For some ’80s Houston kids, few things were happier than Saturday morning cartoons and then an afternoon stint at the Kung Fu Theater on UHF channels.
Dubbed “chopsocky” movies, these martial arts movies boasted plotlines, over-the-top special effects and dialogue, and copious amounts of violence – in short, a haven for rowdy fans, especially those who play scenes in front of their TV.
Now fans of all ages can relive that kung fu glory thanks to Asia Society Texas. Kung Fu Movie Nights a showcase of Hong Kong martial arts films – all screened outdoors. This showcase focuses less on campy movies made famous for lines like “your kung fu is pretty good,” and instead focuses on seminal, groundbreaking, and historically significant titles.
The high-flying fun starts at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 8 and continues on select Fridays through June. Guests are welcome to bring their chairs and blankets to stretch out on the lawn at the Asia Society Center. Free refreshments are offered by Asahi Beer (by the way), while food, other drinks and snacks will be on sale.
Tickets are $5 for Asian society members; $10 for non-members. Here is the lineup, description and schedule.
Enter the dragon: Friday, April 8
Fittingly, the series kicks off April 8 with martial arts’ greatest icon, Bruce Lee, and his action-packed 1973 outing that catapulted the legendary actor from regional hero to international superstar.
Although fans need no reminder, Enter the Dragon pits Lee against a brutal tournament on a remote island fortress as he attempts to bring to justice the drug lord responsible for his sister’s death. Dragon is particularly memorable for its memorable mirrored maze fight scenes.
the grand master: May 13
Tony Leung stars in the action epic inspired by the life of legendary kung fu master Ip Man. Grandmaster features stunning locations from the snowy landscapes of northeast China and the region’s subtropical south, along with captivating performances and action sequences. The story covers the tumultuous republican era that followed the fall of the last Chinese dynasty.
Once upon a time in China: May 27 at 8:30 p.m.
This blockbuster helped cement this hugely talented Jet Li as the greatest martial arts superstar of his generation. Set in 19th century China, this film shows the hanged martial arts teacher and physician Wong Fei and his band of followers facing enemy forces – foreign and local – who threaten Chinese sovereignty, as do British and American imperialists. encroach on the country.
Once upon a time is hailed for its blend of comedy, romance, melodrama and, of course, martial arts mastery.
Police Story: June 17 at 8:30 p.m.
Jackie Chan spins, flips, kicks and flies to international stardom with his inventive martial arts prowess and equally acerbic comedic timing. Chan directs and stars – and does his own stunning stunts – in the rock-’em-sock-’em story of a Hong Kong police inspector trying to protect a star witness from an infamous drug lord.
Expect Chan’s trademark goofiness, slapstick hijinks, and seemingly impossible choreography, especially in a mall melee scene. Released in 1985, Police Story would become a widely copied standard in Hong Kong and Hollywood.
Asia Society Kung Fu Movie Nights are held select Fridays through June at the Asia Society Texas, 1370 Southmore Blvd. For tickets and more information, visit Official website of the series. $5 to $10.