Two friends, ex Shaolin monks, part ways as they brush with the ongoing rebellion against the government. The ambitious one rises up to be a powerful military commander, while his betrayed friend resorts to learn the calm ways of Tai Chi.
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Junbao (Jet Li) is a monk who grows up in a Shaolin temple with his friend Tienbao. Their friendly competitions to see who is stronger frequently gets them into trouble. At a competition for promotion to a higher place in Shaolin, Tienbao almost kills another student for cheating and using a concealed weapon. After a disagreement with a master, who refuses to believe Tienbao, a fight erupts which results in Junbao and Tienbao being expelled from the temple. Having lived in a temple their entire lives, they have trouble adapting to the outside world and eventually gets mixed up with local rebels who frequently steal from a corrupt governor and give the proceeds back to the poor. Tienbao, who was always very ambitious and competitive, gets tired and disillusioned by their new lifestyle, accepts an offer by the governor to join his army. The two childhood friends reluctantly decide to go their separate ways. Seeing an opportunity to secure a promotion in the army, Tienbao sets a trap for... Written by
This movie is breathtaking!! If you like martial arts, and even a little comedy, watch this Yuen Woo Ping classic.
The opening Tai Chi training scene is so well done (see how everyone's movements are in sync) and sets the standard for the film. Yuen Woo's gift for choreography is evident throughout as weapons used include swords, spears, staffs, and tables too! The Shaolin "Luo Han Pole" formation scene must be watched in slo-mo to really appreciate it.
Jet does an awesome job as Junbao and his martial arts is amazing. More surprising is Michelle Yeoh who's incredible in every scene she's in. Her movements are so fluid, yet also graceful. From the spinning table scene fight to battling an army of soldiers, Yeoh really demonstrates her fighting prowess and acting ability as well.
Being that this was the first Jet Li film I've seen, it's one of my all-time favorites. It made me realize that incredible movies like this do exist!
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