# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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Shaolin Ex Monk (1978) Directed by: Cheung San-Yee

Quite disgustingly transparent with its intentions, part of Shaolin Ex Monk is a gloriously failed Jackie Chan imitator starring Blacky Ko (who was never a good kung fu comedy lead. Would work better in gangster roles) with light shenanigans set to Warner Brothers cartoon music and none of it works. When bringing in other familiarity such as when John Liu's character trains's Blacky, Shaolin Ex Monk starts to click as Liu brings charisma and trademark kicking to the picture. Traditional action therefore comes alive but it's the more wire enhanced aspects that entertains more as Liu's characters begins unveiling a mystery surrounding a masked ninja and several murders. It's not a plot we keep up with but overall Shaolin Ex Monk has its share of eye brow raising moments and truthfully, it's almost all due to Liu's solid presence regardless of what he's doing. Also with Jack Long.

Shaolin Hand Lock (1978) Directed by: Hoh Mung-Wa

All involved in this Shaw Brother's production (including action director Tong Gaai) punches in as usual but does deliver fair competence considering the common plot framework. David Chiang is Cheng Ying who is taught the titular technique fully but has his family murdered by Fang Yu Biao (Chan Shen) shortly after his final training has concluded. Yu Biao was hired by wealthy smuggler Lin Hao (Lo Lieh) and Cheng Ying goes to Thailand to execute a revenge plot. It starts by stealing Lin Hao's gold in order to prove his worth and get close to him as only bodyguards can...

Therefore seemingly lensed in Thailand partly, the setting is more modern as we get the sights of trains and the action direction contains motor bike stunts for one scene. Director Hoh Mung-Wa (The Mighty Peking Man) does roll full steam ahead concerning his revenge plot but stopping at the very last second is a choice that generates more of a curious narrative when we see Cheng Ying manipulate his surroundings to believe other ones but him are after Lin Hao. Michael Chan co-stars while Kara Hui and Dick Wei briefly appear.

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The Shaolin Heroes (1980) Directed by: Wu Ma

Marshal Wong Fei (Ti Lung) rounds up Ming rebels and Shaolin brothers for the Ching dynasty and proceeds to torture and train them for possible use in the Ching army. Wong Fei is suspected to be working undercover however...

With sets looking suspiciously like being on loan from Shaw Brothers, Wu Ma has also gathered up cast and crew worthy of an entry in the Shaw Brothers catalogue. This means a great deal of talent, a great deal of talent put to good use and I Kuang's script is straight faced and very sharp, complemented by very present actors such as Ti Lung and Michael Chan (looking incredibly well immersed in this period movie in particular). The mystery isn't great but Wu Ma keeps interest because The Shaolin Heroes doesn't echo templates. Much is supposed to be heartbreaking and again while no great shakes in terms of its twists, competence keeps Wu Ma's vision very much alive. Especially when the movie is so well costumed and the sets are magnificent. With Dorian Tan, Wong Chung, Danny Lee, Wong Ching, Wu Ma and Shih Szu. Action directed by Robert Tai and the movie is also known as simply The Heroes.

The Shaolin Invincibles (1977) Directed by: Hou Cheng

Deadly serious period matters here, dealing with a tyrant king, tragedy, martial arts training at the Shaolin temple and an adulthood path of revenge for two sisters (Doris Lung & Chia Ling). Well costumed, low-budget Taiwanese yaaaaaawn had it not been for the bright and now legendary idea of spicing up the deadly serious with Chen Hung-Lieh's king having gorillas as bodyguards. Obviously stuntmen in suits, they only have one weak spot, know kung-fu and director Hou Cheng clearly is inspired whenever occupied with these sections. The energy is up, the FUN is increased considerably as no one is in it for the drama. The extensive kung fu scene between the ladies and the gorillas is wonderful, fast paced and really the final 20 minutes is a fireworks display of an odd idea gone very right. Jack Long appears briefly as a surprise fighter sporting a HUGE eye, Dorian Tan appears late in an forgettable role and Carter Wong fights two wizards (one being Blacky Ko) with long tongues. Reefer madness but fun for all.

The Shaolin Kids (1977) Directed by: Joseph Kuo

Armed with a huge cast and sets, Joseph Kuo intimidates with the English title of the film as kids and kung-fu normally don't mix well (hello Kids From Shaolin!). Even though it barely touches upon Shaolin or any kids, the film manages to be largely unbearable despite. Essentially a 306+ character gallery conveying a bloody power struggle between the Ming and Ching dynasties, it sounds simple but is muddled beyond belief. Only the bursts of weapons-action entertain and especially the extensive, quite ferocious assault during the ending ranks as classic Kuo imagery put on screen. Starring Polly Kuan, Tien Peng and Carter Wong. God only knows who they were in the movie and what they were doing...

Shaolin Kung-Fu Mystagogue (1975) Directed by: Chang Paang-Yee

KENNETH'S REVIEW: Possessing the genre trademarks including a Ming rebels vs. Ching rulers plot, here's a standard kung-fu vehicle that will make for a fine evening's viewing. With Carter Wong and Hsu Feng fighting against their opponents that includes a badass Chang Yi and his weapon of choice The Bloody Bird, you early on realize Shaolin Kung Fu Mystagogue sparks when it's about fun with gadgets. Best sequences does indeed use weaponry such as Chang Yi's that acts as a boomerang, cuts down trees and various other Wuxia techniques is crudely but wildly fun orchestration by the filmmaking team. With Buddhist monk's mentioning that the ultimate form is not for everyone, you betcha it's a desired skill in this universe that will appear at a climactic point plus finally, you get a pair of delightful rooms of traps-sequences. All looking as creative as can be coming from this cinema as well as fake and there's nothing wrong with that. Sit back and kick back, it's a feeling this widespread viewer and reviewer not often feels like doing. Mang Fei, Suen Yuet and Phillip Ko also stars.

Shaolin Mantis (1978) Directed by: Lau Kar Leung

Lau Kar Leung gets into a little trouble with his narrative for this one but expectedly comes out on top thanks to first rate hand to hand- and weapon's action.

Unexpectedly however, the lead character Wai Fung (David Chiang) is a member of The Ching Dynasty, normally characters that are the villains of kung-fu movies. With that, Lau also brings forth themes of loyalty and Chinese family values but gets off to a shaky start in the plot-crucial portrayal of the Gi Gi (Wong Hang-Sau). We see her taking on Chiang's Wai Fung as her new teacher but we unfortunately are stuck with a brat of a student, whose subsequent love for Wai fails to make much sense because of that characteristic. Nor does Wai's personal revenge towards the family he's infiltrated and what could've been an interesting tale of divided loyalties, merely becomes an martial arts action-fest.

Fortunately a good one at that as the various bouts between Chiang, Norman Tsui, Wilson Tong and Lau Kar Wing are staged with the dependent skill that you would come to expect from Lau Kar Leung. If there's one complaint about this aspect, it is that a sense of sluggishness sets in, particular during some of the moments where Lily Li and Wong Hang-Sau are featured fighters. Not surprisingly though, as both actresses were not trained martial artists and Lau should therefore on the other hand be applauded for making them look as good as they do. Today, the action directors hide abilities in much more annoying ways...

Considering the quite extraordinary list of credentials Lau Kar Leung has worked up over the years, he surely is allowed to have a lesser movie in there but Shaolin Mantis still comes recommended despite a far fetched narrative. Gordon Lau and Lee Hoi-Sang appear briefly at the beginning as challengers of Wai Fung.

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Shaolin Popey 1994) Directed by: Chu Yen-Ping

image stolen from Hong Kong Digital

Chu Yen-Ping managed to find a fairly long lasting, commercial element in this flick. Or rather two. Or rather two kids. Yes, little Kok Siu-Man and Sik Siu-Lung formed a kung fu-comedy team of wacky and stern/buttkicking respectively. They were later put to use in the semi-sequel as well as in China Dragon and Super Mischieves. Under Chu's very commercial direction, it's mainly Kok's show along with Taiwanese heartthrob and ten times less talented Aaron Kwok wannabee of the era Jimmy Lin that take center stage in what definitely is kid's entertainment but a movie that corresponds ever so slightly to director Chu's old habit of caring for absurd, illogical details.

Basically patented after the dopey high school American comedy formula, the beginning is an unwarranted MV for the great lead Jimmy Lin, showing how great Jimmy Lin is. Even signs of being Taiwan's Tom Cruise of Cocktail fame are evident but when the actual story starts, director Chu's structure is very clear. Lin's Spinach character wants Vivian Hsu's Annie. Annie dates the school bully. Pearl (Hilary Tsui) helps Spinach who will come to realize during the last scene who he loves. Starting over at least twice with the high school comedy structure that begins with pranks at home and ends with family dinner, Chu is resting comfortably. Although he goes daring places for the designed entertainment that it is by creating a locker room sequence for the voluptuous Vivian Hsu (who began making Category III pictures the year after), the marginal delight Shaolin Popey is represented by a few key tangents. One is a variant of the Street Fighter scene in City Hunter and later our main characters take refuge in the Shaolin Temple. The seemingly real world is now part of the Wuxia universe, comedy is punctuated by cartoon sounds and the flick briefly turns into Home Alone by the end. It's easily digestible, thoroughly silly and a far cry from well-honed in the wirework department. But considering, Chu Yen-Ping doesn't embarrass himself as such. Compare with his army training flicks such as Forever Friends, starring an even more annoying Jimmy Lin, and you'll see the gigantic difference. Kingdom Yuen, Michael Lee and Paul Chun also appear.

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Shaolin Popey II - Messy Temple (1994) Directed by: Chu Yen-Ping

image stolen from Hong Kong Digital

For the at most mildly related sequel, there's no build-up towards the Shaolin in Shaolin Popey. The kids Kok Siu-Man and Sik Siu-Lung are already there in the Shaolin temple, under the guidance of Michael Lee's abbott but mostly they're taken on various shenanigans with Ng Man-Tat's Senior. Feeling very Hong Kong, Taiwan's Chu Yen-Ping knows he doesn't have to show any interest in structure and wit. Alongside the mild story of The Evil Sect assassin Yellow Lemmon (Dicky Cheung in truly horrid super-villain gear) failing at most of his attempts, the trio of Kok, Sik and Ng mostly wander to and from one silly skit to the next. See them for instance learn the fart stance and do heavy duty stunt work in all manner of films films for support of their eating habits. All for an almost unbearable amount of reels. Thankfully Chu gets other ideas and remembers cartoonish craziness of his past.

Starting with Adam Cheng in a cameo as himself and various parodies of the martial arts genre such as torturous stances from Drunken Master and an appearance by another group of Amazon fighters from Armour of God, Chu is clearly allowed to show his care for absurd detail. Difference this time, most of what we see are parodies and not shameless theft. Now that IS a shame, despite we getting glimpses into Chu's manic mind. The 18 Bronzemen stops by, climactic techniques from Butterfly & Sword pop up but topping it off and taking Shaolin Popey II - Messy Temple into sporadically likeable territory is the sight of Sik Siu-Lung being fed breast milk by Kingdom Yuen in order to utilize his kid drunken boxing! Michelle Yeoh has a very minor cameo while Yuen Wah and Mark Houghton also stop by.

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Shaolin Prince (1982) Directed by: Tong Gaai

After choreographing action since the 1960s (often with Lau Kar Leung under the direction of Chang Cheh), finally Tong Gaai sat himself down in the directing chair and gave us Shaolin Prince. He logged three movies quite quickly between 1982 and 1983 in that capacity but that was it for all of his movie activities at Shaw Brother's.

Shaolin Prince raises some interesting points about the official heads of powers being mere puppets but those of you looking for a strong narrative in combination with action should look elsewhere. It's just a simple template for what will become a fast paced 90 minutes of terrific martial arts action. Sharing action directing duties with Yuen Wah, Yuen Bun and Wong Pau Kei (which was probably a necessity due to his workload as director already), Tong's imaginative mind with weapons is given a great showcase. If a Q branch would be set up in Hong Kong, you'd really have to enlist Tong Gaai. The fluidity is exemplary and even the somewhat crude wirework is turned into something original during certain set pieces. With the Shaw Brother's sets as backdrops as well, there's much to be entertained by.

When venturing into comedy territory in an otherwise stoic atmosphere, the film threatens to derail but Tong does manage to make the main comedic element, the three Shaolin monks that trains Ti Lung's character, a delightful and endearing element. One can't help to think though that a role reversal of Derek Yee's and Ti Lung's characters would've have benefited because the latter certainly didn't look like he was in his early 20s as the script dictates. Minor niggles really in what isn't supposed to be a dramatic Chang Cheh offering but rather a full on martial arts actioner. Shaolin Prince thoroughly delivers. Also with Ku Feng, Jason Pai Po, Chan Shen, Lee Hoi Sang and Elvis Tsui makes a shortlived appearance as a Shaolin monk.

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