If one is a fan of kung-fu cinema, one will know the name of Ric Meyers, the writer of many books, columns and articles on the genre. Seeing Ric Meyers’ name on the cover of Films of Fury made me extremely happy because I felt as though I was going to receive a master class in a genre that has flourished since the 1970’s. What I got from Films of Fury was a documentary that catered to the lowest common denominator and lacked insight into the genre itself or the sub culture that its created around the world. The films isn’t by Ric Meyers at all, it was made by Andrew Corvey and Andrew Robinson, but it says so on the cover. The biggest red flag that went off in my head was when I thought there was going to be talking heads of different martial artists or Ric himself, all I got was a cartoon character telling me about kung fu films.
While it seemed like a novel attempt to give this documentary some pizazz, by having these animated characters explain the origins of the kung fu film and elaborating on them, it comes off as very much an elementary school lesson on the genre. The information spouted here is very good and accurate, with the mentioning of the genres origins from Peking Opera and going as far back as the silent era, but if one is obsessed with this genre, one will already know this. Another thing that seemed very awkward was the mentioning of John Woo and his action films of the late 80’s in the later half of the film. Sure, John Woo made Last Hurrah for Chivalry for the Shaw Brothers in 1979, but films like A Better Tomorrow and The Killer are more in the vein of 80’s Hollywood action films than kung-fu films.
People like Cheh Chang, director of the Five Deadly Venoms and Five Element Ninjas is mentioned, as well as some other great directors under the Shaw Brothers, but the Shaw’s get no real mention at all to their contribution to kung-fu cinema. This is one of my main problems with the doc in the sense that it feels extremely uneven. It portrays some really good information and references right along side some other stuff that don’t really relate or bears no major significance to kung-fu.
While a young boy or girl that has just finished watching Kung Fu Panda or a young adult that’s seen Fearless or Ip Man would like to know a little bit more about the genre, this might be for them. As far as what the subtitle for this film is, “The Kung Fu Movie Movie”, it most certainly is not and very much a boring and demeaning foray into a genre that deserves much more, especially when Ric Meyers name is plastered all over it.