A pure old-school martial arts movie, beloved by aficionados, that also appeals to nonfans simply as a rousing action film. The often-imitated fact-based plot (see The Karate Kid) centers upon the rigorous training process undergone in the mid-19th century by the anti-Manchu Chinese patriot San Te (Gordon Liu). It's depicted as a grueling voyage into the unknown. Cast out of his home village when he stands up to the cruel warlord (Lo Lieh) who slaughtered his parents, the refugee seeks out the martial monks of the Shaolin Temple, who steer him through a torturous series of "chambers"--horrendous ordeals designed to build strength and agility--before he's even allowed to study boxing or swordfighting. Finally he defeats a rival by inventing a brand-new weapon, the three-section chain-linked staff. But innovation can be carried only so far; when San Te suggests opening a "36th chamber" in the temple that would teach Shaolin techniques to the populace at large (so that they can fight the nasty Manchus) he is drummed out of the corps. Naturally he returns to his home village, slaughters the baddies, and prepares to open China's first public Shaolin-style kung fu school. Many of the pupils San Te recruits in the final reel became legendary martial artists in their own right, the "Fathers of the Church" of the Chinese kung fu tradition. This is strong action entertainment with real historical resonance. --David Chute
Spotlight customer reviews:
Customer Rating: Summary: An Essential Martial Arts Film! Comment: Anyone that is a fan of martial arts needs to see this film! The film is put together very nicely, and the picture looks great. The story is very good. A students seeks vengeance on the government that killed his friends and family, and seeks out the Shaolin temple. A place where monks only get the opportunity to learn kung fu, they reject him at first but eventually accept him. The intense training of the 35 chambers is shown greatly is one of the best parts of the movie. After his training is complete, he gets the choice of being overseer of one of the 35 chambers but chooses to create his own, the 36th chamber where he wants have the ability to give any man the chance to learn kung fu whether they are a monk or not. See the film to see if he completes this timeless story! Time to go get the other Shaw Brothers films! Customer Rating: Summary: A classic but not as good as I remember Comment: A classic, no doubt. I get the whole Shoalin proving ground stuff but I could have used more fight sequences. Three sectional staff scene is unbelievable though. Digital transfer is excellent! Customer Rating: Summary: SUPERB!!! Comment: This is one of the best Martial arts movies ever to come from the Shaw Brothers. Its storyline and dialogue are creative and highly enteraining. The quality of the DVD is tops - with the choces of watching in English, or Cantonese or Mandarian with or without subtitles - so I can get the best of the actor's performance. Customer Rating: Summary: Just as I remembered it! Comment: When I was a Kung Fu student...Ok...a *practicing* Kung Fu student, my teacher would occasionally show us some videos. Not for their entertainment value, but to illustrate certain points. We'd see the protagonist execute some fantastic move, then we'd move outside to replicate it. More often that not, we'd fail. But that was the point...He needed to impress upon us the fact that most movie martial arts were bogus. He didn't want us to end up in a real life situation and try to "Chuck Norris" somebody and get ourselves hurt.
In the case of this video, he wanted to show us what real life training and practice could do, but with a "Aren't you glad you don't have to train like *that*?" attitude.
This remains my favorite Kung Fu movie of all time. If you're a martial artist or just a martial arts fan, this title needs to be in your library. Customer Rating: Summary: Great Classic Comment: Another must have for the Kung Fu movie collector. I recently decided to start my own collection and this was another one of my first choices. The story is great and the moves incredible. I enjoyed the training parts Gordon Liu had to go thru in the Shaolin Temple. Gordon Liu plays one determined character seeking revenge on the Manchu invaders who take over and kill defenseless villagers. You don't want to pass this up, add it to your library if you don't already have it.