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The 18 Bronzemen (1976)
"Shao Lin Si shi ba tong ren" (original title)

6.8
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During the Manchurian invasion of China, the son of the Ming Dynasty General takes refuge in the Shaolin Temple to learn martial arts, so that he may seek revenge for his dead father. But ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Yi Chang
Bao-Liang Chen ...
(as Bao-liang Chen)
Shufang Chen
Nan Chiang ...
Brother Ta-Chi
Chien Chin
You Min Ho
Kuang Hu
Wei Hu
Fei Lung Huang
Kuan-hsien Huang
Li Tsu Liu
Jack Long ...
Young Ta-Chi
Bi Yun Lu
Ping Lu
Hsiao Lung
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Storyline

During the Manchurian invasion of China, the son of the Ming Dynasty General takes refuge in the Shaolin Temple to learn martial arts, so that he may seek revenge for his dead father. But he must first endure the rigorous test of the temple's legendary 18 Bronzemen. Written by Artemis-9

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A super death squad, they GASH you... SMASH you... MASH you.

Genres:

Action | Drama | War

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Release Date:

20 October 1978 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The 18 Bronzemen  »

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2.35 : 1
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Referenced in Camp Blood 2 (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

Carter Wong and the Shaolin Monks fight THE 18 BRONZEMEN
10 November 2001 | by (Bronx, NY) – See all my reviews

THE 18 BRONZEMEN is a celebrated 1976 kung fu film from the prolific hand of producer/director Joseph Kuo who operated in Taiwan in the 1970s. It stars Carter Wong, Tien Peng, and Polly Shang Kwan in a tale of Shaolin training, lifelong friendship, and a mission of revenge during the early days of the Qing Dynasty. The uneven plot structure suffers from the lack of a suitable payoff at the end after the powerful setup of the film's stunning first half. Also, the presence of three strong heroes is not matched by any villain formidable enough to provide a satisfying final battle.

The first section follows two dedicated Shaolin students through rigorous training, leading up to a sequence of challenges posed by the Bronze Men of the title whose function is to test the combat skills of the students in order to graduate them from Shaolin. This sequence is a fanciful addition to Shaolin cinematic lore and would be repeated in different variations in Kuo's later Shaolin films. (The Bronze Men include men in head-to-toe robotic outfits, more gold than bronze, and men whose skin is painted gold who fight with swords, sticks and kung fu.)

During their travels, the two friends, Carter Wong and Tien Peng, are joined by a female fighter who was betrothed to Tien Peng as a child and is played by Polly Shang Kwan. The scenes which introduce her are clever and funny and feature her dressed as a man who deliberately pesters Tien until the opportune time to reveal her identity. Eventually, after various attempts on Tien's life and the revelation of his family background, the stage is set for a final confrontation with Hei Chu Ying, the traitor who had Tien's father killed.

The fight choreography is less robust than it should be and, of the three leads, only Carter comes off as a powerful fighter. Polly is energetic and offers a strong, engaging presence, but her kung fu relies as much on superhuman (trampoline-assisted) leaps as it does on kicks. Tien Peng is a polished male lead and a good actor but he's not the fighter Carter is. The actor who plays the chief villain is never seen in combat until the very end, so is never presented as much of a fighting threat to the heroes.

The photography and production design are visually impressive and well above average for this kind of film. There is an original Chinese music score, even in the U.S. English-dubbed version.

I watched both the English dub and the Hong Kong import DVD for this review. The HK version is completely reedited and includes footage from EIGHT MASTERS (aka 18 BRONZEMEN 3) and another, unrelated Kuo film, UNBEATEN 28. It also shortens scenes showcasing Polly Shang Kwan and Tien Peng and plays up Carter Wong's role. I actually found the English dub, despite being available only on full-frame VHS, the more effective version.

This film was followed by various follow-ups that were not exactly sequels, but more like variations on a theme. These included RETURN OF THE EIGHTEEN BRONZEMEN (aka 18 BRONZEMEN 2), BLAZING TEMPLE, and, arguably the best of the group, EIGHT MASTERS, all of which are also reviewed on this site.


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