Last week, the Light House Cinema in Smithfield became the Fight House - screening a series of films chosen by Welsh director Gareth Evans. These were some of the key movies which had inspired Evans’s new film, The Raid and his previous effort, Merantau, both of which were also screened as part of the series. I was lucky enough to win passes to all of the screenings, thanks to Le Cool Dublin and had a blast seeing the films.
It was really great to get to see The Raid, which has a huge amount of buzz about it, a week ahead of its official release (it’s out now – go see it!). But the real joy of Fight House was having the opportunity to see some classic and/or unusual films up on the big screen.
For example, most people in the West are only ever going to see Jackie Chan in the cinema if he’s co-starring with Chris Tucker or Owen Wilson in an American-made flick. While I’ll hold my hand up and say I had a strangely massive amount of love for Shanghai Noon, it just doesn’t compare to Chan’s manic masterpieces from his homeland – where studio’s insurance folk (if they even have any) were a lot less likely to interfere with the planned stunts. And sure, watching something like Police Story on DVD (or on VHS, as Evans reminisced about in his video introduction – he did one for each film in Fight House) at home is fun, it doesn’t beat seeing it a cinema, with an audience to join in with reactions.
There were two highlights in particular for me. First was John Woo’s Hard-Boiled. This, I had actually seen before – on VHS, back in the day. I’d loved it a lot then, but even more this time. The gun fights and body count in the film are absolutely preposterous, but executed in the best, most spectacular way.
The second highlight was Shogun Assassin. It certainly wasn’t the best film in the series by any sensible standard, but as a cinema experience it may have taken the honours. Rather than cater to purist snobs who’d prefer to see the original Kozure Ōkami films, Evans went with the 1980 English-dubbed Frankenstein’s monster (it’s actually assembled from parts of two separate installments, with a new electronic score). And it was absolutely incredible.
Here’s the trailer, for a taste:
Overall, it was a great week of action-film action. Hopefully the Light House will be having similar seasons in the future. They’re a nice twist on the usual series that get shown – i.e. instead of just screening a bunch of films from one director’s body of work, having the maker of a new release curate a mini-festival, showing the inspirations behind their work.
…Not that the other kind of series is a bad thing. Let’s keep those up too! Like, say, with screenings of Alien and Blade Runner to accompany Prometheus?