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Return of the 18 Bronzemen (1976)

Yong zheng da po shi ba tong ren (original title)
Despite the national resistance, the Manchurians have taken over China, but the Ching Emperor fears that the Shaolin Temple disciples would overthrow the dynasty. So he disguises himself as... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Lingfeng Shangguan ...
(as Polly Shangkuan)
Peng Tien
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mei-Yi Chang
Pao-Shan Chang
Ting Chao
Chiu Chen
Chien Chin
Kang Chin
Kuang Hu
Fei Lung Huang
Kuan-Hsien Huang
Hua-Liang Hung
You Min Ko
Ting-chun Lin
Li Tsu Liu
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Storyline

Despite the national resistance, the Manchurians have taken over China, but the Ching Emperor fears that the Shaolin Temple disciples would overthrow the dynasty. So he disguises himself as a disciple, in order to become a kung fu master and control the Shaolin monks. But according to custom, he must pass the test of the legendary 18 Bronzemen before he can leave the Temple... Written by Artemis-9

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shaolin | independent film | See All (2) »

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Action | Adventure | War

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14 August 1976 (Taiwan)  »

Also Known As:

The 18 Bronzemen Part 2  »

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2.35 : 1
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Followed by The 18 Bronzemen (1976) See more »

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User Reviews

Carter Wong fights the Bronze Men again in awkward sequel
23 June 2002 | by (Bronx, NY) – See all my reviews

RETURN OF THE EIGHTEEN BRONZEMEN (1976, aka 18 BRONZEMEN 2) is not exactly a sequel to THE 18 BRONZEMEN (listed on IMDB as EIGHTEEN BRONZEMEN) but simply revisits the same territory and actually remakes some of the same scenes. The same three lead actors return, but not in the same roles, and only one, Carter Wong, has a starring role. (The others are Polly Shang Kwan and Tien Peng.) While it boasts some imaginative Shaolin training scenes, the film suffers from the lack of a fully developed plotline and ends abruptly as if there were a sequel waiting in the wings. It's as if a storyteller stopped after introducing the characters and setting up the premise. (The story thread is picked up to some degree in BLAZING TEMPLE, also 1976, another film in director Joseph Kuo's Shaolin/Bronzemen series.)

Carter Wong plays Ai Sung-Chueh, the Fourth Prince, who uses forgery, deceit and assassination to position himself next in line for the Emperor's throne. Strangely, after his accession to the throne, he walks out on the court to go study incognito at Shaolin Temple to gain mastery of martial arts and get a sense of the burgeoning rebel movement. It seems foolish for a new Emperor to walk away for three years from a delicate political situation in which his plentiful enemies (including his brothers and the Emperor's ministers) will have ample opportunity to turn the tables on him and put someone else in power, especially when evidence of his trickery is so easy to turn up. But logic is not this film's strong suit.

The bulk of the film takes place at Shaolin as Carter undergoes three years of training and attempts to graduate by fighting the Bronze Men in a series of contests of strength and skill. (The Bronze Men include men in head-to-toe robotic outfits, more gold than bronze, and men painted gold who fight with swords, sticks and kung fu.) Tien Peng and Polly Shang Kwan show up briefly in separate scenes. Early on, Tien plays the fiance of a girl Carter had rescued and is challenged by Carter to demonstrate his kung fu. Carter's defeat at Tien's hands strengthens his resolve to go to Shaolin to study. Polly, dressed as a man (although not fooling any of her fans), shows up early to fight Carter after an incident in a teahouse and then fights him once again, much later, after his Shaolin training.

The Shaolin training scenes and battles with the Bronze Men take up nearly an hour of the film's running time and are beautifully staged and filmed on elaborate sets. Many viewers may ignore the lack of a strong plot structure and simply concentrate on the fights. Carter, a prolific if underrated kung fu star, is quite good here and the film serves as a spectacular showcase for his skills. He also plays a more interesting character than usual, someone driven to pass Shaolin's rigorous testing in record time, yet also ultimately committed to the Temple's destruction. The implications of these contradictory impulses, however, are never adequately explored. (Curiously, he never actually witnesses any evidence of rebel activity at Shaolin.) A Hong Kong import DVD offers a more complete version of the film than a widely available English-dubbed U.S. VHS edition which leaves out six scenes, including the final one.


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