Sunday, March 14, 2004

things to which I aspire

1. Tough chickhood, as defined by coldfury. Although I'm really going to have to work on my drinking to get anywhere close; right now I'm a lightweight sissy-girl on the alcohol front. As last night's adventure getting home after flyering at 111 Minna amply proves; half a glass of Blackthorn cider (sissy drink that looks like beer) and I was wobbling alarmingly down Market Street. Shout out to the fellow at 7-11 who sold me a packet of cookies to absorb the alcohol, all the while telling me about his lack of luck with women.

Although I would like to think chasing a speed-addled burglar out of my place with nothing in my hand but a cordless telephone should gain me some points, yes?

2. Mastery of something on the level of the incredible stuntpeople profiled in the gloriously built Robin Shou's new film Red Trousers (down girl, down; thought I'd played out the Asian fetish but apparently I haven't.) Even if you would not willingly sit through Mortal Kombat just to watch Shou kicking snakey bad guy tuchuses, you need to see his movie. He combines talking head footage, clips from a totally overblown, apparently made-up movie meant to showcase different stunts, and shots of HK stuntfolk falling three stories, falling off bridges onto moving trucks, getting thrown off motorcycles hit by cars, getting the tar kicked out of them, etc. Oh, and plenty of adorable footage of little tiny kids learning the performing arts the way they do it in China; think 'doing twenty flips in a row' and 'spinning on your head' and you start to get the idea. I realized that my own students have it incredibly easy, and I wish they could all see this film. Then I could point out, when they complain, that in our dojo they don't get beaten if they can't stand on their hands for an hour and a half before breakfast.

There's this one old-school Beijing Opera-trained stuntguy, in jeans and gold chain and Mao jacket, who explains that today's stuntfolk have it easy. At the birth of HK cinema, he tells us, asking for pads was unheard of, and was a sure sign that you couldn't cut it. In those days, the stunt men were tough and strong. My companion and I were howling; he leaned over and whispered and we had to climb uphill five miles. We watch one guy, perhaps an Aussie, get slammed into a wall by Shou; when he comes up he says how can you work in an office when you can do this? The esteemed Sammo Hung notes that American actors are wusses; you can't slap them around. And I loved the stunt man who shares his trick for sussing out what will be expected of him when he gets to the set: if there's a two or three storey building, I'm going to fall. If it's set in a remote location, there will be an explosion.

Just go. It's a tad long, but simply fucking amazing.