Posted on July 5th, 2009 in Brick Prior, Movies, SHAW-A-DAY-A-THON by Brick Prior

Welcome to Day 5, people.  Show of hands- who’s been here since the beginning?  I have, I have! Who’s going to stick around until the end?!  Me!  Me!  Join me in my quest for enlightenment though viewing Shaw Brothers cinema!

THE OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS

“A young man on a mission of vengeance trains at Shaolin Temple to become a kung fu master, evolving into the legendary monk San Te (Gordon Liu), who introduces Shaolin kung fu to oppressed Chinese.”

THE TRAILER

 

THIS IS WHAT I THOUGHT HAPPENED SINCE I HAD TO READ SUBTITLES AND WATCH ACTION AT THE SAME TIME, HAR HAR HAR

I dig this movie a lot, generally due to the fact that the training sequences in it will never, ever be topped… and yes, that includes you, Rocky IV.  It’s subtle in the fact that there’s not a whole lot of focus on the actual fights for the majority of the run time- what starts out as a typical revenge story (man’s family murdered, gets trained in kung-fu, gets revenge) actually turns into a story about discipline and enlightenment.  This film is a huge 180 from what goes on in a film we’ll see later, “Eight Diagram Pole Fighter” as that movie almost has the same basic plot, but the main character is uncompromising in his goals for revenge, pretty much becoming a bastardized version of the monk we see in this film. 

More on that one later, as I’m supposed to be talking about “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin”.

So!

Here’s a quick “recap” of the film! 

 

First off, never start a rebellion at school- all your friends die and you’re shit out of luck when it comes to getting some backup for some much needed revenge. Sure, it might seem like a good idea to get some training at the Shaolin Temple, but not when you start falling into random waterways and they make you carry buckets of water up steep walkways with knives strapped to your arms (hint: if your arms drop, you lose a kidney).  What’s up with that?  Learning through subtle ways of torture?  Sorry partner, that’s not my bag!  And no, I won’t be headbutting sandbags either!  Don’t you know that concussions stick with you FOR-EH-VER?!  HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO LEARN IF I CAN’T USE MY BRAIN, MAN?!

All that happens in this film… and all because a poor guy wants to know kung-fu.

Eventually, they let him do some training with actual weapons, and one of the highlights of the film (besides people headbutting sandbags on purpose, I will never understand that shit) is the invention of the tri-sectioned-staff.  Background check: one of the Snake-Eyes action figure I had came with a three-sectioned-staff, so imagine my surprise some 20 years later when I buy this movie… and I figure out where Snake-Eyes got all his cool stuff from.

When I grow up, I still want to be a ninja that gets his weapons from the Shaolin Temple.

Anyway…

There’s a big fight between San-te (Gordon Liu aka OL’ BALDHEAD aka Mr. Crazy 88 aka Death Touch aka Mistah Fisto aka Don Juan De Struction) using his tri-sectioned-staff and a monk wielding butterfly knives, and it’s the staff that comes out on top.  After his victory, San-te has completed all thirty-five chambers of the Shaolin temple, and requests to train people in kung-fu.  Naturally, he is DENIED and BALEETED from the temple records, aka exiled.  Back in the world again, he finds out that more members of the rebellion have died, and heads off to pay his respects. He ends up walking right into a fight, and uses his new skills for some supreme ass-kicking, culminating in his use of SIGHT BEYOND SIGHT to avoid some knives.  He even turns a blind eye to a man getting hacked up, which is awesome.  The incident is what causes San-te to start training folks in martial arts, even as forces close in around him.  The film’s next big action sequence comes when San-te goes to confront the general and… well, beats the shit out of everyone.  It’s a thing to behold, even as one of the vassals gets a stomach full of spears due to a well-timed duck by San-te.  The monk continues to learn about the world he left behind as he also finishes the rebellion’s work in the process- in some aspects, this is where the “revenge” plot kicks back in, but it doesn’t feel forced at all, but more along the lines of “well, this is the natural order of things, so this is all happening the way it should”.  There’s an odd sort of calm to all the violence, which makes sense since it’s a monk doing the asskicking. 

We get to our final fight sequence as the general decides to head out, but his forces are decimated by tons and tons of rice in a huge set-up.   Seriously- rice comes down from every whichaway and takes out half the people, so he goes off to face San-te alone.  This is the definition of a one-sided fight as it’s the General’s two butterfly swords against San-te’s tri-sectioned staff, and San-te picks him apart, disarming him and then finishing him off with a couple of super-powered headbutts.

I guess headbutting all those sandbags did some good after all. 

The movie ends with San-te training all of his disciples, because in the end, that’s the 36th chamber of Shaolin- spreading the teachings of the temple to everyone.

Pretty neat, huh?

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS MOVIE

My adulation for this movie knows no bounds.  I absolutely love it.  Here’s some a video of some of the training sequences:

 

 

Absolutely fun stuff.  This is what dreams of asswhuppery are made of, I swear to God. 

Picture time!

 

THIS MONK IS TRAPPED IN THE BEYOND WITH DICKIE THE DOG

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HARDCORE TRAINING

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I WASN’T LYING ABOUT THE GODDAMN SANDBAGS

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TOMORROW

I talked about it today, so tomorrow will be “Eight Diagram Pole Fighter”.  The secret word for tomorrow is… “bleak”.  It’s not a nice movie.  See you there!