Executioners From Shaolin

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Posted In: Action Movies, All Movies, Kung Fu Movie Reviews, Kung Fu Movies, Martial Arts Movies, Shaolin Kung Fu, Shaolin Temple, Shaw Brothers
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This is one amazing Kung Fu classic, compliments of Shaw Brothers Studios circa 1977. Even more incredible is that this film is directed by none other than the venerable Lar Kar-Leung, the same director who brought you the “36th Chamber of Shaolin”. This is a very unusual entry into Shaw Brother’s Shaolin Temple series, introduced by the great Chang Cheh, marked by the inclusion of a strong, complex female role played by Lily Li.

Lily Li’s character “Fang Yung” proves to be a formidable match for her future husband from her very first scenes as a traveling street entertainer who defends her turf in a duel with the famous Shaolin fighter ‘Hung Sze Kuan’ (played by Kuan Tai Chen). She marries him, but keeps him at bay in an entertaining wedding night sequence showcasing her martial arts prowess.

“Hung Sze Kuan” is a vengeance obsessed Shaolin monk who has survived a temple massacre orchestrated by evil Abbot Pai Mei (“White Brows” played by the awesome Lieh Lo). Kuan and his men only manage to escape the ambush because one of his friends, Brother Tong, sacrifices himself to give them all time to escape.

Executioners From Shaolin - Kung Fu MoviesUnfortunately, history is destined to repeat itself when Kuan decides to challenges Pai Mei a second time; even though he is clearly no match for him. Sadly, he has rejected the wise advice of his wife who tries to convince him to learn her crane-style Kung Fu, which would have at least given him a chance against the seemingly invincible Pai Mei.

When Hong returns to fight White Brows a second time, there is a sense of inevitability. The son fights to stop his father, who dissuades him with empty rhetoric and then goes to his death. Thankfully, Kuan’s son has mastered the crane-style taught to him by his mother and need only become proficient in the Tiger style to challenge Pai Mei.

This movie casts a strong message and is unusual in the sense that it is rooted in s strong family unit that is torn apart by a paternal figure who is bound by honor and unable to change his ways.

This is an incredible entry into the golden years at Shaw Studios, which encapsulates a wonderful mix of combat and training sequences, a touch of romance, a pinch of humor and well structured plot to weave all of these great ingredients together. You will love this film. Thomas DiSanto


 

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