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
It's not Drunken Master, (not the Legend of Drunken Master, the original, noodge), but what is? It is a well made tale of an ousted Shaolin monk who through hardship and madness, learns the ultimately taoist T'ai Chi Chuan.
The thing I love about this film, (and you'd have to be a geek to go with this} but I love the fact that he learns T'ai Chi through his own hardships, not from a sifu (teacher), and the typical sifu or friend who dies is his friend, who, instead of dying, turns evil with power.
The entire movie is a great representation of Taosism (yin, yang, good and evil}. I don't agree that Michelle Yeoh (or Michelle Kahn at she time in the film) was not well used. She provided the idea of the easy path, drinking in this case, that is so lacking in gong fu movies. She and he both redeem themselves against the head bad guy (His character name escapes me at the time}, but there is no love interest between themselves. She's tough and troubled, he's tough and troubled and they actually help each other (read: she stops drinking to save him, he learns from her care and she helps cure his madness).
By the way, the head bad guy, (again, sorry about the name} was still played brilliantly even in dubbing. My friends and I still say "Hmmmmm" in his fey evil voice when thinking bad thoughts. It can be said it's typical Hong Kong fare... Good guy gets defeated, learns a new style of Gong Fu and defeats the bad guy, but then again, isn't that what Star Wars took 3 films to accomplish?
Anyway, my opinion of this film is tainted by the fact that I'm a taoist, but the action is top notch, nobody flies for no reason, all the characters (even the comic relief) are fleshed out. great film. not the greatest, but, it's a hell of a lot better than "Shaolin Drunken Monk" (aka, Plan 9 from the Shaolin Temple) lol.
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