Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Tao of Ric: True Lies & A Fistful of Meyerisms Part 5



" can be assured that there'll be remakes before you see the remastered originals, and new movies before you ever see the classics." *--The above Meyers dialog is from 2002, mere months before the films were re-released. Incidentally, prior to Meyers' remark, the Shaw's had already re-emerged in 1996 with HERO, a remake of Chang Cheh's BOXER FROM SHANTUNG (1972). The film was not a success, but both DURING and AFTER the Shaw remasters were coming out, plans for remakes of old Shaw classics were in the works. Meyers fancies himself a kung fu Nostradamus when in actuality he's more of a cut rate Cleo.

Speaking of Chang Cheh, Meyers, apparently still stinging from Sir Run Run Shaw not wishing to see him or accept his book that "honors his films", made remarks that Shaw closing their studios put Cheh and others such as Liu Chia Liang and Sun Chung out of work. Meyers should be fully aware that, after Cheh's contract with Shaw expired in 1982-83, that he went to Taiwan to make movies there. He should know considering he did commentary on one of Cheh's post Shaw Taiwan movies--error filled and fabricated as it may be--for Tai Seng's Martial Arts Theater line. That film was the aforementioned DEATH RING, discussed at the end of the previous chapter. Liu Chia Liang didn't skip a beat and Sun Chung worked till the early 90s before seemingly calling it a day. A shame Meyers wasn't put out of work, though.

I was being sent all over the world to troubleshoot this kind of thing because nobody else in America knew anything about these films, really, outside of something, like say ENTER THE DRAGON." *--This quote kicked off Part 2 of this article. It's reprinted here as it's apropos for this topic.

Ric the railroader continued running down Run Run by frequently stating Shaw's never would have sold his movies in America had he known they were going to be successful abroad. HUH??? Of course he wanted them to be successful. It's incredibly stupid to believe that he didn't. Shaw's movies did big business everywhere, and not just America. The films were massively successful in theaters with big companies like Warner Brothers and MGM distributing them in the United States. After KING BOXER--re-christened FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH for its US release--became an international sensation in 1972 (and the first kung fu spectacular before Bruce Lee), Shaw quickly became the Asian center of attention from foreign reporters curious about their unique brand of cinema. See how happy those folks are in the photo to the right from the UK standing happily in line to get a gander at KING BOXER? TIME Magazine, which isn't a small potatoes publication, did a spread on Shaw Studio in 1973 as well as a televised special on the ABC Network entitled WORLD OF RUN RUN SHAW which was shot in July of 1973. In the early months of 1976, TIME Magazine once again visited the studio when NY reporter, Dick Halstead went on assignment there for a few days for an article on the Chinese film industry. Obviously the Shaw's brand of cinema had garnered some sort of attention. And take into account this was all B.M. (Before Meyers). Click the images to read all about it.

I was being sent all over the world to troubleshoot this kind of thing because nobody else in America knew anything about these films, really, outside of something, like say ENTER THE DRAGON." *--and again for posterity.

These movies (predominantly the kung fu movies) were sold in seemingly every territory on the planet. This wide exposure also led to a slew of co-productions with foreign companies from Europe and America. This gave actors like Lo Lieh and David Chiang the opportunity to shine internationally with films like THE STRANGER & THE GUNFIGHTER (1974) and LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES (1974) respectively. Kung Fu movies enjoyed a popularity during the 70s they will never, ever enjoy again. If you recall from an earlier chapter, we talked about Meyers claiming Shaw didn't want his stars to be famous. Lo Lieh was given the co-lead role in THE STRANGER & THE GUNFIGHTER, this US-Italian-HK co-production, because FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH aka KING BOXER (1972) had made millions around the world. What's even more startling about the success of FIVE FINGERS is that Warner's didn't release the film nationwide and it still made millions on what amounted to a $200,000 budget. However, neither Lo Lieh, nor David Chiang made the transition to wider recognition because the western genre was mostly dried up and the US cut of GOLDEN VAMPIRES was a travesty that appeared edited with scissors and put back together by a blind man. Yes, that editor was truly not proficient in 'Hard Work'. Also, neither actor had the aura of Bruce Lee.

Furthermore, when blockbusters like JAWS (1975) and STAR WARS (1977) broke new ground, altering audience perception of what a movie "should look like", kung fu movies eventually found a comfortable, suitable new home on television where they found a new audience who may not have experienced them in the theaters and Drive-ins across America. Shaw Brothers made a good amount of money selling them abroad for theatrical exhibition, so why should he not expect to make a mint selling them to the small screen, too? Judging by these images presented here and elsewhere in this series, it's glaringly obvious that the Shaw's were well aware of their films popularity around the world and particularly in America. If Meyers' accusation had any weight to it at all, why the hell wouldn't his staff revolt (I can't even believe I'm typing this it's so stupid) during the height of the films' popularity during the 1970s?

Meyers likes to think no one knew what these films were B.M. That's Before Meyers, which could also be an acronym for Bowel Movement; which is an apt description for suffering through Ric's bullshit. It's funny that he claimed that "...nobody else in America knew anything about these films, really, outside of something, like say ENTER THE DRAGON" * when it's glaringly obvious that many other people did. Circa 1977B.M., British film critic, Tony Rayns wrote an article in the September, 1977 issue of Cinemart (page 38) about the Asian film industry. It's a fascinating article (you can read it below) that perfectly sums up the shooting of movies in Asia and educates on a far more cerebral and immersive way than any amount of pablum puke Meyers has ever mustered.

Rayns is well known for possessing a true amount of expertise on the genre without having to make shit up to garner attention. He has also worked as a translator and contributed to a number of DVD commentaries, none of which I have heard, but no doubt are stimulating on a far greater level compared with Ric's kindergarten kitsch.


NUMBERS 122-152!

122. "He moved to HK in his early teens and trained as an actor at Shaw Brothers where his fellow students included, uh, Yueh Hua and Li King...whatever that means. I'm not sure if they're very famous." *--Ric reading off his "Meyers Notes" about Lo Lieh on the FATAL NEEDLES, FATAL FISTS (1978) commentary. Not only does Myers not know who Yueh Hua is in 2002, but doesn't realize he's also referring to HK's baby queen, Li Ching as Li King. Incredible.

123. Meyers mercilessly plugs his book and his accomplishments throughout his judiciously erroneous and IMDB fueled commentary tracks. He also does this in his ACC column often times at the beginning and ending of each column with an annoying degree of self promotion.

124. In relating info on Joseph Kuo, Ric refers to a movie titled MIGHTY KUNG FU...he might-y be wrong. Must be THE MIGHTY ONE from '71.

125. "Tragically, the more the English speaking world loves the films, the more the Asians seem to resent them." *--As long as Meyers has had connections to this cinema, he should have learned by now that the Chinese are notoriously contemptuous when it comes to their old movies. Surely he must know this, but then it's much easier for him to parlay himself as some sort of Savior of Kung Fu instead...correction, I meant HARD WORK.

126. Claims Sun Chien is Korean and that being the reason he was underutilized at Shaw's. To be fair, Meyers' co-commentator, Bobby Samuels gives Ric this information. In reality, Sun Chien is Taiwanese.

127. Meyers says Ti Lung starred in only two of Chang Cheh's films during his Taiwan tenure--FIVE SHAOLIN MASTERS and the imaginary 8 MAN ARMY. Actually, Ti Lung was also in Chang's Company's THE DRUG ADDICT (1974; David Chiang directed), YOUNG LOVERS ON FLYING WHEELS (1974; Ti Lung directed), THE YOUNG REBEL (1975; Ti Lung directed), SEVEN MAN ARMY (1976) and SHAOLIN TEMPLE (1976).

128. "He's filming it too close." *--Ric's reference on the commentary for Kuo Chui's directorial debut, NINJA IN THE DEADLY TRAP (1984); a film only available in a FULLSCREEN version. This is followed up by Bobby Samuels uttering, "Yeah, his framing is off."

129. Ric states that when Shaw Brothers closed their studio in 1985, this put Chang Cheh out of work. Cheh was gone from the studio in 1982-3 when his contract with them expired. He quickly set up camp in Taiwan for the next ten years under his Chang Ho banner.

130. Meyers is apparently bored and fantasizing about his brief flirtation in the porn industry as he repeatedly makes dick and sperm jokes and other sexual innuendos throughout the commentary for THE HEROES (1980).

131. Ric credits Pao Hsueh Li with a number of movies he didn't direct by himself; films co-directed with Chang Cheh. Pao, along with Wu Ma, were Cheh's "deputies", his AD's whom aided him on his bigger movies to gain their own experience so as to become successful directors in their own right. He goes on to say on the KUNG FU EMPEROR commentary that Pao was "always in the shadow of Chang Cheh." I guess so since he was the man's assistant director! The job of an AD on a Chinese movie is no different than an AD on an American one. None of Pao's solo features that I've seen resemble Cheh's movies at all, however.

132. "His stuff is really trying to be Chang Cheh, and as you can see here, without I Kuang, the writer, or...or the, uh, [Shaw] studio around him, he makes an entertaining film, but certainly not a film, uh, satisfying as, uh, the Shaw Brothers movies." *--Ric strikes again! Meyers states that because director Pao was without I Kuang on KUNG FU EMPEROR, the movie isn't as good as his Shaw work. If he had paid attention to the damn credits again, he'd of noticed I KUANG is credited as the scriptwriter on KUNG FU EMPEROR!

133. For the third or fourth time, and again on the KUNG FU EMPEROR (1981) commentary, Meyers tells the story of a mysterious Taiwanese actor he met in Monterrey Park, California working as a waiter in a restaurant who allegedly made 700 movies in a 20 year period and made more money as a waiter. Yet, Meyers never bothers to reveal this persons name.

134. Meyers states on the FATAL NEEDLES, FATAL FISTS commentary that Lo Lieh married a Tang Chi Li in 1973. Actually, Lo Lieh married Tang Chia Li in 1976, his second of four wives.

135. Ric repeats an enormously erroneous statement near the beginning of the commentary track for THE HEROES (1980) that the Shaw Brothers refused to officially release any of their movies on videotape. Apparently he had forgotten about the five titles released through Vista Video and the seven or so from Southgate Entertainment. And that's not counting the numerous English language tapes released in European territories.

136. On the same commentary track, Meyers makes another boneheaded claim that all the Ocean Shores tapes were English dubbed only, save for one title. There were MANY, if not all OS tapes released in dubbed and original language without English subs on videotape.

137. In reference to his three Gordon Liu comedies of error filled commentaries (WARRIOR FROM SHAOLIN, FISTS & GUTS, SHAOLIN DRUNK MONK), Ric claims his extensive catalog of WTF? was due to exhaustion.

138. Ric has also claimed that Lo Mang avoids women to keep himself in top physical shape strictly devoting himself to his fighting art. Incidentally, the Toad must have changed into a horny toad for his sex scenes in movies such as EBOLA SYNDROME (1996) and SEX AND ZEN 3 (1998).

139. "Let me go through my voluminous notes." *--These consist of an IMDB list which he energetically reads off for each and every actor; those of which he recognizes and those he don't, but gives them a name, anyways.

140. On the unused liner notes for SHAOLIN HANDLOCK (1978), Ric credits Kuei Chi Hung's doomladen classic KILLER CONSTABLE (1980) as a Sun Chung film.

141. "In addition to Lee, the box office was also being shaken by upstart independent producer/director/writer Ng See-yuen, whose The Bloody Fists (1972) appeared in May to break the big-studios’ stranglehold on the audience." *--A quote from Meyers unused liner notes for THE 14 AMAZONS making yet another ridiculous claim that a film that made a little over a hundred thousand HK dollars was sending monetary shockwaves to the Shaw offices.

142. Yet again, on his unused (are you recognizing a trend here?) liner notes for THE 14 AMAZONS (1972), Ric infers that the Shaw Brothers movies were chauvinistic. While that's debatable, he either has forgotten about, or hasn't bothered seeing the following movies despite doing the synopsis' for around 400 of IVL's DVDs like COME DRINK WITH ME (1966), THE SILVER FOX (1967), SWORDSWOMEN THREE (1970), SHADOW GIRL (1971), VENGEANCE OF A SNOW GIRL (1971), THE SHADOW WHIP (1971) and LADY WITH A SWORD (1971; directed by a woman!) to name a few. Chang Cheh a chauvinist? Yes. The Shaw Brothers? No.

143. Meyers states that GANGMASTER (1982) is one of the best Shaw Brothers movies to star Ti Lung...and Ti Lung is nowhere to be found in that film.

144. On the liner notes for OPIUM & THE KUNG FU MASTER (1984), Ric annoyingly reverses Cheng Chang Ho's name, putting his family name last as Chang Ho-cheng despite stating in his book he doesn't do this sort of thing.

145. On the same liner notes, Meyers briefly covers the kung fu boom of the 70s (despite his frequent crusade to convince folks that nobody knew what these movies were till he educated them) by making this statement, "...Then director Chang Cheh's THE WATER MARGIN and ALL MEN ARE BROTHERS were hacked together as SEVEN BLOWS OF THE DRAGON." * There was no hacking together of these two films. THE WATER MARGIN was quite simply hacked down from 2 hours to 79 minutes, accentuating the action and downplaying the character interplay. It, alone, was released to theaters as 7 BLOWS OF THE DRAGON. Its sequel was released here as 7 SOLDIERS OF KUNG FU.

146. Also on these liner notes, Meyers contradicts the first line of the above statement by claiming America didn't accept these movies till they were sold to television. He then goes into his oft repeated spiel as to why Shaw's closed down chalking it up to rumor regardless of the fact that he is the one starting and spreading these things. If that weren't enough, last year he stated that after Bruce Lee died, the only such movies we got were Bruce clone pictures. If you're going to lie, Ric, stick to just one. You're confusing the audience again.

147. Again on OPIUM's liner notes, Ric refers to Ng See Yuen's obscure "not even a blip on the radar" movie, THE BLOODY FISTS (1972)--the box office bomb Chen Kuan Tai walked off the set of to star in BOXER FROM SHANTUNG (1972)--as a milestone.

148. On the KUNG FU EMPEROR (1981) commentary, Ric mistakenly assumes the Emperor is played by Lo Wei. No Way! It's actually Fang Mian, an actor seen in about 30 or so Shaw movies usually as the wisened old master.

149. "Please, guys, all you need to do is understand kung fu..." *--LOL. First it's Hard Work to him, now we're back to kung fu. We are being educated by an idiot ( interview; Sept. 2011).

150. On the MY KUNG FU 12 KICKS (1979) commentary, Meyers makes the comment on how American action films shoot their action too close, yet on the FISTS & GUTS commentary, Meyers remarks that fullscreen suits the action better.

151. On the same KUNG FU 12 KICKS commentary, Meyers goes over his IMDB list for everybody including all the Bruce Lee imitators as well as reading off whole passages from other writers material; mentions Bruce Liang's brother, but never once discusses Bruce Liang's father, Liang Shao Sung, a prolific actor and choreographer.

152. "I've gotten very nice reactions and very nice reviews...even the, uh, veterans, they say 'Oh, I learned something I didn't know before.'" *--(Laughs uncontrollably) Yes, Ric, we've all learned a great deal from you. (online interview regarding his new book)


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