What To Watch: First Movie Theater Experience

It’s become clear to me over the years that my church is the movie theater. I’d go as far as to say that any place in which I’m watching a movie becomes a sacred place to me by default. It’s a space in which talking is the highest offense and my most important relationship is the one I’ve got with the screen.

In this segment, the Garage crew trades views and stories about the moviegoing experience. In the process, you’ll hear some fun trivia about Sung’s film FINISHING THE GAME and the not-so-subtle AMERICAN NINJA.

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Silent Theater is Best Theater

My personal hero David reveals himself to be the movie theater vigilante, discussing his no-nonsense approach to dealing with talking during a film. As someone living with anxiety, I hold a deep appreciation for David telling any loud rabble rousers to simply shut up. Whether it’s an audience member illuminating the dark space with their bright-ass cell phone or the kids narrating the whole Harry Potter movie, David isn’t afraid to speak up.


But there are exceptions to the golden standard of silence. Cory brings up his love for audience energy, getting into how much he misses people reacting to the comedy or horror happening on the screen. Anderson echoes the sentiment, citing the opening night energy at screenings of films like THE AVENGERS

First Times at the Movies

The earliest instance I can remember was going to an opening week show of Disney’s THE LION KING. I saw that movie multiple times, but in each instance, I adored the design of the svelte Scar over that of the huskier Mufasa. I was enamored with his look that I was the only child – let alone person – who cheered when Scar did Mufasa dirty.

No, Anderson – I didn’t need a child psychologist!

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is Cory’s first movie memory, with the film’s Battle of Hoth being one of its strongest impressions. Despite falling asleep in the middle of the film, our intrepid crew member woke up in time for the climactic conversation between Luke and Vader. In a clear example of ‘like parent, like child,’ now it’s Cory’s son who often falls asleep in the middle of movies.

The American Ninja, everyone.

The proprietor of this here garage vaguely remembers a series of Disney movies he saw, but the first movie to really strike Sung was the seminal Michael Dudikoff film AMERICAN NINJA. Sung left that screening wanting to be a ninja himself and, in fact, later starred in the 2009 film NINJA ASSASSIN.

Anderson recounts going to an O’ahu drive-in with his parents, refugees from Vietnam. Though he only saw 10 minutes of this film, FLESH GORDON remains a lasting memory in his mind. Putting myself in his shoes, I think I’d feel the same way about seeing a movie with clothes burning off and spontaneous orgies with my parents.

Butt more flesh.

Unsurprisingly, multiple theaters form the foundation of David’s initial experience. He has many fond memories of Empress Theater, now a church in downtown Hawaii. Anytime the Shaw Scope logo appeared, he’d instantly be transported without fail; it was the singular reason he became a cinephile. But David still can’t forget about Bruce Li – the inspiration for Sung’s character Breeze Loo in…

Finishing the Game!

Sung’s favorite film with Justin LinFINISHING THE GAME was born out of a discussion about GAME OF DEATH during the making of TOKYO DRIFT. So entwined is the latter with the former that many of the sets from FTG are from TOKYO DRIFT.

The power of cinema.

Sung shares a story of walking down Ventura Blvd. with Justin and being stopped by a fan. While he initially thought the fan would cite a FAST & FURIOUS movie, the person from Peru was instead effusive about FTG.


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