Last Run Kung Fu

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6-2-78, Shreveport, Louisiana – The ad that spawned a T-Shirt.

Wild Martial Arts flicks in the Late 70’s to Early 80’s were a serious mark of a theater headed down the path to it’s final days, or at least to a point where things can turn around. With the many films distributed through small distributors to choose from, may Downtown screens were offering an alternative to the Saturday Afternoon show on TV to see Kung Fu as it was meant to be seen – on the big screens with the audience shouting out.

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10-6-78, Shreveport, Louisiana

With all of the Bruce Lee, Bruce Li, Bruce Leigh, and Bruce whoever flicks going on, just playing something with Bruce in the title was a guarantee that at least some people will see it or just get a ticket to hang out for whatever reason (It was The 70’s, of course!). The sad thing was that the theaters knew that their days were numbered – in the case of the Shreveport ads, it was the case of the once-strong Don Theater, which was connected to the Don Drive In as part of the Gulf States Theaters chain, being trumped by the Mall theaters in the area and left all alone Downtown trying to survive. It would play some mainstream and second-third run films, too, but those were the times.

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4-5-85, Akron – And you thought you have seen everything – Here’s a double Drive In show including Brute Lee and Lee Bruce!

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4-3-81, Detroit – The Fox was running these Kung Fu triple bills for a couple of years, usually released in the US through 21’st Century (Nightmare, Cathy’s Curse, and a lot more) but it would see a change to a Summer of mixed programming that tried to bring in the mainstream – and knowing Downtown Detroit at that time, the mainstream was at the Movies At theaters in the malls enough to kill that plan quick. By the end of the year, the theater would change to a live venue and move into being a super-sized performance hall. I’m sure there are those who miss the days of chop-chop.

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3-21-80, Pittsburgh

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9-14-82, Pittsburgh – the Pittsburgh Warner was in a sad shape by this time and would close by the Summer of 1983.

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3-30-79, Chicago – The Woods would close up shop in 1988, but for a while it was a place where Kung Fu would usually join up with one Horror film, although this time the triple feature was all chopping and ready to go with Bruce Lee Posters! As for Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave…you can’t keep a good ad down!

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4-18-80, Suburbs of Los Angeles – Jim Kelly’s already played-out Al Adamson-directed flick with some action from the Green Hornet series put into a short film. Obviously trying to lure in fans of the legendary Enter the Dragon.

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6-8-80, Albany, GA – I’m sure they do, Mr. Le with one E!

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5-16-80, Toledo – The Colony was the city’s prime center of Exploitation (it even played Let Me Die a Woman!), but it would close up in the next year.

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12-5-80, Toledo – The Pantheon had the same fate as the Colon when it closed in the Summer of 1981. I could not resist throwing in the X-Rated version of Caligula playing at the Cine North on Suder in a strip mall (RIP, circa 1984, death by North Towne Square). I don’t think that Detroit even had that version.

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12-17-76, Monroe, Louisiana – The Capri was going down, but not without some of the most WTF fare to be unleashed. Bingo on Tuesday and Wednesday?!!!

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9-5-80, Akron

The ultimate Bruceplo Rip Off Triple Play. The programmers had to seriously know these things and the audience to go along with them.

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2-18-83, Detroit – With the Fox already a live venue, someone had to try and take the Kung Fu Triple Feature Crown in the Motor City. f12-17-82

2-17-82, Detroit – As The Empire Strikes Back turned into a smash hit, it was obvious that 21’st Century would try to sneak in a Kung Fu epic with a slightly similar title. The Northgate was a small tri-plex near the Hazel Park area which usually had a screen playing Kung Fu for a while. Sadly, the scene for exploitation was going fast and it turned to one-second-run-film per screen.

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9-13-84, Spokane, Washington – The Starlite was closing up shop with a long list of great shows surrounding around a theme that made the Drive In tun through the years. Although some would say that Kung Fu was not a Drive in staple, there were those who did well with it.

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~ by screen13 on September 17, 2016.

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