HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Alone
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
Shaolin vs. Wu Tang
Fatman
Butt Boy
Dog of Flanders, The
Bushido Blade, The
Jiu Jitsu
Blind
   
 
Newest Articles
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
Rose: A Love Story - Producers April Kelley and Sara Huxley Interview
   
 
  Shaolin vs. Wu Tang They may be expelled, but they're still the best!
Year: 1983
Director: Gordon Liu
Stars: Gordon Liu, Adam Cheng, Ching Li, Ida Chan Yuk-Lin, Johnny Wang Lung-Wei, Kwan Hoi-San, Wong Ching-Ho, Cheng Miu, Chan Shen, Lee Hoi-Sang, Elvis Tsui, Lam Hak-Ming, Keung Hon, Lee Pang-Fei
Genre: Action, Martial Arts, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Shaolin kung fu student Chun Kit (Gordon Liu) and Wu Tang apprentice swordsman Fung Wu (Adam Cheng) are buddies. Even though their masters are fierce rivals who insist neither school can learn anything from the other. Yet the Manchu Prince (Johnny Wang Lung-Wei) fears both schools' formidable skills could threaten his absolute rule. So he invites Fung Wu's master to a 'friendly' game of chess, poisons the old man then offers the antidote in exchange for the secrets of the Wu Tang sword style. Instead the master tricks Fung Wu into killing him. Whereupon the Prince throws Fung Wu in jail and starts spreading rumours that those dastardly Shaolin monks were behind the murder. Chun Kit and his kid sister Yan Ling (Ida Chan Yuk-Lin), who has a crush on Fung Wu, hatch an ingenious scheme to spring him out of jail. Yet this only ignites a string of misadventures and misunderstandings that pit friend against friend. Unless Chun Kit and Fung Wu can figure out some way to combine Shaolin shadow boxing with the Wu Tang sword style to take out their true enemy.

36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) cemented Gordon Liu as the definitive screen incarnation of the heroic Shaolin monk. Similarly Adam Cheng was widely perceived as the archetypal wu xia ("swordplay film") hero thanks to a run of high-profile television serials and films like The Sword (1980), Night Orchid (1982) and especially Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983). Thus Shaolin vs. Wu Tang came about, the second of Liu's two outings as actor-director following Breakout from Oppression (1978), as sort of a two-great-tastes-taste-great-together kind of deal. Here two icons of their respective martial arts movie sub-genres come together for an epic clash with an underlining philosophical message. Despite minor flaws the film remains an enduring favourite among genre fans. Among them hip-hop legend the RZA who famously used audio samples from the English dub in the Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). One such noteworthy line ("I may have been expelled but I’m still the best! Wu Tang!!") caps off the near-legendary opening title sequence. It features what might best be described as a kung fu conga line of Shaolin monks showcasing a dazzling display of acrobatics and weapons mastery.

It is easy to see why Shaolin vs. Wu Tang appealed to a predominantly black urban audience overseas. Co-screenwriters Katy Chin Shu-Mei, wife of Shaw Brothers director Pao Hsueh-Li and author of among others The Lady Professional (1971) and Deadly Angels (1977), and Huang Pa-Ching (more active as a character actor although he also co-directed chopsocky fan favourite Prodigal Boxer (1972)) fashion a story wherein a ruling elite sow social divisions among two gifted minority groups in order to maintain their hegemony. Shaolin vs. Wu Tang chastens prejudice and cultural narrow-mindedness in Chinese society but could just as easily stand in for any other racial or cultural divide. Indeed the film makes a point of showing that Chun Kit and Fun Wu learn something from each other whenever they match skills in a friendly fight. The social commentary has much in common with the films of Gordon Liu's stepbrother and mentor Lau Kar-Leung, most notably Heroes of the East (1979). He served as action choreographer here. His touch is evident in the spectacular and visceral nature of the fight scenes but while some sources credit him as "executive director" this is very much Gordon Liu's film. Among the cool set-pieces: Fung Wu slowly losing his sanity in a prison full of crazy women; Chun Kit transferring supernatural kung fu skills to another character to help Wu escape; and the climactic three-way duel combining multiple kung fu styles with eye-and-mind-opening results. The film only stumbles in its midsection where Liu brazenly restages key sequences from 36th Chamber of Shaolin to generally inferior effect. Even re-casting the same actors in exactly the same roles.

Other than that Liu fashions a compelling, emotionally charged plot. One that draws forth an impassioned performance from Adam Cheng as his character moves from debonair ladies' man to shell-shocked prison inmate and finally righteous avenger. Liu himself, very much the Donnie Yen of his day, had a much more limited range. Yet he tailors the film to his strengths. Wisely, he also introduces some feisty female characters as a counterpoint to the stoic machismo of the main plot. Adorable Ida Chan Yuk-Lin spars winningly with Adam Cheng, until the plot springs a surprisingly grim twist, and veteran Shaw Brothers actress Ching Li injects feminine grace as Fung Wu's enigmatic cellmate with a secret to hide. All the same it is the two leads that carry the film, etching an almost childlike friendship that, for a bone-crushing kung fu flick, is really rather sweet.


Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 218 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: