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"The Shaolin Temple" is the first Chinese martial arts film to use gongfu artists instead of actors. Initially, the Japanese investors hired actors, but didn't like the results, so they hired regional and national wushu champions. Although Jet Li is the main character and his wushu is exceptional, don't underestimate the other gongfu artists; they are just as good. The film was two years in the making due to injuries the cast received doing their own stunts. The credits state that the fight choreography was done by Pan Qing Fu, but this is not so. The cast choreographed their own fight scenes and deserve the credit they've been denied.
No camera tricks. No high production value (even compared to the Hong Kong Kung Fu movies at that time). No stunt men/women. No wire. It is just pure Kung Fu. The location is real and so are the fighting. It belongs to the classic that we miss in today's Kung Fu movies. If you practice Kung Fu, you have to watch it repeatedly to learn a lot from the real masters. It is quite good for the first Kung Fu movie made in China (about 20 years ago).
If you want to see a non-stop action Kung Fu flic, this movie will be a good choice. More fighting than talking, and good fighting at that. The actors were taken from the chinese national wushu team, and these guys coordinated the fighting scenes themselves without a stunt coordinator. Many styles and weapons are used, such as drunken staff, mantis boxing, and such. The shaolin monks in the film don't seem to take their rules very seriously... they eat meat(dog meat!), drink wine and kill people...The movie was shot on location at the shaolin temple. Shaolin Temple was such a huge hit in Asia, that it made hundreds of chinese children go to the temple in hope of learning shaolin Kung Fu. Also Jet Li's first movie.
I love this movie. In fact, when I saw it, I started to love kung fu
movies. Why? If you have seen this movie you will know why. Don't ask,
just see it. Because this is the greatest kung fu movie ever made. No
"Hero", no "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", this movie is the best.
Great story, even greater fights - what else do you need? This is the
first Jet Li's movie and it made him star.
I will not tell you the story. See the movie and you will know it. If I could, I woul give "Shaolin Temple" not 10 but 20/10. Well, I can't...
But now I am wasting your time. Don't waste time with reading comments, just go and see this great movie!
Jet Li's first movie, and it set the stage for his future success. Really good kung fu, really good action, and not too many slow points. Pretty typical storyline; evil warlord kills boys father, boy escapes to Shaolin temple, improves his skill and fights a lot of people. But for a movie this old, the fighting is really done well. I'm sure that this is a pretty hard movie to come across, but if you ever get the opportunity to see it, by all means take advantage of it.
This is Jet Li's first film as a lead actor, and it doesn't disappoint. The
martial arts action is great and the scenery around the Shaolin Temple in
Luoyang, China is breathtaking. There are a variety of weapons and styles
that are showcased in the film, adding to the action. In particular, seeing
the 3 sectional staff used in combat was really cool, and there's one guy
who does flips off of his head!
It is a rare one to find but if you can find it, I recommend seeing "ShaoLin Temple".
This join venture of Hong Kong and mainland China started the 1980's boom
martial arts flicks in China.
Jet Li is the protagonist in this movie and unlike his later works, there is no stunt, no cable, no crane, no other equipment, no special effect, no fake moves, and no artistic creations. Every move is real, and the Hong Kong producers & director ingeniously employed the Chinese martial arts athletes of provincial teams and one from the national team, Jet Li, instead of ordinary actors to perform, thus giving a very realistic view.
Make sure to check this movie out if you can find it! If you can, tell me
where so I can order a copy. As Eric Yu says, the plot is rather typical,
but the fight scenes are really well thought out. The martial arts
choreography was done by Pan Qingfu, who stars in the movie as one of the
bad guys and who was also the coach of the Chinese national wushu team at
If you'd like to check out another movie with Pan Qingfu, this time playing himself, watch Iron and Silk. It's rather silly, but Master Pan is pretty cool and Mark Salzman is awfully good at wushu for a white guy.
The Tang Emperor is betrayed by one of his own generals, who installed
himself as the new Emperor of the eastern region. The population of
this area are the ones to suffer, with many forced into slavery to work
at his demand. Chieh Yuan and his father are two such men but, one day
Chieh and his father fight back and, although the two bravely hold off
the guards, his father is killed as he instructs Chieh to flee to fight
another day. Near-death, Chieh finds himself at a Shaolin monastery
where he is taken in and nursed back to health. He takes up the
teachings of the monks in particular the martial arts and prepares
for the day he will meet his father's killer. In the meantime though,
he has to worry about the many rules that his new life imposes on him.
On some levels this film is a terrible mess of a thing. The plot is quite basic and the writers really need to hit three stages of narrative which are 1) events before the monastery, 2) events at the monastery and 3) events around the conflict that closes out stage (1). These are all in place but it is up to them how they fill out these three stages and, in this case, it must be said the answer is "not that well". We get lots of things happening but not of them are that good. Chieh manages to kill a dog (which belongs to the daughter of his master), eat meat (and get the others eating meat) and do all manner of things that kinda go against the whole Buddhist monk vibe that he had been working on. The film has these come up and be laughed off by the others and after a while it just feels a bit weird. I'm not defending Buddha here and if these bits had been funny or engaging then I would not have cared one bit but, as it is, they don't work and even as time filler they are not that worth while.
In reality though, this doesn't matter because nobody has come to this film for the plot so much as they have to see Jet Li making his film debut and jumping right into film success. And jump he does (I'm not want to avoid rubbish linking puns) as almost all of the action in this film is impressive and engaging. Some of it is quite soft in regards the danger faced by our characters whereas some is pretty tough but whether it is a training demonstration or the final montage of fights, it is really impressive on physical and technical levels. It also helps that it is well short. Having just watched Transporter 3 recently, Shaolin Si comes over as a breath of fresh air in how it is willing to put the camera down and shoot action sequences where each take is longer than (gasp) 1 second and (brace yourselves) we get several moves in each take (no!). This lets us see that the cast can do their stuff and you can see why Li became a massive name because he is unbelievably skilled and has great physical control heck I've started to make a little grunting noise every time I stand up whereas he seems to do the impossible in his stride. Looking back (and even then) Li does get all the attention but everyone else is just as good, with lots of impressive moves. Not everyone has as good a screen presence (the daughter being a bit weak for example) but when it comes to the action everyone performs.
Shaolin Si doesn't have the greatest script and, by extension, the performances and also how much the viewer will care about the characters are also weakened. However in regards simple physical ability of those involved in the making it is very engaging indeed. There are consistent and enjoyable scenes of martial arts action a couple stand out above the rest but all of them are impressive and fun to watch. Ignore the narrative but definitely stay for the action.
This is a very cool movie, I loved every second of it. Jet Li, in his
first film, displays some of his most brilliant fighting moves and
skill. It's no wonder this flick made him a superstar and martial arts
The acting is quite alright, though the plot, which really no one cares about, is actually quite interesting.
All of the fights were totally massive and stylish, the pace was excellent. The weapons fight between Jet and the main bad guy general dude is awesome. Jet moves unbelievably fast in this bout and they repeat this excellent performance in the final battle. Jet shows true skill, just like the rest of the cast here.
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