brothers is like the difference of Corn Flakes versus Frosted Flakes. Corn Flakes? Hmmm. Frosted Flakes? Yeah, I’d care to eat that.”

In The Eight-Diagram Pole Fighter, the Yangs, a patriotic family of soldiers, is slaughtered by the Tartars during the Song Dynasty. Only three brothers—played by Gordon Liu, Alexander fu Sheng (who died in a car crash during filming), and Hsiao Ho—survive the massacre. Gordon Liu seeks refuge in a Shaolin monastery, trains with the monks, develops a new style of pole fighting, and eventually leaves the monastic life to kick some secular ass.

Other films screening as part of the Shaw Sensation series include The Boxer from Shantung (1972) on Wednesday, Hong Kong Nocturne (1967) on Friday, and The Singing Thief (1969) next Saturday.

And after you’ve grown that woolly thatch of hair on your chest, head on over to your local Target and pick up the Man Groomer.

Photo: Still from Eight Diagram Pole Fighter. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Film Festival.