Tuesday, January 13, 2015

639. Shao Lin san shi liu fang/Shaolin Master Killer (1978)

Running Time: 115 minutes
Directed By: Chia-Liang Liu
Written By: Kuang Ni
Main Cast: Liu Chia-Hui, Lo Lieh, Wang Yu, Yu Yang, Hsu Shao-Chiang
Click here to view the trailer


So plans have been changed a bit, as after I finish writing this review my wife has urged me to finish reading Gone Girl (only 20 or so pages left now), so that we can watch the movie tonight. She had a dentist appointment today, so I owe her a little quality time. I've made the proper adjustments to my schedule and talked her into watching a movie with me on Thursday night, so I still plan to finish this season on Monday. Anyway - everybody was kung fu fighting...

I really expected to hate this, but it turns out I didn't mind it. Liu Chia-Hui (aka Gordon Liu, who modern movie goers may remember as Pai Mei from Kill Bill Vol. 2) is San Te, a young student living in Hong Kong during a time of rebellion. When his father, an innocent restaurant owner, is murdered by the rebellion, San Te seeks retreat at a Shaolin temple, where he plans to gain the knowledge needed to seek vengeance. I'll brutally honest, the first half hour is a chore to sit through and pretty much outlines what I've just went over. It's the middle hour when I got into full blow, shoveling popcorn in by the handfuls mode, perked up and sweetened on this movie. The middle hour details San Te's training, beginning with crossing a pond by using a bundle of logs as a stepping stone. From there, he's forced to carry buckets of water with knives attached to his forearms (if his arms fall, he stabs himself in the ribs), follow a candle flame with his eyes (not his head) and use his head to pounce sandbags. Long story short, he must go through thirty five chambers of the shaolin arts before he is deemed worthy of the temple and given the change to oversee his own chamber of the shaolin. When San Te suggests a 36th chamber, his is banished and uses the time to seek the vengeance that he once swore.

I knew this was a kung fu movie, but when I saw that "Shawscope" logo at the beginning, I was reminded of a few other kung fu movies I've watched for THE BOOK so far and how much I loathed them, even the Jackie Chan one that I just couldn't settle into, despite his impressive skills. So this was chugging along and I was hating it, barely even paying attention, just wanting it to be over. Then we get to the scene where San Te has to cross the pond on the bundle of sticks and I perk up, like a cat who's just seen a blue jay fly by the window on a lazy Sunday. I begin to take an interest and all the while, I'm thinking, "Is that Pai Mei?". Turns out it was Pai Mei and turns out I'm now somewhat of a Gordon Liu fan and wouldn't object to checking out a few more of his films, however am not keen on the idea of sitting through another martial arts flick - conundrum! THE BOOK notes that it's impossible to go away from this one disappointed and I'd disagree, even though I'm perfectly pleased with the turn out and wouldn't even mind recommending this to someone who was in need of a good martial arts picture. This isn't going to be for everyone though and leaving disappointed is something I'm sure this movie has done to some of it's viewers. If you're completely in the dark when it comes to martial arts/kung fu movies, then this would be a good first feature for you. Go in expecting nothing, sit back and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, especially once those first thirty minutes are in the rearview mirror. I'm still anti martial arts movie and really have no desire to see another one and honestly, it's easy to believe that this is the best one out there. Are there better ones? And which other martial arts movies would you guys recommend to beginners of the genre?

RATING: 6/10  Keeping it short & sweet tonight, as I just don't have a lot to say, plus my wife awaits, so there's that too.


January 13, 2015  5:49pm


  1. I am glad you liked this one a little bit. I personally liked this so much I now own it. It also made me want to check out more martial arts films. I haven't seen that many of this type of movie, but I do know that this is considered one of the best and most influential. I am sure that is why it was put in the book. Good review.

    1. I would be down for more martial arts movies, but I'd need recommendations and for someone to know that I'm not the biggest fan of them and for them to rec me some based on liking this one.

  2. I've never gone as far as hating any of these.. but rather found them rather boring.
    OK, I can admire the skill of the actors - performers?- it is magnificent choreography and certainly something to see. These films are HUGE taking the world as a whole.. but for me.. lots of people hitting each other, endlessly.. well, just not my thing.
    That said, I guess as these things go, this one is Ok..I guess because a lot is about the training .. so you see the skills develop?
    I can see a lot of people reacting strongly to an accusation the Martial Arts films are ' boring'!

    1. For some reason, I just can't think of the name of the one that I really disliked...which doesn't say much for it. And I also remember struggling to get through the one Jackie Chan one from the book (which was actually two, because Project A 2 was in THE BOOK, which I couldn't watch without watching Project A 1). Anyway...I didn't mind this one...

  3. Yes, I've seen more entertaining Jackie Chan's they could have picked than 'Project A'


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