Jigoku & the Korean Film Festival

All this week we’ve been looking at classic Asian Action and martial arts screenings that have taken place in London, all in the build up to our own Shaw Brothers Tribute this Monday night. Today for our final entry we’re hitting you with two great events in one. First up it’s the Jigoku All Night Kung Fu event from back in 2002, at the much missed The Other Cinema.

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This all-nighter was put on as part of the Weird World Cinema Season, which ran from 23rd to 31st May 2002 at The Other Cinema. It’s possible this season was set up to tie in with the Mondo Macabro TV show with ran on Channel 4 around the same time but I can’t be sure about that. I didn’t make it along to the all-nighter, which is a shame, but I always loved their selection of films for the night: Demon Strike, Enter The Fat Dragon, Hells Wind’s Staff and Born Invincible.

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But what I did see at the festival was the 1967 Spaghetti Western Bandidos, directed by Massimo Dallamano. Now I say I saw this, but I’ll be honest and say it ranks the worst cinema viewing experience I’ve ever had. The print was the worst condition I’ve ever seen anything in, I don’t mind scratches, splices or a red print, but this had everything in the worst shape I’ve ever seen. The sound was drowned out by a huge hiss, the picture was scratched beyond anything I’ve ever seen before, but the worst part was that The Other Cinema didn’t have the correct anamorphic lense for the projector, so the entire film was screened in the wrong ratio.

10 out of 10 for finding the print and programming it, but there comes a time when you just have to say a print has passed its screen life and retire it. I went out of the screening to ask if they could change the lense, only to find someone else already out there asking the same thing! Still any cinema experience is fun and at least I ended up with a great worst screening experience. I hope the kung fu all-nighter went off better, I do wish I could have made it along to that one. I think the Jigoku event was a one-off, I never saw anything from them again and I’ve never found out who actually put it all together, but it was a great idea and one of those things I’d always wish I watched more at, as long as the prints had been better though.

Now the Korean Film Festival is a very successful season that runs here in London every year, it’s really grown over the years and manages to secure big names stars and a great selection of new Korean films. What we’re going to look at though is one very specific things about it, the fact that for a couple of years all their films used to be FREE ENTRY!

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Yes when the festival was at The Prince Charles Cinema they used to let everyone in free, which of course lead a massive turn out, with huge queues stretching all the way back into Leicester Square, all of which made actually getting a very challenging experience. But it was worth, just to see the incredible Taegukgi (aka Brotherhood) on the big screen with a completely packed house! After a couple of years the festival reverted back to regular tickets, but the utterly fantastic idea of having all films playing for free really was a great way to get a real buzz going around the festival, we probably won’t see anyone else doing that again for a really long time!

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