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The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

264 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

(Action) 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.

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A pure old-school martial arts movie, beloved by aficionados, that also appeals to nonfans simply as a rousing action film. The often-imitated fact-based plot (see The Karate Kid) centers upon the rigorous training process undergone in the mid-19th century by the anti-Manchu Chinese patriot San Te (Gordon Liu). It's depicted as a grueling voyage into the unknown. Cast out of his home village when he stands up to the cruel warlord (Lo Lieh) who slaughtered his parents, the refugee seeks out the martial monks of the Shaolin Temple, who steer him through a torturous series of "chambers"--horrendous ordeals designed to build strength and agility--before he's even allowed to study boxing or swordfighting. Finally he defeats a rival by inventing a brand-new weapon, the three-section chain-linked staff. But innovation can be carried only so far; when San Te suggests opening a "36th chamber" in the temple that would teach Shaolin techniques to the populace at large (so that they can fight the nasty Manchus) he is drummed out of the corps. Naturally he returns to his home village, slaughters the baddies, and prepares to open China's first public Shaolin-style kung fu school. Many of the pupils San Te recruits in the final reel became legendary martial artists in their own right, the "Fathers of the Church" of the Chinese kung fu tradition. This is strong action entertainment with real historical resonance. --David Chute

Special Features

  • Concert video for Wu-Tang Clan's "Gravel Pit"
  • Interview with star Gordon Liu
  • "Shaolin: A Hero Birthplace"
  • Commentary by the RZA of Wu-Tang Clan and film critic Andy Klein
  • Interviews with the RZA and film scholars David Chute and Andy Klein
  • Stills gallery
  • Trailer gallery
  • Commentator biographies

Product Details

  • Actors: Gordon Liu, Lo Lieh
  • Directors: Lau Kar Leung
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Dragon Dynasty
  • DVD Release Date: June 19, 2007
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (264 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000MM0LEG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,888 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 98 people found the following review helpful By morgoth on June 26, 2007
Format: DVD
Gordon Liu (also known as Lau Kar Fai) stars as a young man who's friends and family have been killed by the new government. He wakes up at the Shaolin Temple, a place he has only heard about a couple of times. When he realizes he is at the best place possible to learn kung fu, he begs and begs to learn so that he can revenge his family. He does finally get taught, but has to start with the basics. Every part of his body must become stronger before he can learn how to fight. After he finishes the first stages of training in record time, he is now highly respected and moves onto learning actual fighting styles. He breezes through this and becomes a great fighter in only 5 years or so. This is not one of those movies that has 1 or 2 training sequences. Gordon is shown in at least 13 of the chambers and half of the movie is spent at Shaolin. So after he has become a master fighter, he is given a high honor and told that he can become second in charge of any of the 35 chambers. A senior monk played by the great Lee Hoi San objects to this and says that he can't have this honor unless Gordon defeats him in a weapons duel. Lee Hoi San does not play a villain, but he does not think that Gordon is a good enough fighter to receive so much praise. His plan works better than he could have ever imagined. He ends up helping Gordon improve as a fighter and as a person. Gordon is told he can leave Shaolin now, and he goes to take revenge on the evil General who killed his family.

One thing that sets this movie apart is that it tries to be a real movie, and it succeeds. Watching Gordon grow up into a man is remarkable to see. The commentators didn't notice, but a lot of the stuff in this movie is very real.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Craig Featherstone on July 23, 2004
Format: DVD
Considered one of the finest martial arts films ever made, Shaolin Master Killer stars popular old school kung fu badass Chia Hui (Gordon) Liu as San Te, a young man who becomes involved in the struggle against the malevolent Manchus, seditious anti-Ching patriots. Steered by Ho Kuang-han, the Manchus have surreptitiously set up a headquarters in Canton. When his family is murdered for being linked with rebels, San Tse narrowly escapes and eventually makes his way to the Shaolin monastery. Here he requests to stay and learn the fighting techniques of the Shaolin, and after brief discussion among the elders, he is allowed to remain.

The better part of the film is dedicated to the painstaking and exhaustive training San Te undergoes. San Te hones his skills over several years, and the tasks he must complete are within an arduous, and sometimes torturous, series of thirty-five distinct chambers (or phases) of instruction - ordeals intended to develop strength and agility. San Te?s initial failures are amusing (such as attempting in vain to balance on bound wooden logs in the water while also trying to eat lunch from a bowl), but when he finally begins to grasp the Shaolin techniques, he progresses past the other pupils and becomes the greatest student the temple has ever seen. Though there are only thirty-five chambers, Liu's character argues for the creation of a new one. This "36th chamber" in the temple would teach Shaolin kung fu to the general population so that they might effectively fight the Manchus. This idea doesn?t go over at all, and San Te is sent back into the world as a beggar monk. However, San Te has already learned what he needs in order to whip some severe amounts of Manchu ass.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By M. Farineau on March 14, 2001
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Dude, I was so stoked when I saw this was available on DVD! I remember staying up late in the mid-eighties to catch this flick on Kung-Fu Theater. The original title was "Master Killer". Why they decided to add "Shaolin" to the DVD release title is beyond me. I wasn't even sure it was the same movie when I ordered it, but when I saw the opening credits I knew I had struck gold! It was a stand out then and still is today. All of the fighting sequences are awesome, and the training sequences will probably never be matched. The acting, directing, cinematography, and fight choreography are all first rate. This Kung-Fu movie has it all! I don't understand why Gordon Liu is not widely recognized as one of the greats. His speed and skill are as impressive as anyone around today. I'm really looking forward to more of his movies being released on DVD. Don't expect high-flying Hong Kong action; this is strictly old school Shaolin ass-kicking action. The down side: I would have given this DVD 5 stars except for one thing: Damage to the original print used to make this DVD is pretty bad in some places; with dirt and "hair" on the frames, and some of the night scenes a little too dark because of the age of the print. It does not interfere with the action sequences, and was only really distracting two times throughout the entire film. The owner of the distribution rights to this movie needs do it justice and have it digitally remastered frame by frame. A classic like this should be cleaned up and released as beautiful as the day it graced the screen. The sound for the dailogue is a little too soft in a few places, but overall it's okey and the musical score is very good. The punching and kicking sounds don't suffer one bit.Read more ›
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Sounds like The Return of Master Killer: Return to the 36th chamber.
Aug 9, 2009 by SW |  See all 2 posts
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If you go to hkflix dot com it has a vastly superior selection with much more informed reviewers and a search engine that will help you by entering "English Language"! ~ S->
Feb 21, 2008 by phil_moscowitz_lovable_rogue |  See all 5 posts
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