The 36th Chamber of Shaolin
A seminal classic produced by the founding fathers of kung fu film, the Shaw Brothers, this is the story of a student who undertakes a grueling program of martial arts training at the secretive and legendary monastery of Shaolin, where he plots revenge upon the enemies who ravaged his village.
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The thing that makes this film unique is it shows you the steps that the main character goes through to train and learn the skills needed to fight. The storyline other than this training is really almost an after thought that bookends the film, even though that plot is enjoyable enough. I highly recommend this film.
As others have pointed out, there are plenty of great training scenes here- and naturally, all of them pay off in the conclusion of the film. This DVD version has a really fun commentary with the RZA and Andy Klein. Klein at first seems unsure what to do with the RZA, as the RSA talks about the film like a fan, while Klein seems to expect a more formal discussion based on the world of Hong Kong cinema and Chinese film. Before long, the RZA has won Klein over with a love for the film and endless insights and trivia, even on the difference between the English subtitles and the English dubbing, where the RZA knows the latter word for word (as in the scene where San Ta tries to start at the top chamber). While I have a few other titles I rank a bit higher, few Kung-Fu films are as much fun to watch, and this DVD is a solid edition with some great features.
~shauns movie review
The action does pick up near the end, and there are parts that rank with my favorites, and the beginning is good and paced well, but overall, it's... between ok and good. And it pains me to say that. I wanted to say it's the pinnacle of kung fu movies, like other reviewers. I would truly rank this at 3.5 stars, and round up, but I struggled to give this four stars. So I rounded down on this one.
There is no denying the significance of this film. Gordon Liu is in top form in this as well. And this Dragon Dynasty version is excellent in terms of color, sharpness, extras, etc. But, honestly, I would wait for a price drop and/or try to get it somewhere cheaper. There are other dvds out there more deserving of your money sooner. Unless, of course, DD announces they will stop production, then pounce on it, because this edition is great.