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falkor

Korean Old School Kung Fu Movies

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Kung Fu Came First in Korea!

 

I was checking a documentary and it seems there were bashers being produced in Korea from about 1968, which is one year before HK. And I just checked out Showdown At The Golden Gate (1971), and this actually features hand-to-hand Kung! I thought it was purely a Swordplay... what do I know! And I'm not getting confused with gangster/street fighting like in that Shaw Brothers film called Duel Of The Iron Fist, which I refuse to class as Kung Fu. Showdown At The Golden Gate has proper traditional kung fights taking place in the forest...

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OMG, Showdown At the Golden Gate doesn't even have swordplay... it's entirely a basher with even more authentic kung than most HK movies of the period. There's even female action with the heroine taking on multiple opponents! I really don't believe what I'm seeing....

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After having yet to see a cantonese or mandarin dub of one of the many Korean-made kung fu flicks that were put together by Godfrey Ho and I think also Joseph Lai, I'm left wondering what was the target market for these films? When they were released, it was in the early 80s when period kung fu films were pretty much out of style. Were these really intended for the HK or Taiwan market, or was the main goal to show these in western (grindhouse?) cinemas? It might explain why the movies have actor credits like Mike Wong or Elton Chong, getting rid of the korean name, but also including anglo names. Would they have made enough money in the HK and Taiwan market to have warranted so many of them being made (there must be well over 20 of these kinds of films).

This also makes me wonder if a number of these films weren't perhaps made for Korean audiences as well, kind of like a Chinese-ish movie making fad similar to the Ninja film fad that occurred in the USA during the early 80s. I mean, if Godfrey Ho was trying to churn out budget flicks, why would he send out production crews to Korea. Even if he just sent an HK director and choreographer, it would still cost money to hire people in Korea. That's why I'm thinking he may have taken already made Korean kung fu films and had them dubbed into English for the Western market. And hopefully, that means Korean language versions of these films also exist.

Am I completely wrong on this? I'm not saying every film was solely Korean, but I think it's all a mixed batch, with a number of them being purely Korean-only production and money, but maybe using the skills they learned from visiting HK and Taiwan guys who made movies there in the mid to late 70s (eg. Secret Rivals, Magnificent Bodyguards)

KFS

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Guest Markgway

The films were originally made for a Korean audience.

IFD/Filmark bought up the international rights with the idea to rebrand them and sell them to foreign video markets.

Disguising them as "Hong Kong" films made them an easier sell.

Hence the phoney credits and addition of "Ninjas" which were then all the rage in the west.

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Thanks for confirming my 'suspicions'. I think it was mentioned her a few times in the past that Godfrey Ho and/or Joseph Lai and other chinese names attached to the production of these films actually went there and created these films. But as you've confirmed, it looks like the Koreans were doing it all themselves, making their own HK/Taiwan style kung fu flicks for their own audiences.

I wonder if the original negatives with the original languages still exist. And did these films get modified significantly by Ho or Lai from their original edits? For now, the only way to watch them in their original widescreen is to get the French language DVDs, which probably were sent to France after Ho and Lai got to them, as opposed to being sourced directly from the Korean studios.

KFS

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hey,

the Korean martial arts films that I've seen anyway were only supplied with a new title, new credits and a dubb. Nothing inserted. The Snake Strikes Back and Dragon Against Vampire being examples.

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I wonder if the original negatives with the original languages still exist.

The Korean Film Archive has them for most, if not all, films. Toby Russell once attempted to buy the rights for Black Dragon River and Secret Envoy, but the prices were too steep.

And did these films get modified significantly by Ho or Lai from their original edits?

They mainly cut the running down a bit and added ninja footage or footage from movies shot in Taiwan, Thailand, Philly (sometimes incompleted films). Sometimes they left them intact, ie. Magnificent Wonderman.

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Guest Markgway

It's sad that 99% of fans outside Korea only know them from their "modified" versions. I'd imagine most of the originals made it to Korean VHS back in the day.

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Are the action film tastes in South Korea similar to that I've heard are in Hong Kong in that they are only interested in new films? There hasn't been a single DVD company there that has dug out those old films from the vaults? Or if a TV channel has played them from old prints, perhaps starting a group of fans of that genre of action film within Korea? It's too bad. I wonder if the films would take on a totally different feel in their original form, similar to watching Sonny Chiba's karate films in their original language vs the english dubs?

KFS

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I like Korean martial arts movies. But I feel anger which most of the Korean Martial arts movies weren't released overseas as original movies. Even if these aren't edited, I don't like the movies dubbed by English.

I wonder that the funny "ninja action" is inserted and different movie scenes are used without permission. Original movies weren't unattractive so these were remodeled?.... But I can't understand why did such phenomenon occur.

Were there such movies in the Japanese Karate movies released overseas? Why Korean movies? (Hong Kong and Taiwanese movies are also included.) Korean movies were minced and it's very regrettable that those were released as "HK movie" or "fake collaboration movie".

Please understand that the original martial arts movies existed in Korea.

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Here's a few clips from youtube. The first one is Korean language, but the audio looks to be out of sync.

Incredible Shaolin Thunderkick (I've only seen full screen versions of this)

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Masters of Tiger Crane(The French Bach DVD is widescreen, as was a Beverly Wilshire DVD release)

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Five Pattern Dragon Claw (I think this was one of the French Bach Film widescreen releases)

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Invincible Obsessed Fighter (this was released in widescreen by the French Bach films)

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Double Dragon: The Last Duel (this was released as widescreen by Beverly Wilshire, which is probably source for the youtube clip)

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Deadly Shaolin Longfist (I decided to look for the original Saturn VHS version because I didn't like the Saturn DVD's quality, hoping it would look better, but sadly, it still looked poor)

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Shaolin Blood Mission (which has the weirdest moments I've seen in a regular, non-horror, non-magic martial arts movie when they removed the book that was sewn into the abbot's back)

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Most of the films turned up through Saturn Video on DVD or as Passion Productions, but sadly, I found them heavily pixelated. A number of different titles also appeared through Ground Zero that Saturn hadn't put out, like Snake Strikes Back.

KFS

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im thinking they were also easier to make given the language barrier. most of those films starred dragon lee and maybe the level of communication made it faster to pump out these films? just a thought

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I forgot about Revenge Of Drunken Master. I have that one on Hollywood DVD. I think the lead guy in that is cantonese. At least, he doesn't seem to be mouthing Korean like everyone else.

I forgot that I had found a widescreen version of Deadly Shaolin Longfist. It was part of a series of kung fu films released by another French DVD company.

Here are some more clips of Korean flicks

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KFS

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I recently bought some more Bach Films DVDs, which are french language only films that are presented in their original 2.35:1 aspect ratio (in most cases). The prints are sadly over processed by whatever restoration they do, so the colours are either too saturated, or the contrast is too low so people wearing dark clothing in a darkly lit scene are almost invisible.

I thought I had collected all of the Korean films they had put out. But there was one I had missed. The film entitled 'Blood of The Dragon Peril' is available in widescreen from Bach Films under the title "Challenge Du Dragon". I thought it was the early 70s basher 'Challenge of the Dragon', so I was surprised when I played it and saw it had the doll mask fighter in the Korean flick. The UK DVD release is english dub, but it's a fullscreen print.

Just an fyi for anyone trying to collect all the Korean kung fu flicks.

KFS

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Hello guys,

When I started watching MA movies in the early days, I was not aware that many of HK movies were shot in Korea. Now, as we grow, we learn more. So, could someone here explain to us why not in Taiwan, but in Korea?

Many thanks

Topgun

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cheap Actors nice locations, also Korean investment in to the film, the Korean make korean version of the same film sometimes with different scenes and actors edited in. both HK, taiwan and Korean investors save money like this

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Yeah, I remember Don Wang Tao talking about that on the AC for Secret Rivals! They shot the HK version, and then some actors stayed behind a shot new scenes with more korean actors for the korean market. What a circus! Wouldn't wanna be the one in charge of continuity back on those sets. Although that never seemed to bother them that much!

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I noticed that guys on this forum don't actually enjoy talking about Korean M/A films :sad:, anyway i would like to see some fellow fans in this thread and to exchange several words with them. I pretty much like all Korean old school Kung Fu movies, i like Kim Tai Jung, Han Young Cheol, Dragon Lee, Hwang Jang Lee and rest of the gang. Also i have large collection of cool images and stills that i'm going to post in near future also large number of cool info so if anyone is interesting in talking about those films, be my guest :smile:

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I know what you mean. I love old school korean martial arts film, my favorite actors are Benny Tsui, Elton Chong, Mike Wong, Han Yong Cheol, and of course Dragon Lee and Hwang Jang Li. I am very interested in talking about the old school korean martial arts movies, I just wish I had more information about the actors

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