"I am admittedly an addict of kung fu films. Ever since I was 10 and saw Enter the Dragon, I have watched literally hundreds of kung fu movies, practiced various styles and read the Toa Te Ching. I love all Chinese martial arts films from plotless two dollar chop sockey flicks of the 70's to modern day crime saga's to swordsman fantasies with sexy ghosts, hopping vampires and enchanted swords.Shaolin temple and it's warrior monks are revered by movie goers and film makers, to the same extent they are admired by martial arts students the world over, so naturally shaolin and it's monks are featured as agents of virtue fighting for good in almost half the kung fu films out there. But no other film is as historicly significant and few are as visually spectacular as this one.Firstly Shaolin Temple was the first martial arts film made in communist mainland China. Funded by the Chinese government in the early 80's to cash in on the kung fu film market in Hong Kong's success. One should consider the significance of this alone since religion of any kind was pretty much forbiden by the government of China, yet this film was made with quite a lot of Buhddist phylosophy and ceromony featured.Secondly this was the debut film of Jet Li, who has since became the 3rd biggest star in martial arts film history (Bruce Lee #1, Jackie Chan #2) and his star continues to rise today. At the time Jet Li was the national Wu Shu champion of China. His performance in this film so amazing that after it screened in China, people walked great distances to see Jet Li at his home village, some days the line of people outsides of his house stretched for miles! No BS.Also along side Li, the cast was made up of many other Wu Shu champions, unfourtunatly Li and all actors in the cast were paid about the equivelent of $0.20 a day, which is the same rate factory workers were paid! A few members of the cast are also real shaolin monks.Another amazing feature of this film is that many of the scenes were filmed in the real shaolin temple. The temple itself is as stunning as most ancient Chinese structures, but there is something truely special when scenes are filmed in the forest of Pagodas, where the most respected monks are buried and also the hall with the holes in the floor is a true training hall in Shaolin and the holes in the stone floor have actually being worn down by centuries of practice. Something about the reality just astounds you in a way that mere cinematic specials effects never will.If that is not enough, Shaolin Temple features some of the most lengthy and exciting, action packed and dazzling, skillfull and well executed fight scenes ever caught on film. The scenes feature plenty of different fighting styles and some of the more exotic Chinese weaponary, not usually seen in action on film. There is a great piece too where Jet Li peeks over a fence to watch monks practice, once again the REALITY (of their skill) is more stunning than any explosions or laughably phony CGI.Shaolin Temple is a true classic of the kung fu genre and landmark film for many reasons. Ever since this film hit the screens, the Shaolin temple in China has received renewed fame and people the world over have flocked to the real temple in the hopes of learning from the monks. Hundreds of schools, a few are run by actual monks, have set up all around the actual temple. The power of the film Shaolin Temple has inspired countless people East and West and I am sure that it will continue to inspire."
The Standard Bearer
Taijiguy | Kangzhou, Meiguo | 07/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Shaolin Temple was the first Chinese martial arts film to use real gongfu practitioners as actors (Bruce Lee's films are exempt because he did not use Chinese gongfu in his films; his style, which died with him, was primarily western martial arts with Asian kicking). These actors were the best martial artists in China. The film was funded by Japanese investors and took about two years to film due to the injuries the cast received doing their own stunts (the contact was real). According to the credits, Pan Qingfu choreographed the film. This is not so. All the actors choreographed their own parts. It is also not true that Jet Li was the reigning Chinese National Versatile Champion at the time this film was made (although he did hold the title for five years). That honor goes to Hu Jianqiang, who played the leader of the young monks. He is one of the few masters of both Northern and Southern styles, and Jet Li's friend and senior. This film is leaps and bounds above the earlier Hong Kong films."
Jet Li's first movie rocks!!
Roule Duke | 01/15/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Shortly after he became national all-around Wu Shu champion of China, Jet Li, at the age of, like, 19, made this kick-butt movie. Okay, the plot has been seen before: young martial artist goes to the Shaolin temple to train so he can take revenge on the murderer of his father. But the film goes a little deeper, since the hero cools down, learns humility and instead of getting the girl, becomes a monk. Good character development as Li wobbles between humility and burning desire for revenge. As flamboyant and action packed as Jackie Chan's movies are, Jet Li's, on the other hand, are just outstanding martial arts skill. Watch this movie for excellent examples of the martial artists being produced by the wu shu training camps in mainland China - broadswords, whip chains, three-sectional staff work, rope darts, killer long staff forms and combat, and awesome open-handed forms and combat. A real martial artists' movie."
OK movie, but video transfer is pretty bad
Taijiguy | 09/17/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A must-see for Jet Li fans, but I wish this had been subtitled, rather than dubbed in English. The film is not letterboxed.The inclusion of the original theatrical trailer is a nice touch, but parts of the video transfer, especially low-light scenes such as the drunken pole/sword fight, are so low-contrast that it's difficult to see the action at times. The dubbing isn't terrible, but the translation takes a few liberties with the story line, such as disguising the fact that the animal he's roasting is his girlfriend's dog! The musical numbers, at least, have been kept from the original."
Jet Li in Full Effect
kurlebj | Hackettstown, New Jersey United States | 04/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Shaolin Temple in a fantastic movie. The fight scenes in this movie are so good, you will not be able to take your eyes off the screen. Plus: the movie depicts the "drunken pole" style which is outrageous. Jet Li plays this mischiveous character that wants to be a monk to learn kung fu for what else...revenge! Even though this type of plot line has been seen before, the movie takes on a life of its own when the monks get in on the action. This is a "can't miss" for all fans of this genre and especially for fans of Jet.Also, this dvd allows you to watch the movie in dubbed english or the original language."