Chaotically filmed (and edited), but action-packed
A product of the Shaolin craze inspired by the release of "The Shaolin Temple" (mainland China's first martial arts movie) in 1982, this film occasionally borders on incomprehensibility due to the way it's edited, but if you're looking for tons of action you won't be disappointed. "Shaolin Temple" alums Ding Lan, Zhang Jianwen and Yan Dihua join an otherwise undistinguished cast in this tale of beleaguered carnival performers who eventually turn to their brother--a novice monk at Shaolin--for assistance in defeating the man who murdered their father. Here and there you'll see a blow falling short, but this has more to do with the occasionally shaky camera work than the choreography; most of the fighting is very watchable, and features exciting empty-hand and weapons clashes in equal measure. "The Shaolin Brothers" clocks in at just under eighty minutes, and it's obvious from the brief running time and the choppiness of the first quarter of the film that it was subjected to a hasty, ham-fisted editing job. Apparently this is the only available version of the movie, because the Tai Seng DVD uses the same scratchy, chopped-up print that Ocean Shores Video used in the '80s. This is unfortunate, but you still won't have too much trouble following the story and most of the fighting takes place later in the film, anyhow. In many respects this is a subpar production (the first thing you'll notice is that the English dubbing is exceptionally poor) but, as I've said before, no one really watches these films in the expectation of seeing anything more than a lot of well-choreographed action...and "The Shaolin Brothers" has action in spades.
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