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Shaolin Mantis (Orig. Tang lang) is a 1978 Shaw Brothers film directed by Lau Kar-leung. Starring David Chiang and Liu Chia Hui. Shaolin Mantis tells the story of a man who learns martial arts by observing a praying mantis.
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This is a small wonder from the canon of Liu Chia Liang. The martial arts are absolutely excellent and the only reason that this isn't as well known as 36th Chamber or Dirty Ho is the story. The film is about three kung fu schools in Guangdong and the efforts of the "evil" school to disrupt and discredit the two "good" schools. A lot of yelling and fighting goes on but no-one is killed. The film is lighthearted with little of the seriousness of 36th Chamber or other films. Also, the film sort of stops with out much of a resolution.
The director appears at the beginning to give the audience a little lesson about the etiquette of Lion Dancing. The rest of the film he spends behind the camera directing some of the most chaotic fight scenes I've seen. The scene in the theater is unbelievable at times. There is so much going on it's hard to focus. Liu Chia Hui, Kara Hui and Wang Lung Wei dominate the film with their martial skills. Usually playing a villain, Wang Lung Wei is great as a northern Chinese Kung Fu master who is being used by the bad kung fu school. His intensity is unusual among his cohorts at the Shaw Bros. studios. It shows that he was an actual kung fu master outside the movie set.
A slow start with a lion dance is the only real problem. After that, it's a great kung fu film. The final dual in an alley is an absolute classic.
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