War of the Shaolin Temple

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (77 votes, average: 3.95 out of 5)
Posted On: June 19, 2009
Posted In: Action Movies, All Movies, Kung Fu Fighting, Kung Fu Movie Reviews, Kung Fu Movies, Martial Arts Movies, Shaolin Kung Fu
Comments: 3 Responses

War of the Shaolin Temple is among the many Kung Fu Movies about the Shaolin temple made in Hong Kong and Taiwan during the golden age of Kung Fu Cinema. It seems that after Lau Kar-Leung’s fantastic 36th Chamber of Shaolin everybody just threw up their hands and decided that the concept couldn’t be done any better. Thus, there are scads of second tier, bland, useless movies involving Shaolin monks, with only a few that really try to push the subject beyond training, fighting, and taking revenge.

War of the Shaolin Temple is the exception. Its story is based on historical events, specifically the Sung dynasty’s conflict with the invading Jins. An army seeks to reclaim the northern lands from the occupying forces but is defeated. One of the soldiers (played by Cheng Tien-Chi) escapes to Shaolin, where he trains and tries to convince the other monks to get involved. His efforts are thwarted by the temple’s abbot, who has no desire to get involved in the conflict.

Out of frustration, Cheng Tien-Chi goes to train with a drunken style Kung Fu master who is outside of the abbot’s jurisdiction. At the same time, the Jin commander is moving into the area, and suspects the Shaolin temple of giving sanctuary to the soldiers who they’re pursuing. This eventually culminates in the Abbot deciding to let the monks fight and a massive fight scene ensues.

The thing that elevates this movie from the norm is the superb fight choreography, which is a step above usual thanks to the level of the performers involved. The acrobatics and weapons handling are top notch. There’s a few subtle points of wire work, and a couple of fights at the end which are on a larger scale than most independent Taiwanese productions. Overall this under-rated little gem is worth watching for the strength of its Kung Fu choreography. Thomas DiSanto