These Fists Break Bricks


One of the most entertaining and informative of recent film books, Chris Poggiali and Grady Hendrix’ These Fists Break Bricks: How Kung Fu Movies Swept America and Changed the World, examines the 1970s and 1980s Kung Fu movie phenomenon. In particular, the book looks at how martial arts action movies were enthusiastically received by Black and Asian American audiences and what influence they had on emerging forms of pop culture, especially Hip hop. We will celebrate this cinematic era and the release of the book March 4-6 when we present six spectacular, bone-crunching Kung Fu classics that will put the spotlight back on some of the genre’s biggest stars like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Sonny Chiba, and Jimmy Wang Yu. Grady Hendrix and Chris Poggiali will be with us to provide fun and enlightening introductions for each of the screenings.

  • Fri., Mar. 4 | 6:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

In an early 20th century Shanghai where colonialist rule by the Japanese is fast encroaching, a martial arts prodigy (Lee) leads his fellow students in revolt when their master is killed by members of a Japanese dojo. Action packed and politically charged, this is the best of the three starring vehicles Lee made for Hong Kong studios before he conquered Hollywood with Enter the Dragon.

  • Fri., Mar. 4 | 8:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

Made less than three years after Bruce Lee passed away, The Dragon Lives Again is “the one Bruceploitation movie to rule them all, and the most famously berserk disaster-piece ever to come out of Hong Kong. [The story] follows Bruce to Hell, where the King of the Underworld tells him he can escape back to Earth but only if he fights an army of copyright-infringing characters: Dracula! Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name! James Bond! The Godfather! And Japan’s blind swordsman, Zatoichi! There’s also an army of skeletons. Aiding Bruce are Popeye, the spinach-chugging sailorman (played by Hong Kong director and star, Eric Tsang), and Caine from the TV series Kung Fu (not played by David Carradine). Sexy ladies scream for Bruce…and things hit overdrive in a sexy subplot in which softcore starlet Hong Kong Emmanuelle tries to take over Hell by screwing the King of the Underworld to death” (Chris Poggiali & Grady Hendrix, These Fists Break Bricks).

  • Sat., Mar. 5 | 2:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

In his first of three appearances as the ass-kicking, skull-busting Terry Tsurugi, Chiba established one of the most iconic and violent personas in martial arts movies. Terry’s a mercenary hired by both the Yakuza and the American mafia to kidnap an heiress. When he isn’t paid, Terry decides to do what he can to protect the wealthy young woman.

  • Sat., Mar. 5 | 4:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

Initially launched as a leading man in a series of imitation Bruce Lee vehicles, Jackie Chan found international superstardom with this Kung Fu comedy classic. Chan plays an initially clumsy everyman who trains and attains mastery of the martial arts, inventing a new form of Kung Fu along the way. Chan’s trademark style is here fully realized: acrobatic fighting with precise comic timing and jaw-dropping stunts performed, of course, by Jackie Chan himself. Director Yuen Woo-Ping later choreographed the martial arts sequences in The Matrix, Kill Bill, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

  • Sat., Mar. 5 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

In this kinetic and hilarious Kung Fu classic, the blind and furiously eyebrowed title character ruthlessly stalks the the one armed boxer that killed his students (and any other one armed guy that he happens to come across). He comes armed only with a murderous device that is a combination beekeeper’s hat, Frisbee, and battle sword. It’s a mean machine – chops your head off clean! This is the undisputed masterpiece from Kung Fu cult superstar and complete auteur Wang Yu, who counts Quentin Tarantino among his most fervent admirers.

  • Sun., Mar. 6 | 2:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

When an emperor’s son is accused of treason against the throne, he ends up in a fight for his life against all comers. The Kung Fu craze literally entered another dimension with this swords-and-fists-in-your-face 3-D action spectacular. Beautifully restored by the 3-D Film Archive, this digital presentation gives the effects and images of Dynasty a sparkling clarity they never had in its original theatrical release.