Customer Reviews: The 36th Chamber of Shaolin
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on June 26, 2007
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. When Gordon has to use the pole with the wieght on the end to hit the bell over and over again, that is a real weight on the end of the pole! Gordon talks in the interview (included on this disc) about how the sabres that Lo Lieh uses in the final fight are real, and it just makes the movie that much better. Dont expect your average tale of revenge. I was touched deeply when I first saw this and there are not many kung fu movies that have as much meaning and feeling.

Rating- 5/5

Picture quality is remastered very well. It does get a bit darker and lighter in some scenes, but other than slight print damage once or twice, the picture quality is perfect. The Mandarin, Cantonese and English tracks all sound excellent. In fact, I have never heard the English dub sound this good. The subtitles should have been written better, and the English dub is actually a better translation. They are not horribly written, but could have been a lot better. I am not complaining though since this is the only fault on the DVD.

Special features include a great commentary from The RZA and this Andy Klein guy who does not know very much about the genre. Luckily RZA is there to help him point out actors like Lau Kar Wing, Wilson Tong and Hsiao Hou. I found the commmentary enjoyable. RZA talks about his experiences with this movie, and he is definitely a 36th Chamber expert. And I found it pretty funny that he seems to think Gordon Liu is a monk in real life.

The 17 minute interview with Gordon Liu is very interesting. He talks about many things such as training day and night and how great of an honor it was to work with a megastar like Lo Lieh. Gordon skips over the years like people should know what he is talking about, but just in case you don't, I will fill you in. In 1974 Lau Kar Leung was Chang Cheh's top action director and Gordon Liu was cast as a villain alongside Johnny Wang Lung Wei and Leung Kar Yan in movies like '7 Man Army'. When Lau Kar Leung split up with Chang Cheh he started directing his own movies for the Shaw Brothers, starting with 'Spiritual Boxer'. In his next movie 'Challenge of the Masters', Lau Kar Leung cast his younger adopted brother Gordon Liu as the lead. This is what led to Gordon becoming the star of 'The 36th Chamber of Shaolin', the greatest Shaolin Temple movie ever made.

There is a 17 minute documentary on Shaolin that is basically another 17 minutes of awesome info from Gordon Liu.

The 8 minute interview with film critic/scholars Andy Klein and David Shute is a very good description of how great of a movie this is.

The RZA gets a 10 minute interview where he talks about where he first started watching these movies and also gives his thoughts on the Shaw Brothers and explains why the Master Killer in his rap group took that name.

The trailers are the best special feature. The trailer for 'Shaolin Mantis' is very unique. Instead of showing clips from the movie, the actors introduce what kind of kung fu styles are going to be used (be sure to look for Lily Li!). Lau Kar Leung is the director of 'Shaolin Mantis' and doesn't even have a role in the movie, but he gets to show off his ultra awesome kung fu skills quite a bit in the trailer. I think I have watched this trailer about 50 times, and I will eventually master that Shadow style!

Also included are ORIGINAL trailers for 'The 36th Chamber', 'Return to the 36th Chamber', 'Disciples of the 36th Chamber', '8 Diagram Pole Fighter', 'My Young Auntie', 'One Armed Swordsman', 'Infernal Affairs 3' and the original Master Killer US TV commercial.

The last special feature is a gallery of original movie posters and movie stills.
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on June 19, 2007
What can I say about this movie that hasn't been said before? A classic. Yes. Influential? Absolutely. Entertaining? Most definitely. This movie is as good a place to start as any if you're interested in the Kung Fu cinema. And if you're already into Kung Fu, you've probably heard of this in the least, and I can't imagine why you haven't seen it. As to this release, really the best I've seen. The picture and sound are great, and the language option is nice. Most of the features are nice as well. Though I don't know how useful the Wu-tang clan video was. Still...a worthy DVD to a great movie.
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on December 11, 2007
If you love kung fu in the movies or real life, you need to see this. No other film I've seen sucks you into the story like this one does. There are only a handful of fights compared to most old-school classics, but once you've settled into watching, you won't be bothered by that at all. This film is as much about the journey as it is the destination.

Our hero, played with sincerity by Gordon Liu, joins up with some rebels who have had it up to here with the wacky shenanigans of those pesky Manchus. After his involvement is discovered, they kill his old man and Gordon escapes. He is making his way to the Shaolin temple when he is attacked and injured, barely escaping again. He makes it to a village near the temple and passes out after informing some locals of his plan. The townies then put his comatose body in a basket and send it away with some monks who come in to town for fresh supplies.

After he is discovered and healed, there is some debate and he is eventually allowed to stay. He becomes "San Te" and sweeps floors for about a year before he starts learning martial arts. What follows is a realistic glimpse into the lives and training of kung fu practicing monks. The viewer is allowed access to this young man's journey through chamber after chamber of grueling strength and coordination exercises. About a dozen are shown and they never get boring. I'd like to see all 35, personally.

There is still quite a bit that goes on but I won't spoil it for the uninitiated. There is some great weapon work as San Te is credited (fictionally) with the invention of the 3-section staff. This is, in my opinion, from start to finish, the best kung fu movie ever made. There are movies with better fights, but none with a better story and better direction. Lau Kar Leung really accomplished something unique here.

This version from Dragon Dynasty is the best you're ever going to get, and that's a good thing. The picture is remastered by Celestial and is soft, clean, and luscious. It's also chock-full o' goodies. I really have to love a movie before I watch the special features. The RZA really captures, in both his interview and running commentary, the love of these films as an American youth, particularly for those of us who grew up in the 70's and 80's. The Gordon Liu interview is fascinating, as is the mini-documentary about the Shaolin temple.

In short, BUY THIS.

1978. aka: Master Killer; Shaolin Master Killer
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on February 18, 2013
This is such a great movie, that a local theater where I live decided a few weeks ago, to play a 16mm film copy on a rainy Tuesday night when they usually have no business. The theater sold out!! There was a line around the block hoping to get in. There were people on folding chairs in the (unused) wheelchair section. The most amazing thing though, was except for cheering, no one said a word during the movie. Not one cell phone rang the entire time, people didn't even get up to go to the bathroom, they didn't want to miss anything.
This copy has been digitally restored, so the picture quality is better now than it probably was when it was originally made. There is also a very long interview with Gordon Liu (who is almost 70 and still kicking butt!)
Yes, this is a cheesy Kung Fu movie, but if you like cheesy old Kung Fu movies, and this isn't in your collection already, then you are missing the one & only Kung Fu movie that you should be watching-
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on June 13, 2013
If you need a review of The 36th Chamber of Shaolin then you never knew the film.

If you never knew the film before you most likely will not like it.

However, if you are a sever Kung Fu fan, then I highly recommend it.

Five Deadly Venoms, Shaolin vs Wu-Tang. Snake in Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master (Even Drunken Master II), should have been previously viewed by you or on your list as well.
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on December 11, 2015
This one Kung Fu movie has been known by many, if not all Kung Fu officionados. To be regarded as the 'best Kung Fu Movie' ever made. It details the story of the southern Shaolin Kung Fu temple ( or actually known as "Sil Lum"' in the southern provinces of China ). Also just to note, there were many hidden Shaolin, or Sil Lum Kung Fu training practices. Once hidden, but finally revealed in this one movie. It has a premise, a storyline. Please, to anyone who isn't even a Marial Artist. Get this one Kung Fu movie!!! It stars "Gordon Liu"!!!! One of the stars of "Kill Bill Part 2"!
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on November 2, 2011
So i bought this movie and then when I got the movie i popped it in and when i heard the music of the first couple seconds I was greatly disappointed because it sound like a 70's movie. So i quick checked to see what year this movie was made and sure enough 1979 was the year make. So I thought oh well all old movies can't be bad and gave it a try. I WAS SUPRISINLY VERY PLEASED WITH THE OUTCOME! I am so amazed at the quality of this old film I am giving it a 5 stars. From a man standing up for a good cause and willing to risk everything. To surpassing all his comrades to mastering and teach others to fight for justice. It sounds like me and my life...or Jesus. Anyway the movie is rockin' and it has a different feel to it. THis is a keeper and goes on my shelf!

~shauns movie review
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on September 8, 2015
Its a DVD when you buy a DVD you expect DVD quality pictures and sound.

First this is dubbed. 2nd, its poor picture quality.

Bottom line. Its a vhs, transferred to a its on a DVD. Not DVD quality Video. If you are looking for this movie, its cool. I love the movie...but its just that there aren't pure clear video picture quality.

If you like Kung-Fu and want a good movie and just want to see a classic, this is one of them
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on May 11, 2011
I just want to say I was very happy when I saw this movie in BluRay format.
I am very happy to decided to buy it.
I great kung fu movie classic.
Arrived fast and in excellent conditions.
The sound and the quality are excellent.
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on October 6, 2015
It's great to have a solid DVD copy of this film on hand. No classic Kung Fu film collection is really complete with a copy of "The 36th Chamber". The film draws you into its story which has plenty of layers and levels,and as many wise masters of kung-fu as you would expect in the Shaolin temple. There is good humor and wit in the film as well, although it is far from a comedy.

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.
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