In the month of January, I watched eleven Shaw Bros. movies. This is noteworthy for a number of reasons, not the least of them because, prior to that, I had seen… one? Maybe two, depending on whether you count their joint production with Hammer, Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires. It’s possible that I have seen others without remembering or realizing it, over the years, but the number is small, is the point, and over the last month I have certainly much more than doubled it.
This came about because I received a review copy of the very nice Shawscope Vol. One box from Arrow Video, and I have been trying to work my way through it for an eventual piece. I’m not quite there yet, either. There are two movies left to go – there’s a lot of movies in this box – but I’m getting close.
Interestingly, at the same time, I also watched a few of the latest Marvel movies that I had missed because there was a plague on. Now, those who have followed along for a while here know that I am, broadly speaking, a person who enjoys Marvel, and Marvel movies, and, more to the point, not someone who likes to rag on modern movies and go on about how movies were better “back in my day,” notwithstanding that every movie in this Shawscope set was made before I was born.
And yet, it bears mentioning that, with the exception of Mighty Peking Man, which really didn’t do it for me, the worst movie in this Shawscope set is at least several notches above the best offering from the latest batch of Marvel films. (The new Spider-Man possibly notwithstanding – I haven’t seen it yet.)
I’m not really here to rag on the recent slate of Marvel movies, though, as much as I am to just say what a joy it’s been to dig through all of these old Shaw Bros. pictures. I’ll have more coherent, and hopefully thoughtful, thoughts on them in the eventual piece (likely at Unwinnable) that will come out of all this, but it’s just been a lot of fun to get a much fuller view of a slice of cinema that I’ve long been aware of but have rarely seen.
That said, I’ll admit that these flicks (which are all kung fu pictures, with the exception of the aforementioned Mighty Peking Man) are not necessarily well-suited to binge-watching. Like any other very specific sub-field, even my beloved Hammer gothics, they get a bit same-y after you mainline enough of them all in a row. But thus far that hasn’t hampered my ability to appreciate the distinct pleasures each one offers, nor dimmed my enthusiasm to put on the next disc in line.
The other thing that makes it noteworthy that I watched all these movies in the month of January is that it’s vaguely miraculous that I managed to make time to watch anything at all. Chalk it up to basically not being able to leave the house because of the plague, I guess, but I’ve been incredibly busy in the month of January, working on a semi-secret licensed tabletop gaming project that is not terribly hard to guess the particulars of for anyone who has been following along at all.
It has eaten up pretty much all of my time that hasn’t been devoted to watching people kick one-another, and I’m looking forward to being able to discuss it at greater length hopefully very soon. In the meantime, you can read my weirdo thoughts on Matt Wagner’s Grendel and the Saw franchise in the latest issue of Exploits, if you’re so inclined…