Monks' moldy methods meet more modern Mandarin mayhem
Mantis Lake | Detroit, MI USA | 10/20/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Now potential buyers should be warned that the first 20 minutes of this film will have raised your eyebrows all the way up to the North Pole. I had absolutely no idea what was going on. The lead character is only glimpsed in that time. My recommendation is to re-watch that first mysterious chunk after the film is completed, and that will help... some.
The basic story concerns a young monk named Chi Sing (Lau Jan Ling) and his master (Go Hung Ping), who are sent out on the Shaolin equivalent of a "vision quest". No food, no water, nothing. It seems that this pair are constantly at odds with the strict and antiquated rules of the temple, and as a result, are constantly being punished for their insubordination, Chi Sing specifically. In the name of defense and starvation, Chi Sing is forced to kill some crows, another mega-no-no. While making their way back to the temple, they encounter a village being attacked by the invading Jins (who ruled Northern China for most of the 12th century), and though he tries hard, Chi Sing can't take the slaughter and jumps in to help. Though he becomes a hero to the village and a group of rebels, he is determined to return to the temple and accept his punishment. To make matters worse, the Jins show up at the temple to look for the humble hero and start killing monks; until Chi Sing, his master, and some rebels intervene. Now hailed as a hero by the younger monks of the temple, the older abbots still wish to punish him severely. The rebels then free him from captivity and his secular temper eventually decides to help them.
If you start paying attention at the part where he and his master are being eaten by crows, you should be alright. I don't normally like to give too much plot away, but there's still a lot more to this film to see and enjoy, including bizarre animal attacks, and some awesome fights. The choreography in mainland Wushu films is quite different from Hong Kong films. Full of grace and form, they are a real joy to watch. Of course, the editing could have been a little better but...
As with all of Xenon's releases that I've seen, it's hard to say if it's really remastered or not. The widescreen presentation and good picture quality would indicate a strong "possibly". There are a couple of brief scenes where hardly anything can be distinguished, though it's not really a big deal. This is another case where I wish there was an option for subtitles (English language only). They might have helped clear up some of the confusion early on. Probably not though. Either way, it's a good story, with some original plot elements, emotionally-charged content, and good fights, though more would have been nice. Watch with a friend: It'll make for some interesting and speculative conversation. 3.5/5 and RECOMMENDED.
Special thanks to Morgoth for clarification. My apologies for the title.
Do not listen to stupidity! This movie is great!
SLAVE | citrus heights,ca | 02/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The movie should be looked at for it's stunning cinematography, not it's lack of kung fu action! There is only like maybe 4 kung fu scenes in the whole movie but the fights in this movie were great! There were some great stunts performed! The cinematography was great! I loved all the shaolin monks scenes and use of animals in this movie! And don't listen to these fools for saying this movie had a bad story! The story was great! Maybe it was the dialouge in the Xenon Group version that through off some cuz when these people dub stuff they usually change the dialouge and the story all together!! Anyways the story is about these 800 monks who live at peace until one of their kind got into some trouble, using his kung fu! Now the blame is on the Shaolin Temple and these evil soldiers will kill them! What will you do!?!
The copy I got was from Tai Seng video! It comes in it's original language with subs and the DVD plays how it's suppose to! No screw ups nothing!"