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THE Shaolin Temple movie
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.
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.