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4.4 out of 5 stars
Shaolin Mantis
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is one of the all time, all around, most realistically done martial arts films. A film about the origins of Mantis Fist kung fu. The fighting in this film is second to none. I have over five hundred of the classic martial arts films released from the 40s to the 1980s. This film is a testament to weapons interplay as well as Mantis Fist, hand to hand martial arts combat. David Chiang worked very hard in this film. Liu Chia Yung (Liu Chia Liang's real life brother and also directed this film) is the main rival. Liu Chia Hui (the liu's adopted brother Gordon Liu is in the beginning of this film as a Shaolin Monk). You have to see this film to know what quality martial arts cinema really is. The ending duels between the different weapons are intentionally paired, to show the viewer how these weapons have strengths and weakness' against one another. Some of the all time greatest hand to hand fighting as well.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2002
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Shaolin Mantis (bizarrely also titled Deadly Mantis in this 1983 print)is widely recognized as one of David Chiang Da Wei's best efforts at the Shaw studio, and deservedly so; it is one of the few not directed by perennial favourite Chang Cheh and therefore has far more character development, intricate sets and cinematography, and even numerous female characters; all features famously lacking from Cheh's beloved comic-book style. This is also one of the first and best movies to use the device of copying animals to create a fighting style and the painful training sequences that ensue. The synopsis can be found elsewhere, and I believe nearly any aficionado of these films would give it all five stars.
The one issue is the print quality: this "Platinum Collector's Edition" literally opens with video jitter, showing plainly that it was transferred from video (probably someone's home copy), not from film, and it is entirely "pan and scan," which makes it difficult to follow the action, and not only in the action scenes. That said, it should not prevent you buying it... it is regrettable, though, that in the age of DVDs, collectors and lovers of these films are still forced to content themselves with mediocre, "Black Belt Theatre"-type copies. Don't miss this one, by all means! But don't expect any extra features, and don't expect the print to be better than the one you taped at midnight a couple of years ago. NOTE: A HONG KONG COMPANY CALLED CELESTIAL IS REMASTERING AND RERELEASING THE ENTIRE SHAW FILM LIBRARY ON DVD! BEAUTIFUL LUSH PRINTS IN ORIGINAL LANGUAGES WITH DECENT SUBTITLES! IF YOU CAN GET YOUR HANDS ON THEM, GET THIS ONE! (note: you will need a region-free or all-region DVD player if you do not live in Asia!)
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2003
Format: DVD
This review if exclusivly on the DVD production and quality not the movie itself which I give a 3. First off, it's put out by Ground Zero Entertainment which is pretty much hit or miss as much of what they put out is duped from VHS and not film. This title, like most of their titles, are Pan & Scan which I really dislike. Half the action is cut out and the scans can get annoying. Although Ground Zero does put out a few titles like Shoulin Avengers which has great picture quality and is in widescreen format. Until Criterion gets a hold of these old school classics and gives them the treatment they deserve ( which is highly unlikely but who knows!?!!) look for titles put out by Crash Cinema and Celestial for good widscreen quality.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2011
Format: DVD
Man, where to start? This is one of the few Shaw Brothers classics that I had not previously owned or seen, even in bootleg form. I had heard mixed things about it so I tried to keep my expectations in check. A difficult task given the bizarre themes and esoteric behavior of most of the characters. While I try to judge old-school fu mostly on the fighting, I have a tendency to grow very annoyed if a story succeeds in pulling me in... only to let me down!

David Chiang ("Boxer From Shantung") plays Wei Feng, a scholar and martial arts student whose father is an influential guard for the Qing Emperor. The Emperor orders Wei Feng to infiltrate the Tian Clan and obtain a list of Ming loyalists to crush their potential uprising. If Wei Feng doesn't return in 3 months, his father will be stripped of his rank. At 6 months, the whole family gets imprisoned! 12 months? They will ALL be beheaded! No pressure there! He journeys to the Clan's Five Sun Manor and ends up being recruited by Zhizhi (Cecilia Wong, "Way of the Black Dragon"), the granddaughter of the Clan's patriarch (Lau Kar Wing, "Knockabout"), to be her scholarly teacher, as she has chased away the previous 18 with her mischievous kung fu skills! Wei Feng pretends to not know how to fight and accepts the job.

There's a TON more to the story that I won't spoil for those interested. I will say that he'll have to fight his way out of Five Sun Manor to prevent his family's execution, develop the title's style (and my namesake) to counteract the Clan's Shadow Technique, and fight his way BACK into Five Sun Manor! Much to my frustration, not necessarily in that order! Adding to the list of liabilities is the under-use of the great Lily Li Li ("Disciples of the 36th Chamber") as Zhizhi's mother and an ending that could've prevented ALL the film's tragedy with a little communication! Imagine Shakespeare tackling a "Three's Company" episode!

Well, the fights are choreographed by the director, Lau Kar Leung ("Heroes of the East"), who's known for his authentic depictions of kung fu and is himself a bona fide master of Hung Gar (Tiger/Crane). He has done better choreography but I've not seen a better fighting performance given by David Chiang. This film has a decent amount of fisticuffs for a flick that's more story-based. Lots of weapons and some hand-to-hand. The flick opens with Wei Feng proving his skills to the Emperor by squaring off against brief appearances by monk Gordon Liu ("The 36th Chamber of Shaolin") and Lee Hoi San (just about EVERY old-school flick) as a Mongol warrior. In general, the fights are pretty good for the late-70s with plenty of shapes!

Dragon Dynasty's release is curiously devoid of ANY special features and that seems to be the trend they've decided to set with their recent versions of Shaw Brothers flicks. While that IS a complaint, I am happy with the lower price tag and burgeoning selection of classic, legitimate fu, particularly Lau Kar Leung's titles. This one has a fantastic, BEAUTIFULLY remastered, widescreen picture with spoken languages available in Mandarin or English and subtitles available in English, Spanish, and English SDH. If this tickles your fancy, I would act SOON as the company's future is questionable. They haven't updated their site or catalog in months despite a half-dozen releases this year and a lot of their older titles are no longer available.

I hesitate to say I enjoyed it but it will receive more viewings and it's definitely interesting. This film was meant to elicit a specific response and was likely not originally prescribed for a western audience. That being said, I would recommend it mainly to old-school aficionados and those curious about 17th century China.

1978. aka: Deadly Mantis
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2002
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Forced into being a Ching spy (David Chiang) is sent to infiltrate a family that is suspected of being revolutionaries. He falls in love with the daughter (Li Li-Li) and marries her. Soon after the spy finds out that the family members are revolutionaries, the family discovers the true identity of thier new son in-law and for their daughter's sake allow him to stay with them but will not let him leave thier home. Time is running out and the spy must get back to the Ching Emperior to report or his parents will be killed. The spy convinces his wife he needs to leave to visit his family. He and his wife fight side by side against her family and she is killed in the battle. He goes and creates a new style of kungfu while in hiding called mantis fist. He then returns to avenge his wife and manages to defeat the rest of the family. When he returns home with his job complete he has an interesting surprise waiting for him.
The DVD quality is what is you can expect from from a dubbed VCR tape to DVD. This is quite normal for a movie of this type and any true kung fu movie collector wouldn't worry about this.
I rate movies based upon the content, the actors, and costumes and humour. The quality of the DVD has little to do with how I rate these types of movies.
This type of movie is nothing like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Iron Monkey. If your looking for movies like that don't bother watching this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
"Shaolin Mantis" remains one of my top 10 best kung fu flicks of all time. This was my first exposure to the mantis fist, and to me it's still very impressive even now. David Chiang performed stallerly, his overall demeanor in this movie was simply top notch!! I would recommend this flick to any old school kung fu lovers out there,,this is one which you'll not walk away dissapointed!! The only draw back is the picture quality,,,almost every copy I've come across is really poor// however, still did not take anything away from this amazing flick!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2014
Format: DVD
As far as kung fu cinema goes, this movie was important for 2 reasons. The first and most obvious reason is that it essentially introduces the praying mantis style of kung-fu fighting. Secondly the fight choreography in this movie is really excellent.

Each move is made with such precision, that one wrong move during the weapons battles could seriously injure someone (even if they were just using plastic). The fight scene finale where the Mantis style is pitted against the Shadow style is definitely worth a watch.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2010
Format: DVD
Probably one of the Best Martial Arts movies depicting Praying Mantis Kung Fu! David Chiang at his finest with some nice moves. The story line is entertaining, especially when David's character develops Praying Mantis style while observing the animal. A classic Shaw Brothers film that should be part of your collection. Great choreography (old School style) no quick cuts in every punch or extreme closeups where you cant tell what the martial artist are doing, like in most modern MA films. If you like Mantis Style Kung Fu check out "Dance of the Drunken Mantis" and "Prying Mantis Kung Fu"
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on April 25, 2007
Format: DVD
This is one of my favorite kung fu fic's of all time. The final fight scene is one of my top five finishing moves of all time, next to North Shaolin vs South Shaolin. The movie starts off a little slow only to set you up for two different but simular fight scenes. The female lead is just a bit silly but she plays the spoiled brat very well. The opening scene and the ending are in typical Asian style (a few light moments, surrounded by alot of conflict). A mission turned love story to tragity, ending with a twist. This is a classic you or any body would want to add to their Kung fu collection.
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on February 22, 2015
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
David Chiang is another great martial arts actor who does not disappoint with his acting skills. I could watch his movies all day. Even thought this was back in the seventies it is still a good movie. He is sent to spy for his clan, falls in love, marries, tries to escape the new family, loses his wife in the process but defeats the rebel family in the end by learning new kung fu moves from a pray mantis.
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