|Index||9 reviews in total|
While Hong Kong created most of the kung fu films people think about
when the genre is discussed, Taiwan had a lively industry churning out
cheaper but frequently entertaining kung fu movies. While Hong Kong
could boast higher production values, the Taiwanese often countered
with more action and this film is a great example.
Wandering kung fu student, searching for a teacher who he can't beat up, hooks up with an eccentric Shaolin Temple monk who is an alcoholic and meat eater. The student gets embroiled in the Temple's fight with an ex-disciple, a covert Lama monk, who stole the secret Shaolin fighting manual 12 years earlier. The Lama monk returns and attacks the temple for sheltering a beautiful girl he's trying to kill or marry. There a comedic monk involved also.
OK, nothing unusual plot wise here. There's little in the way of character development at all. We never learn much about the hero besides his search for a teacher. The Shaolin monk is a stock eccentric you've seen in HK films like Shaolin Drunkard. The comedic monk is a stock rascal and the villain is exactly what you would expect from this kind of film. what's great about this film and lifts it above the hundreds of others? First of all the fights are frequent, long and very well done considering the low budget. The actors are almost all excellent martial artists and acrobats. The beautiful girl is the weakest in the cast. The choreography is very complex and ambitious. There are times that it seems the actors are missing movements but it keeps moving along at such a fast pace, the mistakes are soon forgotten. Second, there's quite a bit of Buddhist philosophy in the script and that really lifts the whole film up. It seems that the film was actually shot in a real Buddhist temple and there are actual monks as extras. This temple also shows up in the raucous film "Ninja, the Final Duel".
The scene with the Shaolin monk fighting while eating a chicken is great although the "bad foot" technique he uses is quite disgusting. Most of the monks in this film have insane eyebrows. I've never seen anyone with eyebrow hair like that. And what's with the Shaolin/ Lama feud? Where did that come from and why are there enough films about it that it could be considered a sub-genre?
Unfortunately the only version available is a horrible TV print with Australian dubbing. This makes some of the action tough to watch. Do these films still exist in Taiwan?
It's fun and if a better print ever shows up I'll give it an 8.
The b-grade kungfu movies are a genre on their own. What makes this one stand above is the fact it has a great story and even better fighting scenes. Pretty hard to find these days but well worth watching if you enjoy this type of movie.
SHAOLIN VS LAMA is a fabulous kung-fu film, complete with an excellent plot involving a stolen Shaolin manuscript detailing all the 72 techniques. The thief, a Tibetan Lama masquerading as a Shaolin student, becomes a master fighter and criminal, gaining power through murder and manipuilation of the fighting clans. A young street fighter, seeking higher knowledge of
kung-fu by challenging any teaching master he meets, in order to find a master he cannot defeat, is drawn to the Shaolin temple and put at odds with the murderous Tibetan monks.
In rapid, but logical succession, a series of fights occur, escalating to operatic heights. The villain is a vicious, unstoppable monster; the young hero is loyal and determined. There are no extraneous kung-fu fight scenes, everything plot-wise is tight and staccato, with each confrontation revealing volumes of character. As in the best of the genre, the fighters, who have conditioned their bodies to absorb and deliver incredible amounts of punishment, eventually turn out to be human in two distinct ways: upon finding redemption, and just before death. An excellent film.
Out of the classic martial arts movies that are actually well made and
competently plotted, this has gotta have the highest kung
fu-to-chatting ratio. It's only 90 minutes, but halfway through there
are already like 10 great fight scenes, with no sign of slowing down.
That's not my only criteria, I'm not one of those "fast forward to the
fights" type guys-- good action is nothing without something in the
story to "grab onto" and care about, and that's where Shaolin vs Lama
succeeds: it matches crisp, intricate choreography with a well paced
plot full of charming characters, and as a bonus there's a LOT of
fighting. And there's a LOT going on in said fights. It can be hard to
keep up; different forms and animal shapes and come and go without
being emphasized for extended periods of time like in a lot of these
movies, snake first one second, drunken boxing the next, some strange
locks the next. There are some questionable decisions, like slight
undercranking here and there, and how the characters projectile vomit
when hit particularly hard, but hey.
The story's basic, but it's the little nuances that animate it, like how the villain spitefully refers to his ex-master (against whom he has sworn revenge) by title, perhaps with a bit of honesty. Or the protagonist's surprisingly believable character arc from an ambitious punk to a pious bald monk. Or how the fall guy sidekick manages to endear himself to the audience as subtly cheeky/goofy without the film ever really descending into painful broad Canto-comedy. And then there's the lazy, jaded Shaolin monk who drinks all day and has anger problems, which is pretty much my favorite character archetype ever. Also, grandiose locations and appropriate casting imbue the movie with a sense of authenticity (despite the dimestore outfits), as a sharp contrast to Tso Nam Lee's other films, which have a somewhat childish "play-acting" feel to them.
As a bonus, it's got one of the best dubs ever, full of long awkward pauses and lines like: "for someone who's a shaolin monk, your kung-fu's really lousy!" (with every syllable emphasized like a drumbeat).
I've red many favourable reviews for Shaolin vs. Lama here and on
different Kung Fu-movie forums and I have been recommended to see it
when asking for good independent flicks that can compete with the Shaw
Brothers and Golven Harvest productions of that era. Unfortunately, I'm
vastly disappointed, but not to the point where I wouldn't watch it
several times again, simply because it's so entertaining.
The English dub is horribly funny, and provides us with some nonsensical dialogue and Australian-sounding voice actors, which adds tons to it's charm. If you like this type of low-budget style dubbed Kung Fu movies, you'll be sure to get lots of laughs out of this one as well. The outrageous characters, especially the Shaolin and Lama monks with the longest white eyebrows you'll ever see and crazy hairstyles don't make the movie any less worth watching, trust me.
The problem I have is the fighting, which I was told would be amazing. I can easily say, it's not. It's very rough, stiff and repetitive, especially if you compare to contemporary Kung Fu movies from Lau Gar-Leung and The Venom Mob. However, there's a lot of talent involved, and many moves and blows are excellently executed. The action is plenty and has a certain cartoonish feeling about it, which together with the obsessive overuse of undercranking to speed up the already wacky choreography, makes the Kung Fu very watchable and entertaining. Bare in mind though that it's not good fighting per se. If you want to see really good fighting in an independent Kung Fu movie, look for classics like: 7 STEPS OF KUNG FU, HELL'Z WINDSTAFF, 7 GRANDMASTERS, DAGGERS 8, and SNAKE DEADLY ACT. I sincerely recommend Shaolin vs. Lama, mostly since in all it's cheesy glory, it's a good way to spend an hour and a half any given day.
This is without a doubt one of the best martial movies ever.If you like Kung-fu movies purely for the kung-fu you'll love this movie.If you love a great kung-fu story you'll love this movie as well.I have to agree with another reviewer this movie is really tough to get sick of and you could easily find yourself watching it once a week if not more.
A very enjoyable film to say the least. Certainly not the best Hong Kong
to offer, but it is still very good. I especially like the plot of the
story. It's nice to a deviation from the typical kung fu movie, of "you
killed my brother, now I must avenge him" or the "I'm the best there is,
I'm just going to get better."
I think the best overview of this movie was written by "robotman-2." He very accurately described the main points of the movie, especially the ending where he said "...(The evil monk) eventually turn(s) out to be human in two distinct ways: upon finding redemption, and just before death..." What I think he was trying to say about the movie was: The evil character found redemption just before his death, thus proving him human. The last line spoken by the evil monk was a great line. He said "I must die in order to prove Buddha's existence." This is really great, because earlier on in the movie, one of Buddha's teachings was questioned when a Shaolin monk asked why the Shaolin sect let evil exist, if it went against the teachings of Buddha. And the last line of the bad guy wraps up this question. Terrific!
The dubbing of the movie was slightly Australian influenced, and you could hear it in the voices. A little lacking in emotion at some points, but still very well done. The fight scenes were also well worth watching, especially the very first one between the hero and his Shaolin master before the monk would officially take him as a pupil. It was really goofy to watch a guy trying to learn kung fu from a monk master who wants to eat a whole chicken. Pretty cool stuff.
I really enjoyed the succession of this movie. Everything seemed to fall into place, right down to the last utterance of the bad guy right before he committed suicide. Only a slight hinderance with the dubbing leaves this movie a 6:10. I only give it a 6 because there are some movies out there that kick the pants off of this movie, but are of a different genre. That is why it is hard to give this movie only a 6. Good day gentlemen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***Lots of spoilers!*** Shaolin vs Lama is a highly regarded old school
kung fu flick with iconic dialogue sampled by musicians such as Depth
Charge and Wu Tang Clan. It features use of the 'buddha finger' and a
training technique where our hero punches circular holes in scrolls
hanging from the ceiling, (with just one knuckle). The story revolves
around a talented kung fu practitioner who is looking for someone
better than him - this gives rise to some fights early on as he beats
up a teacher who is scamming folk with his rubbish techniques.
Apparently the hero has never heard of the shaolin temple as he meets a
mischievous young monk who tries to help him get tuition from the
master, (an incorrigible abbot who loves to drink, eat and fight).
Cue lots of slapstick as the lazy abbot swoops down from treetops to fight our hero while eating a chicken, and using his horrible 'bad foot' technique. Things get more serious when it is revealed that a Tibetan lama infiltrated the Shaolin temple and stole their kung fu manual, and is now trying to destroy the Shaolin (although quite why, is never explained, especially as both are Buddhist). Our hero eventually becomes a monk and swears to avenge the death of some girl or other he meets, as well as avenging the murder of the crazy abbot. He can't beat the villain until he learns 'buddha finger' technique which finally defeats the villain, who, in one of the more memorable conclusions to kung fu cinema, bashes in his own head while shouting "I.. am... the devil! I must die... to prove that Buddha exists..." I don't really understand the meaning behind this, but our hero learns that, in the end, mercy is better than revenge "I've learned to show mercy, to the end... even the wicked man...we don't kill him; that is our rule." And that's a nice bit of character progression, driven by Buddhism. I think the action scenes must be highly regarded, because to be honest the story and characters are not particularly amazing.
This film has good fast fighting as well as i good storyline which is rare for Kungfu films. The dubbing is really good. Ive watched this film over and over again and i've never got bored of this film. I have had this film for around 4 years and even to this day I regularly watch this film with my friends. All of the fight scenes in this film are really excellent, and i reccomend this film to anyone who is interested the Martial Arts.
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