Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Sir Run Run Shaw [1907 - 2014]

in the late '70s, early '80s, before the ubiquity of the VCR and watching movies at home, a family friend introduced me and my brothers to the splendors of The Star Theater, a little grindhouse located on the K St Mall that played kung fu movies.

i went to school at that theater.  street people would take shelter in it.  drug deals were made in it.  the bathrooms were unspeakable.  rats roamed the aisles and i remember one afternoon when many of the theater seats started to collapse with their occupants sitting inside.

the Star Theater was owned and operated by a chinese family that imported their movies from hong kong.  i remember the posters hanging in the lobby for films like drunken master and iron monkey and hundreds more i don't recall the names of.  stars with names like bruce li and bruce le would festoon these works of art complete with a flying kick and/or a pair of nunchucks. 

this is the theater where i was introduced to the movies of sir run run shaw.  these kung fu epics were wild, masterly action films.  often they were horribly dubbed and the editing was sloppy.  but their flaws were part of their artistry.  i love these movies and i would get supercharged watching them. 

sir run run shaw lived a very long life.  he died today at the age of 106.  his studio was prolific and i have no doubt that his kind of hong kong cinema shaped world film culture.

below is the title logo for the Shaw Bros. studio that preceded most of shaw's films.  watching it again makes me wistful for that tattered grindhouse that lives today only in memory.


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