Review | RZA Spins a New Take on an Old Classic

Film director, musician, and performer RZA took the stage at the Warner Theatre on April 18th for a compelling audio-visual experience that combined DJing with a screening of Lau Kar-Leung’s 1978 classic, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin. RZA, whose real name is Robert Diggs, has become an influential figure in hip-hop culture, leading the Wu-Tang Clan who released four gold and platinum albums from 1993 to present. Their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), was inspired by the 1978 film and is a critically acclaimed hip-hop album.

In addition to his music career, RZA is also a notable actor and film director, staring in films such as G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Brick Mansions, and American Gangster, and collaborating with filmmaker Quentin Tarantino to score the soundtracks for Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003) and Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004). The event at the Warner Theatre was a collaboration between promoter Nü Androids and Flash Live, and it began with a montage of clips from some of RZA’s musical and cinematic works. RZA took the stage with a rousing welcome and introduced the film by explaining its importance to friends and collaborators on Staten Island, where Wu-Tang Clan was formed. After the introduction, a large projection screen came down to center stage and for nearly two hours, the audience watched young San Te go from village pupil to Kung Fu master. The entire screening was accompanied by RZA spinning old and new hip-hop tracks that gave modern meanings to old traditions scene. The event was a unique transcendence of music, culture, and Kung Fu tradition, and ended with RZA describing the connection between film and music as codified in the “waveform” between where sound and light meet. This event will be remembered by audiences and Wu-Tang fans for years to come.