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

6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 182 users  
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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
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

Certificate:

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

20 October 1978 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The 18 Bronzemen  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

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

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User Reviews

 
Some unique ideas amid a whole lot of mundanity
20 January 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

18 Bronze Men is a film of two halves. The first half is, to put it simply, spectacular. The second half is, to be frank, agonisingly dull. If the film had continued in the vein of the first half it would have been a top film. If the first half had been like the second half it would have been appalling. As it is, the two halves cancel each other out to make 18 Bronze Men a pretty much middling movie, worth watching for fans of the concept but not something to really go out of your way to see. Basically the plot involves an orphaned child who is sent to some kind of weird martial arts monastery. The only way people can leave this place is to become so highly skilled in the martial arts that they can pass a series of deadly tests before they can pass through the door. Said tests take up the entire first half of the movie.

As the title would suggest, during these tests the boy (now a young man played by Tien Pens, accompanied by pal Carter Wong) must battle with a series of colourful and crazy Bronze Men. Some of the men are just naked guys covered in gold paint, others go the whole hog and have really bizarre, almost robotic-like looking gold plated armour complete with faces that make them look like Buddha. As well as these tough dudes, the passages and chambers of the temple in which the action takes place are full of spikes that fly out of statues, heavy doors that must be lifted, flaming "dragon" pots and more booby traps than Indiana Jones could ever hope to handle. The kung-fu action as the two heroes attempt to pass the Bronze Men makes for a truly unique viewing experience (at least until the sequels and rip-offs followed) which is a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, as soon as these guys do manage to escape, the film goes downhill. It turns into a run-of-the-mill revenge drama with a serious lack of decent action, at least until the breathtaking three-on-one fight in an old quarry at the end which comes as too little, too late. A woman appears who disguises herself as a man by hiding her long hair, thus deceiving all and sundry although her voice is still high-pitched and her face is unmistakably female! Those gullible Chinese folk, I don't know. Meanwhile the subtitles on the version I saw were often misspelt or simply wrong, which is kind of amusing but not really.

Tien Pens isn't to fault as the hero, creating a quite likable persona and proving himself in the action stakes without being really spectacular like some of his counterparts. Meanwhile the shaven-headed Carter Wong is probably the hardest-looking and toughest guy in the film, although sadly his is but a supporting role. The bad guys (sometimes dressed as ninjas) are a clichéd bunch and not very interesting either. 18 BRONZE MEN proved to be quite a disappointment in my mind, as aside from the fighting with the Bronze Men (for which it gets that extra star alone) it doesn't really offer much apart from a very old, tired plot and some routine action. However, the film proved to be so popular that a sequel was hastily cobbled together and released in the same year!


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