HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Iceman
Blue Sky
Tokyo Dragon Chef
Pittsburgh
12 Hour Shift
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Alone
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
Shaolin vs. Wu Tang
Fatman
   
 
Newest Articles
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
   
 
  Shaolin Bald, Buddhist and Bad-ass
Year: 2011
Director: Benny Chan
Stars: Andy Lau, Nicholas Tse, Fan Bingbing, Jackie Chan, Jacky Wu Jing, Yu Shao-Qun, Xing Yu, Yue Hoi, Xiong Xin-Xin, Bai Bing, Shi Xiao-Hong, Liang Jing-Ke, Shimada Runa, Karl Robert Eislen, Alexander Murkhanov, Chen Zhi-Hui, Li Qi-Long, Ho Chung-Wa
Genre: Drama, War, Martial Arts, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: At the turn of the century, China was torn apart by feuding warlords. The oppressed peasantry relied on the benevolence of the martial arts skilled monks at Shaolin Temple, who offered them food and shelter. Among the most fearsome warlords is General Hou Jie (Andy Lau) who is so ruthless he pursues then shoots dead a rival inside the sacred temple itself. Hou imparts his take-no-prisoners philosophy to his second-in-command, Tsao Man (Nicholas Tse), but behind closed doors remains a devoted husband and father. However, the tables are turned when Hou attempts to assassinate his one-time ally, General Song (Shi Xiao-Hong), but is himself betrayed by the ambitious Tsao Man. His little daughter (Shimada Runa) is killed and his wife (Fan Bingbing) abandons him in disgust. Seeking refuge at Shaolin Temple, Hou is at first viewed with mistrust but under the guidance of the Abbot (Yue Hoi), his fellow monks and especially a kind-hearted cook with closet kung fu skills, gradually repents his evil ways, becomes a devout Buddhist and masters the art of Shaolin kung fu. Which proves handy when the monks discover Tsao Man is up to no good.

Most martial arts movies about Shaolin Temple revolve around its historical destruction at the hands of the Manchus, whether it’s the stoic superheroism of the Shaw Brothers’ Shaolin Temple (1976) or the schlockier antics in Ninja Hunter (1984). However, this lavish 2011 film, which is supposedly a remake or re-imagining of the 1982 Mainland Chinese film Shaolin Temple that launched Jet Li to screen stardom, caused mild controversy since it centres around a largely fictitious conflict. A huge hit across Chinese speaking territories, Shaolin is a grandiose effort. Sweeping camerawork, sumptuous sets and scenery combine to disguise the somewhat simplistic nature of the story. It is a fairly standard tale of karmic retribution - bad man finds enlightenment - lacking the moral complexity of earlier Shaolin fables like 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) and Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984).

To his credit, director Benny Chan - whose past work includes co-directing Who Am I? (1998) and the underrated The Magic Crane (1994) - does a fair job balancing both the martial and meditative elements and pulls off some genuinely profound moments throughout the ultimately affecting story. Chan stages the set-pieces with great flair, be they epic battles, rousing stunts or frenetic fights choreographed by the great Corey Yuen Kwai, former Shaw Brothers actor-choreographer Yuen Tak and the lesser known Li Chung Li, although the stately, solemn pace so common amongst big budget co-productions like this, lacks the vibrant, visceral edge of early Hong Kong fare. The film courts the patriotism of contemporary Chinese viewers with a subplot revealing Tsao Man is allowing the British (although the script diplomatically refers to them as simply: “foreigners”) to unearth Chinese relics in return for guns and ammunition. The dastardly Brits turn the tables on everyone during the spectacular climactic siege of Shaolin Temple, but the finale gets back to the core message of forgiveness and rebirth concluding with a powerful image that does convey the true spirit of Buddhism.

For such a seemingly remorseless and hard-bitten warlord, General Hou certainly embraces the tenets of Buddhism quickly and easily. Fortunately, a typically charismatic Andy Lau lends this hastily enacted character arc some gravitas and proves his martial arts skills have not dimmed with age. Co-star Nicholas Tse, an oft-underrated actor able to segue seamlessly from heartthrob hero to heartless villain, delivers sterling support. Elsewhere, each of the Shaolin monks have vivid, likeable personalities and are played by a fine array of actors, including the terrific Jacky Wu Jing (who has one of the most affecting scenes) and talented rising stars Yu Shao-Qun and Xing Yu. Of course the big, scene-stealing role belongs to a certain Jackie Chan, who plays the temple cook whose humble facade hides wells of wisdom. He becomes Hou’s staunchest ally and mentor and, though he feigns ignorance in martial arts, bursts into the film’s big crowd-pleasing moment when he and a gang of child monks kick the crap out of a squad of soldiers - wielding a giant wok. One expects great things in the future from young Mr. Chan, this plucky newcomer has the right stuff.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1821 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: