Why I miss the '80s

Recently I've been nostalgic about the martial arts movies of old. I remember when I was still at primary and high schools and there will be days when we'd come to school to find giant posters of martial artists like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Silver Fox, Chuck Norris and others pasted next to the assembly spot.

We'd be informed that a bioscope will be shown at the school on Wednesday afteroon. The cinema-guy, who now runs a cobbler business and deserved a Ster Kinekor or Nu-Metro franchise had a giant projector and scores of 35mm film reel. We'd pay 50cent to watch over 90 minutes and he'd always give us a ticket that looked like the ones attached to 50 and 80kilogram bags of mealie meal. When we walked into the packed and humid unventilated hall we would hand over the ticket and get a stamp on our forearm so that in the event that we want to go pee or poo we don't stress him with details of how we were inside the hall before.

The they screened hardcore kung-fu flicks like Battle Creek Brawl, Snake Under the Eagle's Shadow, Seven Steps of Kung-fu, Enter the Dragon and many others starring the guys I mentioned and a lot of others with funny looking moustache and bald heads like Tibetan monks. They would wear dark garbs embroided with Oriental mystical symbols like dragons, the rising sun, stars, huge snakes and other beasts of the wild.

The storyline always revolved around the same incident. A young boy's father is killed by a renegade fighter using a different fighting style associated with a certain animal while he hides under a table and watches everything - even when the father puts up a fight and ends up being killed using, let's say cat-style. Then when he grows up and when he's reached puberty he goes to the old man in the Chinese mountains or Tibet who has sworn that he's not going to train anyone kung-fu after he killed a man in a street brawl. He lives alone and is only surrounded by shrubs.

The orphaned boy goes to him after he lost a fight against a fighter trained by the renegade who killed his father fifteen years ago. The old man (let's call him Silver Fox) first refuses to train the boy and makes him do chores like chopping down trees, fetching water from the river, making furniture and often building a wooden house. The old man has got a niece who left Beijing after her father was killed by a gang of renegade fighters.

After a long while the old man, due to insistence from the niece decides to give the young man a shot and trains him. Then the man falls for the niece and they make love. At the end of the training the old man gives the young man a rucksack with fruits to devour on his way to his homeland to fight. He warns him 'never fight out of anger, always do it for self-defence when your life is really threatened'.

The young man returns and finds that the situation is worse than when he left it and is soon taunted to fight by the local boys who call him a coward. He starts fighting and wins a lot of fights, earning a reputation with locals until the man who killed his father catches up with his reputation and decides to watch him fight. He sees how he defeats his students and the young man full of vigour yells to the master, 'you are next'.

This sets the ball rolling as the renegade killer sets a date for the fight and even puts a prize. On fight day before he goes into the ring he is given a parcel by a man who looks tired, seemingly he had been running for three days. When the boy opens the parcel he finds the long beard of Silver Fox. He is angry and goes into the ring agitated, and he remembers the words of the old man not to fight when angry.

As the fight progresses, which he should be beaten first he takes a serious pounding with the renegade reminding him that 'a snake will never win a fight with a cat'. He gets so beaten that his arm is broken. Then when the tables start to turn and he lands useful blows to the man, tearing down his trophy necklace in the process he looks up and sees the renegade's people holding the niece hostage, her arms tied and her mouth gagged with a read piece of cloth.

He gets angry and when he fights out of anger he gets beaten. The renegade tells him to give up and he will get his 'girlfriend (niece)' and leave the village. He is about to agree when he has a trance and remembers Silver Fox saying 'he killed your father - it's payback time'. He takes to his feet and beats the living daylights out of the man until he falls twenty feet down on a wall made of sharp spikes and dies.

There's applause as the group lets the hostage free and she runs to him, hugs and kisses him.

Fine, I hope you were not bored because these are the type of storylines that we grew up on. One of my friends used to say, 'me, I want a kung-fu movie where there's no car, no gun and the people wear only sandals. The one where we see lots of hawks and eagles. That's vintage karate for me my friend'.

He was right, recently I can't help being bored by plastic martial arts movies starring people like Chris Tucker, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, Jet Li, Dolf Lundgren, Jean Claude van Damme whereby when a man is about to lose a fight he reaches for his gun and starts spraying slugs. Yuck!, I want the old whereby a man didn't run into his car when cornered but ran on feet for three days, only pausing to take a sip of water in his rucksack. That's the karate movies I liked, the rest is plain bollocks!

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