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Disciples of Shaolin

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Impetuous young martial arts master Kuan takes a job at a textile factory where another disciple of the revered Shaolin discipline warns him about the rival Manchu clan, who run another nearby mill. Combat breaks out between the two warring camps, with Kuan becoming his boss' right-hand man but becoming distracted by the promise of wealth. Soon his skills are put to the test by his opponents, who practice expert boxing and the deadly: Iron-Finger Lock, which can kill a man in his tracks. One of the all-time highlights in kung fu movie history, this action spectacle made a star of leading man Alexander Fu Sheng (The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter, Heroes Shed No Tears) and remains a stunning high point in modern action cinema.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Fu Sheng, Kuan-Chun Chi, Ming Li Chen, Ching Ping Wang, Ti Lu
  • Directors: Chang Cheh
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 10, 2009
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002KLQ2YU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,382 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Disciples of Shaolin" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Of the four reissues of Shaw Brothers movies with the late [Alexander] Fu Sheng to come out in 2009, "Disciples of Shaolin" may please his fans the most, especially if they felt burned by "Brave Archer and His Mate" (his role, not the roles done by "Venoms" and "baby Venoms").

This effort gets only four stars because the screenplay is highly derivative of Bruce Lee's "The Big Boss" (a little of "On the Waterfront", too? Chang Cheh DID like his Brando); otherwise, it's FIVE stars for the end product.... No spoilers here for newcomers!! With great fight choreography [by Lau Kar Leung], evocative photography and fine acting, it looks and feels [almost] like an "A" picture ("Heroes Two" seems more like 1960's "Batman", by comparison).

From the opening credits onward, it's a Fu Sheng showcase that will please the men as much as the ladies; in some scenes, he comes off like Jackie Chan, and this is BEFORE Jackie became known of in Hong Kong, let alone the world! His performance here gives the best of David Chiang a run for its money, and this remark comes from someone who is partial to Chiang's work, so that's saying a lot. Also, let's not forget Chi Kuan-chi's part as Fu Sheng's older brother; if you liked him in "Showdown at the Cottonmill", you'll like his moves (as well as his acting) here. The [typical] great supporting cast helps keep things moving. The music cues add to the flavor, too; is some of this from "blaxploitation" movies?

Another decent Image DVD (nice new logo, guys) with English and Mandarin soundtracks (subtitles at your command), and add bonus points for the front cover of the case that looks like a comic book cover ("Master of Kung Fu", maybe)! A must-have for Fu Sheng fans, and it would make for a good first stop in starting up a collection of the movies of "Alexander the Great"!

All the best, Brother Fang.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Director Chang Cheh ("5 Deadly Venoms") and star, Alexander Fu Sheng ("Avenging Eagle") cover territory previously explored by Cheh in "The Boxer From Shantung" (1972). Apparently not content after this one, the two would later reunite for "The Chinatown Kid" (1977). None are related except by theme and personnel. This is my least favorite of the 3 but there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, except Chi Kuan Chun ("Green Jade Statuette") getting FAR too little fight time.

Fu Sheng plays Guan Feng Yi, who moves to the town of his martial brother, Wang Hon (Chun). Guan Feng Yi is poor and gets offered a job in the textile mill that employs Wang Hon. A Manchu-run rival mill across town is roughing up the workers but Wang Hon discourages Guan Feng Yi's involvement, even though both are trained fighters. Eventually, Guan Feng Yi does fight, wastes just about all his boss's enemies, and gets quite the lucrative promotion, including a gold pocket watch (it was digital in "Chinatown Kid") and unlimited brothel access. Is this a good thing or will it cost him his integrity and the friendship of Wang Hon? Or perhaps his life?

If not compared to the other two movies, this is a pretty good old-school fu-flick, and I am perhaps biased, as I saw the other two first. The fights won't blow anyone away but they're fast enough once Fu Sheng starts swingin'. The brawls mostly stay on the Basher side but there are some genuine Hung-Gar moves shown as the fight choreographer is the great Lau Kar Leung ("Legend of the Drunken Master").

Another stellar release from Image Entertainment. I wish they had some special features but, whatever. On the plus side, there are LOADS of sweet Shaw Bros. trailers! The remastering job by Celestial is fantastic, as usual.
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The maestro director Chang Cheh remained in Taiwan for 1975 still making movies for his Chang Film Co. It wasn't a Shaw production per se, but it was affiliated with them. He started the year with "Disciples of Shaolin" ("The Invincible One" in the U.S.). This period movie involved the friction between the Manchus and the Hans with Alexander Fu Sheng (as well as Chi Kuan Chun) kicking serious Manchu arse. Like Chang Cheh's earlier "Boxer from Shantung" and 1977's "Chinatown Kid" (also starring Fu Sheng), this is a rags-to-riches tale that shows how too much power and greed can corrupt even the most goodhearted. Chang's themes of morality, brotherhood and retribution are clearly at hand here. The scene where Fu Sheng has a final showdown with Chiang Tao is powerful stuff.

Actually, there are many powerful & emotional scenes here, and they don't all involve fu. Speaking of which, by 1975 the bar on choreography (done here by Lau Kar-Leung) was definitely raised on Chang's pictures, and it rarely dropped below that line from this point on. Good visuals, good kung fu. Great use of shoes & gold pocket watches representing higher echelon status to Fu Sheng. Image did another first-class job here; remastered, widescreen, and a choice between a decent English dub or the original Mandarin with good subtitles. Just as a note of interest, Johnny To remade this film in 1993 as "The Barefooted Kid", an acclaimed film that was also choreographed by Lau Kar-Leung.
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I was happy to see this one getting an official Region 1 release. I'm also glad to see that Amazon's plot description is accurate, as many other places are just copying and pasting the wrong synopsis from some other movie. I always recommend this movie to people as evidence that a martial arts film can be be a great film too. It may disappoint fans who ONLY care about martial arts, but I think most people who think that martial arts films are just disposable junk will have their eyes opened. I think of Disciples of Shaolin as director Cheh Chang's personal ode to the beauty and charm of Fu Sheng, his protege. Only about 20 years old at the time, Fu Sheng looks the best he ever did in this film, so endearing, innocent and cocky at the same time. Some might complain about the familiarity of the plot, but the "country bumpkin" thing was extremely common in these films. It's almost not a cliche, but a tradition that each film tries to build from. The Kung Fu choreography is among the best ever, and yet it is part of the story, not the whole attraction; it's just one element that makes the movie extremely human, dramatic, humorous, and tragic.
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