October 17th, 2008

The Most Beautifullest Things In This World pt. 1: The beatings will now begin.

Those who visited the now-defunct Bad(ass) Movies channel on Mogulus may have seen something that is close to the hearts of many 30-something Kung-Fu flick junkies. That’d be this:

That is the intro to Kung-Fu Theater. When I was a young’un back in the 80’s, this show would start right when the Saturday Morning Cartoons were over and delivered a weekly dose of cinematic assbeatery. Words, especially as clumsily as I use them, cannot express how much I looked forward to seeing that promo. During the original run you could catch anything from a Shaw Brothers classic like Superninjas (“Secret Weapons? YA BASTIDS!!!”) to a movie where, I swear to Grodd, a Kung-Fu master rides a wooden horse and increases his power by drinking urine. No, I’m not making that up and I have the tape somewhere. This show lead to a lot of things.

1.) 2:01 PM: I believe that Kung-Fu Theater started at noon and ended at 2:00 PM. At 2:01 PM, tons of male children in our apartment complex ran outside and began to fake-fu and beat the Wooden Horse Piss out of each other. Imagine the forest fight from Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain redone with kids fighting with broomstick bo staffs, improvised nunchacku (more on that later) and their tiny bare hands. Describing these wars with the word “epic” would be a insult to our life-and-death struggles beneath the Saturday afternoon sun and above the parking lot asphalt. No one really hit each other but you couldn’t tell because years of beat boxing gave us the power to provide all the necessary sound effects of beating each other to death. I think back on it now and, dammit, we were some amazing and psychotic kids.

2.) Improvised Nunchaku: Some kids bring out some kind of stick to use as a bo staff and most of us rolled into the fray barehanded like Golden Arms, leader of the Chi Sah gang. A few of us possessed a power developed by Poison Clan of the Five Deadly Venoms (especially the Lizard). No one was more brave than the few who had the cast iron nerve to take one of their mother’s broomsticks, cut it in half, attach each half to a piece of rope and wade into battle with the almighty Improvised Nunchaku. On the Universal Scale of Weaponry, it still ranks above the Fatal Flying Guillotine and Mike Haggar’s lead pipe but slightly below the Eternian Power Sword and the Crissaegrim. Why was it so fearsome? Imagine the beating you’d get for cutting one of your mother’s broomsticks in half. Yeah. Due to this, the Improvised Nunchaku was the sign of a true B.M.F. of the highest order.

3.) Influence: This show was the reason that I got addicted to the genre and love these movies by the pound. Most Hollywood action flicks are pretty predictable in how people fight. But Kung-Fu movies seem to have an infinite amount of ways to beat someone down with the human hand or foot and that’s before you start bringing in both real and imaginary weapons. I didn’t care if the movies didn’t always make sense or that the voices and mouths didn’t sync properly. So what? Those movies were high-octane awesome and reality need not apply in this kind of escapism. Beyond the violence, I always loved the constant underdog status that many of the movies had. The theme of rebels fighting the Chings or Japanese occupation had a social resonance beyond its own setting. Plus, you can’t beat watching people fight social injustice by kicking the hell out of it.

Aw hell yeah. This was back when I started to make up my own characters and I thought it’d be cool to have a martial arts character. I didn’t know that much about martial arts so I made him a ninja superhero so I put “that weird swirly thing from the beginning of Kung Fu Theater” on Snake-Eyes’ comic book outfit. After years of changes, that character became the man that you see to the side of this text: Twofold. ORIGINAL CHARACTER DON’T STEAL. Sorry, that’s an internet habit. Seriously, if Kung-Fu Theater never existed or even had that intro, I never would’ve made Twofold. Many of the supporting characters like his teacher Master Hsu and Sean Chan were inspired by sitting in front of Grandma Marva’s big floor model TV to watch the adventures in this world that was just as exciting, heroic, violent and bugged-out as the comic books I was already hooked on. These movies also inspired my appreciation of the Beat-Em-Up video game genre of games like Final Fight, Double Dragon and Streets of Rage. That love is on display on a certain fansite that I created that lead to me making a lot of great online friends. I don’t care how corny that sounds, because it’s damned true. So as much as I thank all the filmmakers, directors, actors, teachers and others who made those flicks possible, I also want to thank the gang who put USA’s Kung Fu Theater and especially those who made that intro. I owe that person a lot. Maybe even a pair of Improvised Nunchaku.

One Response to “Most Beautifullest: Kung Fu Theater”

  1. damn fine trailer. Classic.

    Great you fu selection too.