The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences kicks off its new exhibition, “KICK ASS! Kung Fu Posters from the Stephen Chin Collection,” with a 40th anniversary screening of “Enter the Dragon” on Wednesday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The evening will feature an introduction by Stephen Chin and an onstage discussion with the film’s cast and crew, including actor John Saxon, screenwriter Michael Allin, cinematographer Gil Hubbs and producers Fred Weintraub and Paul Heller. There will be special evening gallery hours immediately following the screening.
In 2011, producer and screenwriter Chin donated his collection of more than 800 kung fu film posters and related materials to the Academy. A six-sheet poster from “Enter the Dragon” is featured prominently in the exhibition, along with such collectibles as early English-language kung fu manuals, skateboards, trading cards and lunchboxes. A viewing station will feature action-packed trailers for many of the films represented in the exhibition.
“The kung fu genre exploded into world cinema in the 1970s, changing forever the way action films are shot and edited. And forever changing American popular culture,” said Chin. “I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to save so much of that history. And I am thrilled that the Academy is now able to share it with a larger audience.”
“KICK ASS! Kung Fu Posters from the Stephen Chin Collection” highlights the unprecedented success of Bruce Lee and a multitude of other kung fu stars that followed in his footsteps, including Jackie Chan, Sonny Chiba, Sammo Hung, Jet Li and Chuck Norris. Women such as Angela Mao in “Deadly China Doll” (1973) and Sue Shiomi in “Sister Street Fighter” (1974) were also a vital part of kung fu’s early popularity. The exhibition also looks at the myriad ways in which kung fu has been blended with other genres in the West, such as blaxploitation, horror, fantasy, comedy and science fiction.
In the 1970s, kung fu captured the imagination of moviegoers worldwide by updating ancient Asian martial arts traditions for a contemporary audience thrilled by extreme action, vengeance-fueled stories and eye-popping feats of physical skill. Filmed almost entirely on location in Hong Kong, “Enter the Dragon” (1973) was the first kung fu film produced by a major Hollywood studio, Warner Bros., and brought the genre into the American mainstream.
Bruce Lee, who choreographed and staged the fights himself, plays a martial arts expert who enters a grueling martial arts tournament to take revenge on the gang that killed his sister. Lee died a month before “Enter the Dragon” was released in the U.S., but the film’s popularity cemented his status as a cinematic legend.
The original 35mm Technicolor dye-transfer print is courtesy of Academy Film Archive and Warner Bros.
Tickets for “Enter the Dragon” on April 17 are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID, and may be purchased starting April 1 online at www.oscars.org, in person at the Academy box office or by mail. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Ticketed seating is unreserved.
“KICK ASS! Kung Fu Posters from the Stephen Chin Collection” will be open to the public from April 18 through August 25 in the Academy’s Grand Lobby Gallery in Beverly Hills. Regular viewing hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends, noon to 6 p.m. Admission to the gallery is free. For more information, call (310) 247-3600 or visit www.oscars.org.