The amount of hidden gems The Seventh Art finds on the internet is quite staggering and this particular video is no exception. The 1975 BBC documentary “Fists of Fire” is a must if you’re a big fan of kung fu movies, as it goes behind the scenes of Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers Studios, which were famous for popularizing the kung fu and wuxia genres, as well as making a star out of David Chiang, who’s predominantly featured in the video.
The founder of Shaw Brothers Studio, Run Run Shaw, died earlier this year at the impressive age of 106. The doc briefly goes into Shaw’s early days, but mostly focuses on his life as a studio mogul. Altogether, Shaw Brothers Studios produced over 1,000 films, the most notable of which include “Come Drink With Me,” “The One-Armed Swordsman,” and “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” (does that last one ring a bell, Wu-Tang fans?).
What’s most amusing about “Fists of Fire” is how it shows the ways in which Shaw Brothers Studios record sound. None of their films, at least at the time of the documentary, were recorded on location. Instead, Shaw Brothers inserted all of their sound in post-production. So, those punches and kicks you hear in “Five Fingers of Death”? Recorded by some dude in a studio. Pretty neat stuff.
A large portion of the documentary, though, is focused on the aforementioned David Chiang. He talks about how he got his start in the industry, but more interesting are the rigorous workouts he does in order to prepare for his fight scenes. Chiang had to train two hours a day in order to stay in shape. David Chiang would go on to enjoy a long career in the film industry and would get his name included on the Avenue of Stars, the Hong Kong equivalent of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
You can learn more about Chiang, Run Run Shaw, and Shaw Brothers Studios by checking out the documentary below.