Coming to Denver: Classic kung-fu flicks set to hip-hop licks


Unique film experience brings live scoring to screenings of Enter the Dragon and Blade

A unique film experience is coming to Denver that caters to lovers of hip-hop, Kung-Fu flicks and the music they inspired. It’s called Can I Kick It? And the answer is: Why yes, you can.

DJ 2-Tone Jones at a 'Can I Kick It?' event

DJ 2-Tone Jones at a ‘Can I Kick It?’ event .

At each event, a cult-classic martial arts film is screened and live-scored with a blend of hip-hop, soul and funk by DJ 2-Tone Jones. The result is a live, remixed soundtrack to the movies using music and DJ techniques to accentuate elements of specific scenes and fighting sequences.

Can I Kick It?, co-created by Jones and Gerald Watson, is coming to the Studio Loft Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex for two nights and two flicks. On Friday, January 24, the featured film will be the Bruce Lee 1973 classic Enter the Dragon. On January 25, it will be Wesley Snipes’ 1998 vampire fave Blade.

Can I Kick It? is a unique experience because of its combination of martial arts and hip-hop,” Watson said.

Since December 2013, more than 50 films have been screened at Can I Kick It? events hosted monthly in Washington, D.C., and events across the country. In 2017, Watson, co-founder of Shaolin Jazz, teamed up with the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District to produce the first annual Can I Kick It? outdoor film screening series, which drew more than 1,000 attendees. The next year, Can I Kick It? was featured at the Made in Hong Kong Film Festival. A year ago, a special, sold-out screening of the 1979 cult classic film The Warriors was held at the Kennedy Center.

The Denver engagement of Can I Kick It?, named after the seminal A Tribe Called Quest hip-hop song from 1990 (“Come and spread your arms if you really need a hug”), is a collaboration between the Denver Center and the city’s Department of Arts & Venues. John Ekeberg, the DCPA’s Executive Director of Broadway and Cabaret, said Can I Kick It? is a continuation of the organization’s efforts to engage the local hip-hop community that have included hosting Jonzi-D’s Breakin’ Convention, the world’s biggest festival of international hip-hop dance theatre, in 2017 and ’18.

The Studio Loft Theatre that will host 'Can I Kick It?' in Denver.

The Studio Loft Theatre that will host ‘Can I Kick It?’ in Denver.

“The DCPA is always looking for opportunities to broaden our reach in terms of the communities we serve by offering a range of experiences that might appeal to those folks who don’t typically come down here,” Ekeberg said. Mark Heiser, Venue Director for the Denver Performing Arts Complex, said the city of Denver is thrilled to collaborate with the DCPA on this venture. “Can I Kick It? touches on two goals for the Arts Complex: To strengthen our relationship with our resident companies, and to welcome the community to enjoy a diverse range of activities that enhance the downtown experience,” he said.

Watson and Jones say Can I Kick It? appeals to hip-hop fans both old and young – even if they were born after the featured films were released. They might not have much direct reference to the early days of seminal artists like A Tribe Called Quest or Wu-Tang Clan or De La Soul. “But they like the idea of looking at old movies,” Watson said. “And they like the idea of listening to classic hip-hop. So we are able to give them two things they are interested in but don’t really know about.”

Blade enter the dragon Here are both Denver films at a glance:

  • Enter the Dragon: Recruited by an intelligence agency, outstanding martial arts student Bruce Lee participates in a brutal karate tournament hosted by the evil Han (Kien Shih). Along with champions Roper (John Saxon) and Williams (Jim Kelly), Lee uncovers Han’s white slavery and drug trafficking ring located on a secret island fortress. In the exciting climax, hundreds of freed prisoners fight in an epic battle with Lee and Han locked in a deadly duel. One of the first films to bring martial arts action to a mainstream audience, 1973’s Enter the Dragon was the final film Bruce Lee completed before his death.
  • Blade: The power of an immortal. The soul of a human. The heart of a hero. Sworn to defend humanity, although not entirely human. Born with the cunning and superhuman power of a vampire, but able to stalk by day as well as night. Wesley Snipes stars in this action-packed thriller as the immortal vampire hunter Blade. Awakened to consciousness – and pain – before birth by the bite of the undead vampire that kills his mother, a young boy grows into a mythical warrior bearing a blood-curse: An almost insatiable desire for blood that he must fight every moment of every day.

Ekeberg  said Can I Kick It? will be an opportunity for many attendees to visit the Studio Loft for the first time. That’s an 8,000-square-foot event space above the Ellie Caulkins Opera House with a cathedral ceiling, exposed brick, wood floors and an attached bar. Its capacity is about 400.

“If you are interested in a unique cultural activity that combines art forms in a super-cool new studio space downtown, this is for you,” said Ekeberg, who plans to attend both screenings.

“I like to believe that I kick it regularly in my life, but I certainly will be kicking it at the Studio Loft on January 24 and 25,” he said.

Can I Kick It?

Can I Kick It? Ticket information

  • Dates: January 24 and 25
  • Where: The Studio Loft Theatre above the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Champa streets
  • Genre: Film screenings set to live scores by DJ 2-Tone Jones
  • Films: Enter the Dragon on Friday, January 24; Blade on Saturday, January 25. Both are Rated-R.
  • Presented by:
  • Tickets: $15 and can be purchased at 303-893-4100, in person in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex or online by clicking here:

More about DJ 2-Tone Jones

A true fundamentals DJ, 2-Tone Jones speaks with his hands as in the tradition of hip-hop’s founding element. And through his bottomless crates has rocked parties across the country as well as locations in India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Germany, The Netherlands, Lebanon and Denmark. On the performance side, 2-Tone has shared the stage and backed the likes of De La Soul, Robert Glasper, N’Dea Davenport (from The Brand New Heavies), Kendrick Lamar, Brand Nubian, Raekwon, Pete Rock, Phife Dog (from A Tribe Called Quest), Raheem DeVaughn, Pharoah Monch, Large Professor, Algebra Blessett, Jabba (HHP), Oddisee, Camp Lo, Tracey Lee, Unspoken Heard (Asheru & Blue Black) and harmonica virtuoso Frederic Yonnet. In 2011, 2-Tone teamed up with tastemaker Gerald Watson to release “Shaolin Jazz: The 37th Chamber,” a mix project that involves jazz fused with verses and samples from the Wu-Tang Clan. Through the success and evolution of Shaolin Jazz, they have been traveling to universities and colleges across the country conducting presentations focused on the parallels and connections between jazz and hip-hop. In 2014, 2-Tone was selected by the University of North Carolina and the U.S. State Department to travel to India to serve as a cultural ambassador on behalf of the U.S. and hip-hop and to initiate dialogue about hip-hop as a means of conflict resolution.

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