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The 18 Bronzemen (1976)

Shao Lin Si shi ba tong ren (original title)
During the Manchurian invasion of China, the son of the Ming Dynasty General takes refuge in the Shaolin Temple to learn martial arts, so that he may seek revenge for his dead father. But ... See full summary »

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(screenplay), (story) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Peng Tien ... Shao Lung
... Miss Lu (as Polly Shangkuan)
Carter Wong ... Brother Wan (as Carter Hwang)
Nan Chiang ... Brother Ta-Chi
Yuan Yi
Ping Lu
Yi Chang ... (Guest star)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bao-Liang Chen
Shu-Fang Chen
Chien Chin
Kuang Hu
Wei Hu
Fei Lung Huang
Kuan-Hsien Huang
You Min Ko ... (as Hsiao Lung)
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Storyline

During the Manchurian invasion of China, the son of the Ming Dynasty General takes refuge in the Shaolin Temple to learn martial arts, so that he may seek revenge for his dead father. But he must first endure the rigorous test of the temple's legendary 18 Bronzemen. Written by Artemis-9

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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A super death squad, they GASH you... SMASH you... MASH you.

Genres:

Action | Drama | War

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Release Date:

20 October 1978 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The 18 Bronzemen  »

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2.35 : 1
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Follows Return of the 18 Bronzemen (1976) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Classic of its genre - and maybe a little more
23 July 2006 | by See all my reviews

After having made kung-fu films for nearly a decade, Joseph Kuo at last received international attention with the release of The Mystery of chess Boxing (made famous by the Wu Tang Clan, one of whom adopted the name of the film's villain, Ghost Face Killer). I've always thought this unfortunate, first because Chess Boxing is clearly derivative of the Jackiee Chan film Snake in Eagle's Shadow (which is much better paced), and secondly because Kuo was close to the closure of his Chop-socky period and only had one more great film in him, Shaolin Temple (AKA Shaolin Temple Strikes Back).

At any rate, 18 bronzemen is without question Kuo's real masterpiece. Well-produced, lovingly photographed in a manner to pay homage to the golden era of Shaw bros. studios of the 1960s; the MeiAh DVD appears to be a mint condition restoration of the original film - it is really beautiful to look at.

This is, indeed, one of those films that demands the audience think hard before dismissing any genre movie, just because it is a genre movie. (Another example from a different genre is John Ford's Stagecoach.) Yes, the story is of your "typical" historically-oriented kung-fu flick of the 1970s. But everyone connected to the film has dedicated enormous amounts of effort to bring together a vision of this martial-arts universe that makes it not only believable, but sensually pleasing and intellectually stimulating as well. Of course we're not talking about grand drama - but film is an art of motion, and a visually beautiful film doesn't necessarily need grand drama.

However, those dramatically inclined should be aware that the actors in this film are really giving us their best - This is certainly Carter Wong's finest performance, and it may be Tien Peng's as well. The reason for such commitment is clear - the film's story carries a theme of loyalty and courage which the Chinese value very highly.

The long training sequences at the beginning of the film (which are among the best on film) are actually reflective of this theme - Shaolin Temple has a very demanding martial arts program, demanding full commitment. Dedication to training is a loyalty as well, and the film is quite clear on that point.

I suppose those unwilling to give any genre film (or at least any kung-fu film) a viewing with an open mind should be warned away. Otherwisedon't hesitate to view this film given the opportunity. And if you do find the dubbed American release out on VHS during the 1980s, be aware that the Amereican dub version is badly panned-and-scanned, using a an old runny-color print for transfer, and that a good 10 minutes of the film were hacked off (to no purpose that I can tell), leaving the plotting difficult to follow at times. But even that version can leave a positive impression of the main line of the story, the acting, and the performance of the martial-arts.

One last word: The film utilizes two child-actors at the beginning of the film; these are among the very few child-actors that I can watch without disappointment or disgust. (My sense is that this is actually due to Kuo's direction.) Bottomline: Classic of its genre - and maybe a little more.


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