Heroes of Shaolin

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Posted In: Action Movies, All Movies, Kung Fu Fighting, Kung Fu Movie Reviews, Kung Fu Movies, Martial Arts Movies, Shaolin Kung Fu
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Martial Arts Movies

The Family honor must be avenged and the traitors must be ferreted out and destroyed. Chen Xing plays an aging fighter with traditional values who decides to train the son of a man he has shamed into committing suicide. The relationship between master and student thus becomes extremely complex and may surprise those familiar with simpler variants of these plot elements from countless other old school Kung Fu Movies.

The story also has a strong theme, concerning the difficulties of living as a righteous warrior in very unrighteous times. The decision to set the story on the eve of the Manchurian overthrow of the Ming dynasty adds an element of foreboding that enhances the tension of the film. Consequently the subplot concerning the discovery of traitors is given more weight than it would normally have in a Kung Fu film; and the issue is emphasized from a different perspective by the relationship between the master and student, since the master, almost accidentally, suggests that the student should be prepared to betray him in order to get revenge for his father’s death. Cool!

Chen Xing acted in a lot of old school Kung Fu films, from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. He was a true master of the Shaolin styles of Kung Fu, but also a very capable actor. Most Kung Fu film fans will best remember him as the villain of any number of historically-set Kung Fu films. Oddly enough, he actually began his career playing heroes and was first delegated to villain roles during a brief stay at Shaw Bros. working under master director Chang Cheh.

This film also represents early work from Corey Yuen (Yuen Kwei) of the Yuen Clan (Yuen Woo Ping, Simon Yuen, etc.) and Yuen Biao of the Lucky Stars troop (Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, etc.), as martial arts choreographers. The third choreographer is listed as “Tony Tu” which I suspect is a pseudonym for Ching Siu Tung. Director William Chang also gets credits for photography and for co-writing the screenplay. Chang later flowered as art-director and production designer on a lot of films of the “New Wave” 1980s.
This film has a great plot and is well acted. More importantly, the martial arts kicks ass! The Kung Fu action is pretty much non-stop and as good as it gets. Enjoy! Thomas DiSanto


One Response to “Heroes of Shaolin”

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