If you were like me and many kids around my age, you remember eating your cereal Sunday morning looking for cartoons on your outdated – twist knob – semi colored TV with antenna.
At that time, there were only 13 channels. 4 or 5 really good ones. On Sunday mornings you were stuck with Davey and Goliath. (OK cause they were short animated religion stories), but we would sit around and wait for the Sunday Afternoon Movies.
Yes, we would get Westerns, Comedy, Mild Horror and/or then Martial Arts!
This particular article will be about The Shaw Brothers Studios, which specialized in Wuxia Movies.
Wuxia (武俠, IPA: [ù.ɕjǎ]), which literally means “martial heroes”, is a genre of Chinese fiction concerning the adventures of martial artists in ancient China. Although Wuxia is traditionally a form of literature, its popularity has caused it to spread to diverse art forms such as Chinese opera, manhua, films, television series and video games. It forms part of popular culture in many Chinese-speaking and cult communities around the world.
The word “wuxia” is a compound composed of the elements wu (literally “martial”, “military”, or “armed”) and xia (literally “honourable”, “chivalrous”, or “hero”). A martial artist who follows the code of xia is often referred to as a xiake (literally “follower of xia”) or youxia (literally “wandering xia”). In some translations, the martial artist is referred to as a “swordsman” or “swordswoman” even though he or she may not necessarily wield a sword.
These Wuxia Movies are Fiction. Fantasy based. The heroes in wuxia fiction typically do not serve a lord, wield military power or belong to the aristocratic class. They often originate from the lower social classes of ancient Chinese society. A code of chivalry usually requires wuxia heroes to right and re-dress wrongs, fight for righteousness, remove oppressors, and bring retribution for past misdeeds. Chinese xia traditions can be compared to martial codes from other cultures such as the Japanese samurai‘s bushido tradition.
The Shaw Brothers are Top Notch Filmakers who started in Shanghai in the 1920’s by six enterprising brothers. Taking root in, then British, Hong Kong in 1958 with the construction of the largest privately-owned film studio in the world at the time, the Shaw Brothers produced one thousand films (many of which are now Chinese cinema classics) over the next three decades, amassing the largest Chinese film library ever. In 1973, Sir Run Run Shaw launched TVB, Hong Kong’s first wireless commercial television station. By the 80’s, Hong Kong real estate values were soaring to the stratosphere, and many of the large Shaw cinemas were gradually converted into other commercial uses. Sir Run Run grew TVB into one of the top 5 television producers in the world, based on output, and the world’s largest Chinese-language content provider. In order to focus on its burgeoning television activities, Shaw Brothers started to pull back on feature film production in the mid 1980’s.
The Shaw Bros. Studio’s films were seen worldwide, and became a significant part of global popular cinema, like the Hollywood classics or the “Bollywood” masala film. As such, they have been an important inspiration for contemporary filmmaking, from Wong Kar-wai to American big-budget studio action movies. Beyond that, these films (particularly the martial arts titles) are supremely beautiful examples of cinema as a medium of bodies in motion, transferring an almost kinetic charge to the audience in the theater.
If you have ever seen a Shaw Brothers Movie – You know it and You’d ‘d never forget it. They start out with an MGM Like logo (Leo the Lion) and then Fade to the Celestial Pictures Woman. You know something great is about to happen! Shaw Brothers released over 760 films with Celestial, with the majority of them based on Novels with thousands of pages. The way they depict the stories, remaining true to the originals are amazing. The sets and scenery are magical. The Direction and Actors are unparalled. Many, with which are expert fighters. True, if you are not used to subtitles, you may get a little lost, at first. But by the second and third times, you’ll be hooked. If you are looking for romance or happy endings, hang in there, they do occur, every once in awhile.
You can find some Dubbed Versions here and there on You Tube, but for the most part they are blocked due to Copyright Infringement Laws.
A New Era for Shaw Brothers
The new millennium brings a new era to Shaw Brothers. With a HUGE CULT Following, the world’s most advanced film production and digital post production facility is nearing completion on a beautiful hillside site in Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong. Multitudes of Films have been remastered and re-released through the decades and now are available for streaming.
Most die-hard Fans still prefer having DVD’s or Blue Rays, but hey, what ever tickles your fancy.
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