August can be a miserable time to go to the movies, and it’s almost always a miserable time to be in New York City. But, for at least one glorious weekend this month, neither of those time-honored facts will be true. Beginning on Friday, August 18, Subway Cinema’s Old School Kung Fu Fest returns to The Metrograph theater in lower Manhattan for another incredible weekend of flying courtesans, iconic sword fights, and even a little pistol action for people who like their body-chops and dropkicks with some bullets on the side.
Capping off a female-driven summer movie season that kicked off with “Wonder Woman” back in early June, the seventh edition of this deeply beloved fest is devoted to the “Wonder Women of the Martial Arts,” and it boasts some of the fiercest ladies to ever leap over an unsuspecting henchman. The seven films in this year’s program — five of which will be screening on 35mm — stretch from 1966 to 1985, from King Hu to Corey Yuen, and they feature an incredible array of ass-kickers that includes genre legends like Cheng Pei Pei and Kara Hui Ying Hung.
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In keeping with previous editions of the fest, this year’s OSKFF lineup does a great job of balancing monumental classics (like “A Touch of Zen”) with delightful oddities (like “My Young Auntie”) that should thrill hardcore fans and curious newbies in equal measure. Directed by Lau Kar-leung, “My Young Auntie” tells the story of an old man who takes a young bride in order to keep a legal hold on his land, only to discover that his new spouse is a killing machine in white lace — needless to say, everyone should probably see this movie.
Other highlights include Huang Feng’s “Hapkido,” which will be introduced by star Angela Mao. A tribute to the Korean fighting style that gives the film its name, “Hapkido” punches and blocks unlike almost any other kung fu movie out there, and lists an early performance from the great Sammo Hung among its many irresistible qualities. For those looking for something that leans a bit harder into the festival’s overarching theme, don’t miss “Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan,” a seductive revenge drama with a delicious feminist twist.
However, the most exciting title in this year’s lineup might be King Hu’s 1966 classic, “Come Drink with Me,” which is screening with subtitles and on glorious celluloid. One of the most enduringly influential kung fu movies ever made, this story of a teenage girl trying to rescue her brother from bandits starts with an ambush for the ages and only gets better from there — it’s 95 minutes of dumb men underestimating Cheng Pei Pei at their own peril. Between the restaurant brawls and the rooftop acrobats, anyone who’s seen “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” will be able to recognize the formative impact that Hu’s masterpiece has had on its genre.
Check out the trailer for the seventh Old School Kung Fu Fest below:
The Old School Kung Fu Fest runs from August 18 — August 20 at The Metrograph theater. Visit The Metrograph for tickets.