MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 682 this week

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)
"Shao Lin san shi liu fang" (original title)

R  |   |  Action, Adventure, Drama  |  June 1979 (USA)
7.8
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 9,427 users  
Reviews: 61 user | 44 critic

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 »

Director:

Writer:

0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

Free at IMDb

ON DISC

IMDb Picks: May

Visit our IMDb Picks section to see our recommendations of movies and TV shows coming out in May, sponsored by COVERGIRL.

Visit the IMDb Picks section

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 22 titles
created 20 Nov 2011
 
a list of 34 titles
created 09 Jan 2012
 
a list of 35 titles
created 17 Sep 2013
 
a list of 40 titles
created 23 Apr 2014
 
a list of 45 titles
created 11 months ago
 

Related Items

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) on IMDb 7.8/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The 36th Chamber of Shaolin.

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Action
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Gordon Liu Chia-hui reprises his famous Monk San Te role as he tries to support and protect Shaolin her Fang Shih-yu who purposely attacks corrupt Ching officials. Fights by legendary action director Liu Chia-liang are to die for.

Director: Chia-Liang Liu
Stars: Hou Hsiao, Chia-Hui Liu, Lily Li
Action
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A dying teacher instructs his final student to check on the activities of five former pupils, each of whom he taught a unique and special style of kung-fu to: The Centipede, Snake, Scorpion... See full summary »

Director: Cheh Chang
Stars: Kuo Chue, Philip Kwok, Chien Sun
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The Yang family was the loyal strong-arm of the Imperial army. But a jealous General betrays the Eilte Spearman and their father to the opposing Mongol army. After an ambush of a battle, ... See full summary »

Director: Chia-Liang Liu
Stars: Chia-Hui Liu, Sheng Fu, Lily Li
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A band of killers from an ailing kung fu and magic society are sent on a manhunt for a former member of the society, whose bad mouthing threatens it's existence.

Director: Chia-Liang Liu
Stars: Yung Chan, Tiet Wo Chu, Sheng Fu
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Director: Chun Ouyang
Stars: Chia-Hui Liu, Eagle Han, Yuet Sang Chin
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A Chinese man (Liu) marries a Japanese woman through an arranged marriage and manages to insult all of her Japanese martial arts family by issuing a challenge to her that is misinterpreted ... See full summary »

Director: Chia-Liang Liu
Stars: Chia-Hui Liu, Yuka Mizuno, Lung Chan
Action | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Two martial arts schools prepare for an important tournament.

Director: Chang-Hwa Jeong
Stars: Lieh Lo, Ping Wang, Hsiung Chao
Action | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A plump butcher student of Wong Fei Hung, Lam Sai-Wing (Sammo) gets into trouble with a rival kung-fu school known as Five Dragons and is accused of raping the head of that school's ... See full summary »

Director: Woo-Ping Yuen
Stars: Sammo Kam-Bo Hung, Tak-Hing Kwan, Biao Yuen
Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A group of bandits kidnaps the governor's son and demands their imprisoned leader to be set free in exchange.

Director: King Hu
Stars: Pei-pei Cheng, Hua Yueh, Hung Lieh Chen
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The monk Hung Wen-Ting fights against the evil priest White Lotus.

Director: Lieh Lo
Stars: Chia-Hui Liu, Lieh Lo, Lung Wei Wang
Action | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A rich man's son (Yuen Biao) believes himself to be the best kung fu fighter in Canton. Unfortunately, his father, anxious for his son's safety, bribes all his opponents to lose. After a ... See full summary »

Director: Sammo Kam-Bo Hung
Stars: Biao Yuen, Ching-Ying Lam, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A couple unite - she is fluent in the crane style of kung fu, he in tiger style. They have a son, but the boy's father is killed by the evil eunuch Bai Mei. Disguised as a girl, his mom ... See full summary »

Director: Chia-Liang Liu
Stars: Kuan Tai Chen, Lo Lieh, Wang Yu
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
...
Lieh Lo ...
Chia Yung Liu ...
Norman Chu ...
Lu Ah-cai (as Hsu Shao-Chiang)
Yu Yang ...
Hung His-kuan (as Yang Yu)
John Cheung ...
Lord Cheng (as Chang Wu-liang)
Wilson Tong ...
Tang San-yao (as Tang Wei-cheng)
Hang-Sheng Wu ...
Tung Qian-jin
Yue Wong ...
Miller Six (as Yu Wang)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Tung-Kua Ai ...
Abbot in charge of Head Chamber
Billy Chan ...
Soldier
Lung Chan ...
Abbot in charge of Staff Chamber
Shen Chan ...
Director of 'Wrists Chamber'
Szu-Chia Chen ...
Chen Yen-ping
Wah Cheung ...
Shaolin disciple
Edit

Storyline

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 devotes himself to learning the martial arts in order to seek revenge. In a short period of time he masters the deadly use of his fists, feet and palms, along with such weapons as swords, sticks, and lances. With his learning complete, he takes on the Manchus. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Kung Fu Classic That Started It All! See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

June 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

36th Chamber  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Despite the US title for the film (The Master Killer), the idea of taking a life would be abhorrent to a real Shaolin or Bhuddist monk. See more »

Quotes

San Te: I wish I had learnt kung fu instead of studying.
See more »

Connections

Followed by Return to the 36th Chamber (1980) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A young ethics student uses esoteric martial practices to foment rebellion against a foreign occupying force.
3 February 2005 | by (Oakland, CA) – See all my reviews

Perhaps cultural differences prevent understanding the significance and excellence of this film.

The original title The 36th Chamber of Shaolin refers to San Te requesting from the Head Abbot of Shaolin permission to teach Shaolin martial skills to Han Chinese to give them the tools needed to fight the occupying Manchus of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1910) who were seen as outsiders. Chinese today still generally hate the Qing and wish that dynasty never happened, as their corruption and shortsightedness in the 20th Century was perceived to have weakened the country leading to some regions being colonized by many foreign powers at the time. Hong Kong was a colony taken by the British after humiliating the Chinese in a resounding defeat in the Opium Wars.

The fact that the Hong Kong film industry made films about rebellion should be understood within this context of Hong Kong as a British Colony. Master Lau is Cantonese (as was Wong Fei-hung), so has a particular closeness to the problematic colonial relationship with the occupying British. This is why I consider this film to be an interesting example of post colonial film.

This background is essential to understanding the significance of the statement made by Master Lau in this film. It is not "just a simple revenge tale" but the revenge is the moral and ethical response (in Chinese the technical/philosophical term is "righteousness" or in English best described as "justice") for the brutal murder of his classmates, ethics teacher, and his family. In the first part of the film, Master Killer (played by Master Lau's adopted brother, Liu Chia-hui, Master Lau's real brother plays the rebellious General Yin who fights with the ax) is studying Confucian ethics. After all their friends and family are ruthlessly slaughtered for participating in a revolt against the occupying Qing (Manchu) forces, Master Killer's friend laments that it was pointless to study ethics, as it was useless for them to save their loved ones and resist the Qings. "No," Master Killer replies, "ethics has taught us to be loyal (another Confucian term) to our loved ones, so we must get revenge. If either of us survive we MUST make it to Shaolin, learn martial arts, and get revenge!"

This political message is what makes this film more than just an arbitrary action film. In the West, actioners typically don't embed violence in such a bitter context. Here, the violence holds deep meaning within the context of foreign invasion and occupation. Here it is seen as the ethical action, which is how San Te responds to his first victim of revenge (where he meets Hung Xiguan) when his victim demands, "You can't kill me you're a monk!" To which San Te replies, "Even Buddha punished evil!"

Though HK cinema had just a fraction of the budget enjoyed by the glorified garbage of most Hollywood actioners, it makes up for in dangerous political messages, unparalleled martial arts mayhem, and real martial skills of the actors. The actors in these films (like Bollywood films where the actors have to display dancing skills) actually have to do something skillful on screen as opposed to just prancing around like primadonnas. If you think the acting is overdone, this results from HK cinema arising out of Peking Opera traditions (like Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, and Corey Yuen came out of) which has a particular style of acting that has its own idiom.

Some background: This film is directed and choreographed by Master Lau (Liu Chia-liang or Lau Kar Leung). His father (and grandfather) were disciples of Butcher Wing (as depicted by Sammo Hung in The Magnificent Butcher), who was Wong Fei-hung's toughest disciple. Wong Fei-hung's style is Hung-gar, named for Hung Xiguan, (Donnie Yen plays him in the Hong Kong TV show released in the US on DVD as The Kungfu Master and Revenge of the Kungfu Master) the only disciple to survive the burning of the Shaolin Temple (there was more than one temple).

For this *legendary* story (these stories form a sort of oral history in martial arts circles, but may be doubted by Western historians, who specialize in rejecting oral histories such as the Hemmings' family oral histories of Thomas Jefferson's habitual raping of his wife's half sister, Sally Hemmings) a good movie to see is Heroes Two and its sequel Disciples of Death, starring Chen Kuan Tai (a real master of Monkey Kungfu) as Hung Xiguan and Alexander Fu Sheng (the kungfu genius who tragically died in an auto accident in his prime around 1984) as Fang Shiyu (aka Fong Sai-yuk, also played by Jet Li in two movies of the same name). This film is the beginning of all these movies as it shows the history that produced San Te the first Shaolin monk to teach outsiders.

I hope some of this history, background, and perspective will help viewers appreciate the greatness of this film. Other films Lau made or helped choreograph that I recommend is: The Deadly Duo, The Heroic Ones, Shaolin Mantis, Mad Monkey Kungfu, Executioners of Death, Heroes Two, its sequel: Disciples of Death, Five Masters of Death, Shaolin Martial Arts, Legendary Weapons of Kungfu, 8 Diagram Pole Fighters, Disciples of Master Killer (Master Killer III) 1984/5, Legend of Drunken Master (Drunken Master II), etc. Many of the movies he is involved with are worth watching, at least for their action even if sometimes the plot lines are a little weak.

This film has it all action, drama, good characters, great plot, and some of the best fight scenes put to celluloid. DON'T SLEEP ON THIS! Though I've literally seen thousands of the best films from all over the world of all different time periods, this one is one of my all-time favorites!! I hope you enjoy it even a fraction of how much I do!


60 of 69 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Why did San Ta deserve his 36th Chamber? anthony62490
nazi symbol? the_pants
top all-time martial arts flix yella_fella
Any other films by the Shaw brothers you can recommend? switchblade_sister
Make it legendary, Get it into the TOP 250 markusnilsson_v
Best Martial Arts Star rockero2
Discuss The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?