(Cantonese with English subtitles) In this no-nonsense 1985 classic, a young man evades arranged marriage by joining the Shaolin Temple. There, he and a group of fellow disciples face the ... See full summary »
The anti-Ching patriots, under the guidance of Ho Kuang-han, have secretly set up their base in Canton, disguised as school masters. During a brutal Manchu attack, Lui manages to escape and... See full summary »
The Cantonese hero Fong Sai Yuk becomes involved in the secret brotherhood "The Red Flower", who are trying to overthrow the Manchurian emperor and re-establishing the Ming dynasty. The ... See full summary »
The Shaolin Temple is the last place to resist defeat by the Manchu Dynasty, mostly because of their unique fighting style. Men from far and wide come to wait outside the temple, hoping ... See full summary »
Two rivaling families live on opposite sides of a river. One of them practices Shaolin kung fu and has only sons, while the other has only daughters and practices the Wu-Tang sword. The ... See full summary »
A town is taken over by a brutal gang, which has taken a safe in a robbery of another town and needs to find someone who can open it for them. They terrorize the townsfolk, beating up and ... See full summary »
Shaolin burns again as Fong Si Yu takes on the Manchus
MEN FROM THE MONASTERY (aka DISCIPLES OF DEATH, 1974) is the second film in Chang Cheh's Shaolin cycle and features Fu Sheng and Chen Kuan Tai returning to the roles they played in HEROES TWO (1973), the legendary Shaolin fighters Fong Si Yu and Hung Si Kwan. They are joined here by Chi Kuan-Chun as Fong's partner, Hu Wei Chien. All three stars would play these roles in later films.
The story opens with Fong Si Yu's `graduation' from Shaolin Temple (i.e. his grueling run through Death Alley), and goes on to tell the story of Hu Wei Chien's troubles with a local kung fu school and Fong's sending him to Shaolin to learn kung fu so he can get revenge for the murder of his father. (The story of Hu Wei Chien would be restaged in a later film, THE INVINCIBLE KUNG FU BROTHERS, aka SHAOLIN AVENGERS, with the same actors.) Eventually the two heroes hook up with Hung Si Kwan to fight Manchu oppressors who burn down Shaolin (in shots taken from HEROES TWO) and square off in the spectacular final battle against the three stars plus six compatriots, including Hu Wei Chen's girlfriend. (In the tape reviewed, scenes of gore in the final battle are printed in black-and-white.)
Martial arts director Lau Kar Leung, himself a student of Shaolin-originated Hung-style Chinese boxing (named for Hung Si Kwan), directed the fight scenes here and sought to make them more authentic. Although there are few worthy villains in the cast, the fighting of the three stars and the attention to specific styles distinguished this film from most earlier kung fu films. It still pales, however, next to the unofficial Shaolin epic trilogy of SHAOLIN MARTIAL ARTS (listed on IMDB as SHAO LIN MARTIAL ARTS), FIVE MASTERS OF DEATH, and DEATH CHAMBER (aka SHAOLIN TEMPLE), all directed by Chang Cheh and all also starring Fu Sheng and Chi Kuan-Chun, who play their regular roles of Fong Si Yu and Hu Wei Chien only in the third film. Still, MEN FROM THE MONASTERY remains a seminal film in the kung fu pantheon. For the record, the end text (in English) describing the fate of Shaolin martial arts spells the main characters' names as follows: Hu Hueh-Chien, Fang Shih-Yu, and Hung Hsi-Kuan.
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