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China is plunged into strife as feuding warlords try to expand their power by warring over neighboring lands. Fuelled by his success on the battlefield, young and arrogant Hao Jie sneers at Shaolin's masters after killing a rival warlord on their temple grounds. But the glory comes before a fall. His own family is wiped out in an unexpected turn of events and Hao is forced to take refuge with the monks. As the civil unrest spreads and the people suffer, Hao and the Shaolin masters are forced to take a fiery stand against the evil warlords. They launch a daring plan of rescue and escape. Written by
A competent and action pack Shaolin movie It is of a moment of distinction to proclaim that Benny Chan's latest blockbuster, not only revisited the glory days of Jet Li's first ever movie, but also reunited two of the biggest Hong Kong actors ever. Mr. Andy Lau and Mr. Jackie Chan appears on screen together for the first time since 1994's Drunken Master 2. The moment they appear together, the screen goes on fire. It is a special little segment that excites HK cinema fans, including myself. However, Shaolin fails to exceed the audience expectation and the result is a competent and efficient movie that contains wonderful action sequences, but nothing more.
The real problem of director Benny Chan is not direction, but rather the criminal under usage of Fan Bing Bing and Nicholas Tse respectively. Tse for one, should be critical of his own performance. His villainous turn is neither convincing or menacing. In fact, he should take a leaf out of Mainland's actor, Liu Ye book of acting. His evil laugh is more cheesy than imagined and his overacting is far too laughable than villainous. A poor effort from someone who have improved immensely in films like Beast Stalker and Pigeon Stool. As for Fan Bing Bing, she performs wondrously in her extremely limited screen time. Her teary eye caught my attention, but with just two significant scenes, she is officially wasted.
All in all, Benny Chan improves from his previous Aaron Kwok's endeavor City Under Siege. From cheesy to competent action blockbuster, Chan perfectly casted superstar Andy Lau in a role that allows him to go through the motions. At the end of the day, this is a highly effective film for what it is. Unfortunately as with most Benny Chan's movies, the film entertains, but fails to delivers anything special or original to make a good film, great. Basically, Shaolin is a good film, but not great (Neo 2011)
I rate it 7.5/10
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