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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Godfrey Ho Appreciation Month - An Introduction

Cartoon by Christopher McElfresh
I hereby dub August Godfrey Ho Appreciation Month and that means lots and lots of awesome ninja action!  The 1970’s were an important time for movies in America.  There were several elements from that decade that contributed to the changes, one being the rise of Independent Cinema, and another was Bruce Lee.  In fact, I don’t think it is often stressed enough just how huge of an impact Bruce Lee had on cinema, not just here in the States, but everywhere.  

Asian cinema began to grow in popularity during the late 50’s thanks to the films of directors like Akira Kurosawa, who created sweeping historical narratives highlighting feudal Japan and showing us a side of a culture we had only really heard about through WWII news headlines and biased word of mouth.  It would be a few years before we got our first taste of Bruce Lee here in the popular TV show the Green Hornet, which aired from 1966-67.  Lee had, by this time, already appeared in a number of films from the growing Hong Kong circuit and was trying to break into Hollywood to better share his love of the Martial Arts and his amazing acting and fighting ability with the world.  
Bruce Lee.  Image from page.

Lee’s films more or less opened the door to the Kung Fu genre to become the powerhouse fans recognize it to be today, and like all other growing fads, there were plenty of others with slightly less talent who would move in to latch on to that success.  One such director out of the 1970’s was Godfrey Ho.  But Ho, along with producer and colleague Joseph Lai, become notorious for re-editing their own movies while splicing in some new footage featuring American actors.  This was principally a business decision as Ho operated under the assumption that by having actors from the US in his films, and giving them top-billing upon release, he would generate a stronger following.  He was wrong.  

Still, Ho and Lai did quite well for themselves.  Just during the 1980’s they released well over 80 films, most were re-hashes and re-edits.  He did do some entirely original films as well, and we’ll talk about those too.  So, without further ado, let us kick off Godfrey Ho Appreciation Month with a film starring one of his favorite Spliced-In Superstars, Pierre Kirby: Full Metal Ninja.

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