(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)
Fans of classic martial-arts films should clear their schedules and head to Chinatown this week as the Asian Community Development Corporation and Boston Street Lab present the seventh annual Films at the Gate.
The four-night free outdoor film festival runs from Thursday, Aug. 23, to Sunday, Aug. 26, and features three beloved films of the 1970s and ’80s alongside one more recent selection. All films this year will be shown in the Chinatown Park on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, near the Chinatown Gate.
Films at the Gate began in 2006, when Boston Street Lab founders Sam and Leslie Davol decided to enliven an empty lot near their new home on Hudson Street by bringing together the Chinatown community for a shared cultural experience.
They worked with the Asian CDC and film scholar Jean Lukitsh to assemble an annual event that would celebrate Chinese culture in a way that was accessible to people from many backgrounds.
“That’s kind of the value I see of this kind of event,” Davol said in a 2011 interview . “It really isn’t just for Chinatown. It’s a very urban event in a way, and gets a mix of people from all over Boston.”
The 2012 series kicks off Thursday with “Master of the Flying Guillotine,” a 1976 Taiwanese cult classic about an imperial assassin’s pursuit of a one-armed martial-arts master. Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino has called the film one of his all-time favorites.
Friday’s film is “The Young Master” from 1980, a Hong Kong film directed by and starring Jackie Chan. Chan plays an orphan who grew up with his brother in a kung fu school and must bring the brother back and make him repent after betraying his master in favor of a rival school.
Jet Li made his film debut in Saturday’s film, 1982’s “Shaolin Temple.” The film was shot in mainland China, on the grounds of the famed Buddhist temple in Henan Province. It tells the story of a boy who is orphaned when his father is killed by the guards of a cruel warlord and finds refuge in the temple, learning martial arts to avenge his father.
The festival closes on Sunday night with “Ip Man 2,” a 2010 film starring Donnie Yen as a grand master of the Wing Chun martial art. Loosely based on the real life of Ip Man, the film tells the story of his efforts to recruit new practitioners to Wing Chun in Hong Kong under British rule.
Each film will begin at 8 p.m., following a set of performances and short films beginning at 7 p.m. All films are presented in the original Chinese (Thursday and Saturday’s films are in Mandarin; Friday and Sunday’s in Cantonese) with English subtitles or with English summaries provided if subtitles are not available.
Some folding chairs are provided on a first-come, first-served basis, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own seating. The organizers also encourage attendees to support Chinatown businesses by bringing take-out food from local restaurants.