THE TAO OF RIC & A FISTFUL OF MEYERISMS PART 4
SHAW WARS--EPISODE IV: A NEW DOPE
"I've talked to people who have supposedly visited the Shaw's vaunted film vaults. It's a dusty, non-air conditioned cellar with virtually no shelving and rotting celluloid. So I wasn't surprised when the movies never appeared over the years. It's my theory that they don't exist. The only reason Run Run would hold onto them is if he thought he could out-live all the filmmakers, stars, and their families (and the way he's going, he very well might)." *--An apparently vengeance seeking Meyers continuously spoke ill of Shaw's legacy for years. Mere moments after the films finally surfaced in restored format on DVD and VCD in Hong Kong, Ric's tune changed from melancholic to melodic totally forgetting statements he made like the one above.
On his numerous and immensely erroneous audio commentaries, Meyers has a predilection for insulting, condescending, and, in some instances, racists remarks. At the same time, he condemns the racism in the American film industry towards Asians, but yet he is a participant himself! One of his many running jokes is his deep heated animosity towards the Shaw Brothers while professing his love for their movies all at the same time. According to Meyers, he was sent out to HK by World Northal to negotiate a sixth Black Belt Theater package. Why he couldn't negotiate a deal from America before wasting a trip to Hong Kong is anyone's guess. By his own admission, he briefly spoke with Hong Kong's biggest movie mogul on the phone where the extent of the conversation involved the word "NO". Meyers apparently tried to peddle his book on him and Shaw wasn't interested. Who could blame the HK mogul for not giving a shit, right? He obviously knew what so many still do not know today. Since that time from the mid 80s up to the early 2000s, Meyers has instigated a mudslinging campaign to paint the Shaw's in as bad a portrait as possible. Shaw should probably just go ahead and accept his book so he can go back to loving him again.
Meyers seemingly carried with him a severely bruised ego because his book was rejected by the main subject he had written about. Over the course of half a dozen or more DVD commentary tracks, he carried on this tradition by furthering his false allegations that the Shaw motion picture library had been destroyed in a fire, were being held hostage by Shaw, or had simply rotted away and dissolved. You'll notice a trend even today by which the man holds a grudge if his works aren't appreciated such as the KUNG FU PANDA 2 (2010) and FILMS OF FURY debacles which was discussed in a previous chapter.
In addition, the mythomaniacal Meyers has repeatedly made Shaw out to be this greedy, money grubbing scrooge, a stigma he still perpetuates today. Shaw did seem to have some tight-fisted ways, but not on the level of severity in which Meyers portrays him. As discussed previously, he was a businessman and his Movie Town (modeled on the old Hollywood studio system where actors and technicians were under contract), was treated much like a factory, and an extravagant one at that. Over the years the Shaw's (there are six of them, mind you) have consistently given to charity, donated money for scholarships and given care packages that include food and money to the poor every Chinese New Year among other things. That doesn't sound like a money grubbing penny pincher to me. But then, what the hell do I know? I'm not a leading authority on the genre like Ric Meyers is.
ROLLICKIN' RIC'S RUDE & RACIST REMARKS
"The Thais have not made a single one yet...They won’t. Look at the culture. I won’t say never. Never say never but it’s unlikely." *--Meyers giving advice to an interviewer to look at Thai culture as to why they are incapable of making good action movies. (craveonline.com interview; June 2011)
On other commentaries, interviews and in his books--when he isn't insulting our intelligence--Meyers even makes these somewhat racist comments towards Asian culture, which are quoted verbatim throughout this article and in the accompanying list. He states 99.9% of their movies were unscripted regardless of a credited screenwriter. Yes, I'd say it's a logical assessment that some of the cheaper movies were made up as they went along (this is done in American movies, too; scripts are changed during production, sometimes at the last minute; new additions are added daily, etc), but when you attribute the alleged lack of a script to ILLITERACY (as he does on the FISTS & GUTS commentary), you're crossing the line of good taste. Meyers also manages to insult Asian filmmakers when he makes a spiteful remark that they hadn't invented the wheel yet in regards to the use of dollies; at least not till Meyers' idol, Jackie Chan, used them in the mid 80s. The actual quote was in the previous article (part 3) at #69 on the Meyerisms list. Tracks for dollies were in use as far back as 1972 at Shaw Brothers studio--as one of the accompanying photos attests--and likely much earlier than that.
Meyers also states on this commentary track that there were no production meetings of any sort giving the impression that the Chinese filmmakers just ran off into the wild or down into a rock quarry somewhere with a camera and made a quick flick.
On the opposite end of this spectrum, in 1999, Meyers, in his ACC column, condemned an article that listed a bunch of translated Chinese titles of American movies as outright racism. Examples of this include such juicily mangled titles as GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE, which, in Asia, supposedly became BIG DUMB MONKEY MAN KEEPS WHACKING TREE WITH GENITALS and Pam Anderson's horrendous BARBED WIRE morphed into DELICATE ORBS OF WOMANHOOD BIGGER THAN YOUR HEAD CAN HURT YOU. This and more allegedly appeared in the New York Times in November of 1998. Supposedly, this article was written by a reporter who took an obvious comedic internet parody as fact. Meyers seizes an opportunity to rally sympathy with this all the while maintaining his "walking contradiction" status by attaching such words as "inaccurate" and "misinformed"; two words that are wholly applicable to both himself, and his own works of martial fiction that have passed for fact for what amounts to over three decades.
This is the sort of thing both he and Weisser would get up to and how convenient that this is discussed within the pages of Asian Cult Cinema, one of the least reputable publications to ever exist. Meyers closes his fluff piece with this statement, "...it clearly shows that when it comes to creating an understanding between China and America, we still have a very long way to go." * Yes, Ric, and your own words seemed to have slipped your mind with your "illiterate Chinese filmmakers" comment, the one about them not having invented the wheel yet regarding the use of dolly tracks and that intellectual doozy quoted at top about Thai cinema (from 2011) being inferior because of a supposed inferior culture. Pot, allow me to introduce you to kettle.
From Ric's racist remarks, to lambasting a fake article, we go to Ric putting down individuals with actual credibility. On his joke of a commentary track for LIFE OF A NINJA (1983), Meyers brazenly reminisces about insulting renowned Ninjitsu master, Stephen K. Hayes. The irredeemable Ric insults Hayes further by denouncing his martial arts abilities despite the man having written numerous books on the subject and his own induction into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame among other accomplishments. The only accomplishment Meyers has amassed is a steadily increasing stream of bullshit and made up nonsense. Again, coming from a regular contributor to the aforementioned fantasy filled rag mag, Asian Cult Cinema and the tabloid trash paper, Weekly World News, it makes perfect sense. Speaking of ninjas, I was informed that his handful of commentaries for Animeigo's SHINOBI NO MONO, SLEEPY EYES OF DEATH and SHOGUN ASSASSIN DVD's are travesties as well. I've not heard them so the Meyerisms contained therein won't make this list, unfortunately.
On more than one occasion, Meyers also perpetuates the myth that the revered director, Chang Cheh was gay. I honestly don't care about the revered and innovative director's sexual preference, but I do not believe his was a homosexual. Anyway, on the DEATH RING (1984) commentary, when he runs out of IMDB credits to babble on about, Meyers discusses Cheh's clumsy, double left footed indy movie, DANCING WARRIOR (1984). He claims that Cheh himself plays a gay manager in the film. First off, this movie is a failed attempt at creating a kung fu version of Sylvester Stallone's STAYING ALIVE (1982). Second, Chang Cheh is nowhere to be found in front of the camera and there is no gay manager character anywhere in the film. The brain continues boggling.
YOU'VE BEEN RIC-ROLLED! 200+ MENDACIOUS MEYERISMS!
98. "...And I keep on trying to tell them, as I tell the Thai filmmakers, which is, you need story! Fighting is not enough. You need story. You need character." *--Yes, please go "educate" the Thai filmmakers and make friends with some crocodiles while you're there.
99. Last time I checked, Casanova Wong was not in TOWER OF DEATH (1981), but he is in GAME OF DEATH (1978).
100. On his Son of Incredibly Strange Film Show segment hosted by Jonathan Ross, Meyers briefly discussed Bruceploitation actors and listed a bunch of them including two that never were such as Tadashi Yamashita, a Japanese actor/martial artist who was in a Karate movie retitled BRONSON LEE, CHAMPION (1974) for its American release and also a mysterious Bruce imitator bearing the name of Bluce Ree. Bluce Ree was seemingly never repeated again. If you're out there, Bluce, what movies were you in?
101. On his Top 100 Kung Fu Movies, he lists numerous swordplay films and modern crime dramas that have no kung fu in them whatsoever. But I guess if a lot of HARD WORK went into making them, than I guess they apply per Ric's daffy-nition.
102. On the same Top 100 Kung Fu Movie list, he even goes to extremes by listing SINGIN IN THE RAIN (1952), THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960), THE MATRIX (1999) and KUNG FU PANDA (2008), an animated movie; the latter of which, he considers the greatest kung f... what I meant was the greatest 'hard work' movie ever made. And I imagine designing all those animated characters was HARD WORK!
103. Yet again on his Top 100 list, he lists Chu Yuan's THE MAGIC BLADE (1976) as the best of his Wuxia/Swordplay features; yet directly below it, lists KILLER CLANS (1976) as his best; disregarding for a moment that neither film is a kung fu film in the traditional sense.
104. Ric stated FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS (1982) was a hit at the HK box office. While it obviously paved the way for a dozen or so similar movies from Taiwan, it barely made HK2 million. By comparison, Liu Chia Liang's LEGENDARY WEAPONS OF CHINA (1982) made roughly HK10 million and Jackie Chan's DRAGON LORD made HK18 million.
105. Ric has studied martial arts since 1978 and has practiced martial arts since 2002. States that he has a lack of faith in most of the teachers he has met. Well we have a lack of faith in YOU, Ric.
106. "...I got so much more to say..." *
107. Meyers honestly made the remark that he used his book, Great Martial Arts Movies, as a college text book at the University of Bridgeport! How ironic is it that he states he used it for a martial arts study degree program on MYTH AND REALITY!!
108. Brags that HK critic Paul Foronoff, who supposedly hated kung fu movies simply because they existed, wanted to see more of them after reading Ric's info packed book.
109. Blames Bruceploitation flicks as the reason most people hate kung fu movies.
110. States that out of the 360 pages in his new book, the alleged four typos drive him crazy. If that's true, then a padded room awaits after the avalanche of fuck ups everywhere else. Ric also says he's putting together a contest for those who buy his book--Find the four fuck ups and he'll give you a prize. I would be shocked if there were only four. Mind you, Ric doesn't consider a typo a MISTAKE.
111. The following is one critic writing about Meyers commentary track on ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA: "Meyers is so ridiculously informed about the history of Hong Kong cinema that he's able to point to minor characters and deliver quick, miniature histories of the actors who played them."--I think that critic meant ridiculously MISinformed especially when Mr. Meyers gets his Yuen's all mixed up on this track.
112. On multiple occasions, Meyers has claimed that in 1975, Gordon Lu-wee was having a movie tailor made especially for him. That film was Robert Clouse's THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR. But Yul Brynner got the part instead of Lu-wee who wasn't even a star in Hong Kong yet. Ric, you're such a kidder.
113. On a related note, Meyers goes further with his wacky power of bizarre ramblings by saying, THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR was a "futuristic battle film that predated the video games such as Mortal Kombat by many, many years." * Huh?? What that movie has to do with the classic fighting game franchise is anyone's guess. Think MAD MAX (1979) or THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981) and you have some idea what THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR (1975) is like.
114. "There weren't scripts for these movies. 99.9% of these movies were not scripted in the classical sense. They were devised." *--Meyers digs himself a grave by stating that the lack of scripts were because Chinese filmmakers couldn't read and write--"They weren't illiterate in terms of their filmmaking capabilities or their kung fu talents, but that doesn't mean they could necessarily read and write Chinese, let alone English." *
115. Meyers has consistently stated for many years that Siskel and Ebert frequently made kung fu movies their 'Stinkers of the Week' on their weekly AT THE MOVIES program. I have never seen an episode of AT THE MOVIES where anything but American product was featured on those segments. "Bullshit, or not?"
116. Meyers has spent his career proclaiming the inferiority of the American martial arts choreographer, but recently, as of February of 2012, Meyers has seemingly (read as temporarily) changed his tune; likely because he was invited to attend an 'Art of Fight Direction' panel in Asheville, NC (ActionFest article, ricmeyers.com; 2012).
117. On another commentary, Ric states that Shaw Brothers never allowed their movies to be released on VHS, despite US companies such as Vista, Southgate and Warner Brothers releasing several of them on American shores. Now, on the KUNG FU EMPEROR commentary, Meyers contradicts his earlier statement to now include the Southgate releases, "When Shaw Brothers were still allowing them to be seen." * He continues only to fumble again, though--"....The Shaw Brothers have not allowed their movies to be legally seen...uh, since 1985, as of this recording. I hope that's going to change, but I doubt it." *--The Southgate and Vista releases were AFTER 1985.
118. In a related story, Ric Meyers says that Southgate Entertainment only put out a couple Shaw Brothers movies on VHS tape. Bobby Samuels sort of goes along with him. One gets the feeling he knows better, but likely doesn't want to stir the ire of the HARDest WORKing Anglo in the HARD WORK movie industry. They released seven or eight of them in widescreen including--KING BOXER (1972), TWO CHAMPIONS OF SHAOLIN (1980), CHINATOWN KID (1977), THE BELLS OF DEATH (1968) and CHALLENGE OF THE MASTERS (1976).
119. David Chiang does not get drawn and quartered in BLOOD BROTHERS (1973), Ric. That would be HEROIC ONES (1970), and the scene is not shot on a sound stage, either. It was shot on location. Again, this is more common kung fu knowledge you'd think an "authority" like yourself would friggin' know after thirty fuckin' years.
120. Chang Cheh's last movie was not ACROSS THE RIVER (1988), Ric. It was NINJA IN ANCIENT CHINA (1993).
121. Chang Cheh also doesn't play a gay manager in DANCING WARRIOR (1985) you ass.
THE SAGA CONTINUES IN PART 5!