Chasing the Dragon: The Path to Becoming a Kung Fu Junky
EXPERIMENTING – Most addicts don’t set out to become physically and psychologically dependent on Kung Fu. A full blown Kung Fu addiction often starts with an innocent desire to experience something new: a comedy with a little Kung Fu thrown in for a lark. Make no mistake, these films are dangerous. The most common gateway films may not be traditional Kung Fu flicks, but they will start you a path to ruin that you may never escape from.
Kung Fu Hustle (2004) – Directed by Stephen Chow this hilarious comedy uses Loony Tunes like slapstick to draw in audiences but it also provides fight scenes and Kung Fu tropes in perfect doses. The amount of Kung Fu in this movie is not enough to scare you away but just enough to peak your interest, so you start asking yourself, “What’s this Kung Fu thing all about?”
Shaolin Soccer (2001) – Another classic from Stephen Chow (aka the pusher). This is a sports comedy that’s so funny you’ll forget it’s also full of high flying kicks to the face.
Rush Hour (1998) – Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth? Gateway drug.
SOCIAL USE – Social Kung Fu use is the watching of a mainstream Kung Fu film or any combination of Kung Fu action hybrids in social situations. You’re just out with a group of friends looking for a good time, what’s the harm?
Kill Bill (2003) – In much the same way that Disco helped bring cocaine into mainstream US culture in the 70’s, Kill Bill brought Kung Fu into the country in the early 2000’s introducing a new generation of young Americans to old school punching sound effects and Gordon Liu.
The Matrix (1999) – Anybody who was anybody did Matrix in the late 90’s, and like aging hippy acidheads we’ve all got stories about how “it totally blew us away man.”
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000) – This is movie that took Kung Fu off of the streets and into the art schools and college campuses.
The Raid: Redemption (2011) – Vegas Kung Fu. If you want a reckless night out with the boys and maybe end up at a strip club afterwards, this is the movie for you. What happens in Indonesian Kung Fu movies, stays in Indonesian Kung Fu movies.
REGULAR USE – Experimental and social Kung Fu use becomes regular Kung Fu use when the user starts to incorporate the Kung Fu into his or her usual cinema routines. Now you’re picking Kung Fu every time you have a movie night and you’re constantly re-watching your old favorites. This is where Kung Fu stops being a game and starts to become habit forming.
Iron Monkey (1993) – starring Donnie Yen of Ip Man fame, Iron Monkey has a lot of goofy slapstick in it, but make no mistake this is the hard stuff: amazing action choreography, and creative, wild characters, like a villain with sleeves that shoot out of his robe, entangling victims.
The 36 Chambers of Shaolin (1978) – After you watch 36 Chambers there is no turning back. This movie is the ultimate Kung Fu high, nothing else compares to it. It stars legend Gordon Liu going through a series of rigorous training techniques, which transform him into a Shaolin master. The perfect blend of comedy and action that hits like a needle to the vein.
Fist of Fury (1972) – Bruce Lee is a pop culture icon. You see him on t-shirts and postcards, referenced constantly in media, his famous “WAAAASAAAA!” recognizable to even the casual fan. When you see him beat up a dojo full of Japanese karate masters in Fist you’ll see why so many get hooked on Bruce.
Drunken Master II (1994) – Jackie Chan has made a lot of Kung Fu films but this one is blue meth. The final fight equipped with flaming kicks to the head lets you know, “This ain’t your Daddy’s Kung Fu.”
RISKY USE – In the risk-taking stage of Kung Fu fandom, many people become aware that they have a problem, a partner may break up with you because they are sick of re-watching Once Upon a Time in China (1991), or you may even be fired from your job because you skipped work to go see the latest Ong Bak (2003) sequel.
Drunken Master (1978) – You’re down the rabbit hole now. You went and found the original film that made Jackie Chan a star and immortalized the infamous Wong Fei-Hung.
The Victim (1980) – Do I need to tell you that you have a problem when you’re watching a movie starring a guy nicknamed “the fastest fat”?
Return to the 36th Chamber (1980) – I like this sequel to 36 Chambers of Shaolin almost as much as the original. It’s not even a real sequel, it stars Gordon Liu but the plot is completely unrelated to the first film and I love every minute of it. I need help.
DEPENDENCY – Now you need a lot more of the Kung Fu to get high, relax, or even feel normal. You stay up all night flipping channels in hopes that One Armed Swordsman (1967) will just happen to come on. You’re outside a Wal-Mart itching your neck and begging for a dollar so you can dig through the bargain bin in search of some grainy poorly mastered DVD. You’re at a truck stop doing favors for copies of shitty public domain Kung Fu “classics”. This is rock bottom.
Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976) /The Kid With the Golden Arm (1979) /Five Deadly Venoms (1978) / The Snake in the Eagles Shadow (1978) / Shaolin Challenges Ninja (1978) – These movies are fun sure, but they are all goofy and campy to the point of being borderline embarrassing to watch. What are you doing to yourself? Your parents are worried. We love you and hate to see you throwing your life away like this.
Listen to podcast Episode 2 to hear that Half and Half is experimenting with Kung Fu, both Chocolate Teacher and I are regular users and, interestingly, PPP’s tastes in Kung Fu puts him deep in the dependency stage of Kung Fu addiction.