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Black Kung Fu has been here for years. From Kareem Abdul Jabbar squaring up with Bruce Lee to the rebellious Riley and Huey fight scenes in “The Boondocks”, Black people have long embraced the discipline of martial arts on the big and small screen. And Chris Everett of Speller Street Films says Black Kung Fu Cinema goals are intentional — To bring Blackness back to Durham’s Black Wall Street.
Not only a fan of history but an avid collector, Everett recognizes the value of art, and (re)introducing these films to modern audiences keeps their spirit alive while also giving flowers to those who came before him. So modern in fact that on April 23rd, there will be a DJ to provide the vibes along with a recorded Q&A featuring martial arts legend Ron van Clief, followed by a dance party for all attendees.
Everett wants to remind audiences of the Blaxploitation Era in which Black people were featured on screen more than any point in American history and were bolder than any era since. Everett states, “we had just come out of the civil rights era and Black people had something to say. We still do.”
The hair, the lingo, fighting “the man,” the fashion, and Karate in many of the Blaxploitation movies often made up for the snap-edits and low-budget feel that was still preferred over Hollywood’s traditional blockbuster budget features according to Everett.
In fact, Black Kung Fu movie Superfly, which was made on a $500,00 budget, would go on to earn $11 million at the box office. Hollywood knew our movies could sell and spinoffs galore would follow during the 70s, resulting in over 200 Blaxploitation films being made in less than a decade.
Many of the Black Kung Fu fight scenes in those movies influenced Everett, who has spent the last five years filming a documentary about Black martial artist Victor Moore. NC native Victor Moore is a four-time world karate champion who holds a 10th Degree Black Belt in Karate and has studied martial arts for over 50 years across multiple disciplines.
Like a true historian unsatisfied with mere nostalgia, Everett wants to showcase Black stories through education while also entertaining audiences about Black excellence. Doors open at 6 pm for the upcoming THE BLACK DRAGON’S REVENGE screening and the screening begins at 7 pm on April 23rd, TNT JACKSON follows the same time format on May 21st. Both events will take place at The Pinhook in downtown Durham, NC, in-person and virtual tickets are available now.