5.9/10
44
4 user 3 critic

Ba bai luo han (1985)

An orphan named Zhixing is trained in martial arts at Baoguo Temple in the Kingdom of Jin.

Director:

Hsing-Lai Wang (as Singloy Wang)

Writer:

Hsi Chen (screenplay)
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Cast

Credited cast:
Yaping An Yaping An ... (as Au-ping An)
Hongping Gao Hongping Gao ... Zhao Xiang
Fu-sheng Ho Fu-sheng Ho
Te-cheng Li Te-cheng Li
Zhenling Liu Zhenling Liu ... Zhixing
Huanyou Luo Huanyou Luo
Chi-kuang Sun Chi-kuang Sun
Xinwu Wang Xinwu Wang
Chi Wah Wong Chi Wah Wong
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Storyline

An orphan named Zhixing is trained in martial arts at Baoguo Temple in the Kingdom of Jin.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Action

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

China | Hong Kong

Language:

Mandarin

Release Date:

13 June 1985 (Hong Kong) See more »

Also Known As:

Arhats in Fury See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Alternate Versions

The UK version had to be cut in 2006 because eight seconds of cruelty to animals contravened the Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act 1937. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Remarkable mixture of HK kung fu and Mainland propaganda
18 June 2006 | by ChungMoSee all my reviews

A strange hybrid. The film has the HK action intensity and gore of a Shaw Bros. film from the 1970's and the theatricality of old style Communist propaganda. Plus there's the abstract visual sensibility of the Mainland Chinese New Wave cinema that you rarely ever see in a martial art film. Does it all work together? Well...no.

The story of novice monk Zhixing is set against a larger story dealing with the interaction of the Szechuan Shaolin temple and the JIn invasion. The Jins came from the same area that the Manchus later came from so they are similar type of villain for films like this one. The senior monks are locked into a set of strict rules thats prevents them from responding to the violence of the Jins. In fact the monks prefer to horribly punish the other monks who contemplate resisting the invaders. Zhixing and his teacher are rebels of sorts and we first see them in horrible condition after being sent on a journey in punishment for breaking the rules. Zhixing and his master witness a JIn invasion of a mining village. Zhixing attacks the Jin attempting to prevent a cruel atrocity. This brings him to the attention of the noble Lin clan who are fighting the JIn with an army of common people (stock propaganda characters). In particular to the attention of a beautiful fighting woman. Of course, Zhixing is a noble person and his breaking of the rules is to save innocents from the barbarism of the invaders but this is meaningless to the head monk who sentences Zhixing to cruel punishments. While some of the other senior abbots protest, they quickly back down and leave our hero and his master to their punishment.

I usually don't give away this much info about a film's plot but I thought that this is important in discussing the political motives behind the story. One of Mao Zedong's peeves was how the religious establishment supported the cruelties of the ruling class either thru outright collaboration or by retreating into inaction. Clearly the "rules" of the Shaolin temple in this movie were being used by the fearful senior monks to protect themselves and ignore the plight of the people. There's an interesting concept stuck in the film.

Unfortunately, stuck it remains. The film is shot in high propaganda style which doesn't allow for nuanced characters or anything but obvious plot development. The villains are all lurid and wide-eyed. They are only one step away from a Peking Opera production. The photography is great at times, some of the landscapes are almost abstractly beautiful but the camera-work during the fight scenes isn't very good. The film lurches from gritty realism to completely posed phoniness. Some of the action clearly shows the influence of the HK producers which isn't bad but the Wu Shu trained performers and choreographers weren't ready for it. The story is very uneven with sudden changes and confusing connections. There is some disturbing abuse of birds in the film. A living crow is ripped in two (shades of "Fistfull of Talons') and some stunt men roll around pretending that they being attacked by large live vultures that are tied to them. That vulture scene is from a very strange, unexplained moment in the middle of the film when Zhixing suddenly gains Tarzan-like powers and summons wildlife to attack the Jin. He never repeats the feat.

So what's good about all this? The action is fast paced and great when it comes. Ignore some of the attempts to imitate HK films of the time with wire work. When these performers just jump at each other with weapons swinging at full speed you'll be astounded. The settings are very interesting as few films set in Szechuan province are actually filmed there.

Interesting, try it.


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