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Archive for April 25th, 2012

San Te is a student that’s caught up in the conflict between the Han rebels and the controlling Manchu government. Seeing the common people treated badly and oppressed makes San Te angry and this grows when he witnesses a murder of an innocent person. After consulting with his teacher, he chooses to join the rebellion who hope to topple the Manchu government. However when they discover that San Te and his students have sided with the rebels they are all rounded up and his family is murdered. San Te and his friend flee their town and decide to head to the Shaolin Temple to learn kung fu in the hope that when are fully trained they can come back and defend the town.  However they are pursued and San Te’s friend is killed. San Te is himself injured in his leg but manages to crawl to a nearby village where he collapses. The villagers manage to get him inside a large barrel which is bound to the Shaolin Temple by the monks. Once inside the temple itself he’s discovered inside the barrel. The monks nurse him back to help but the head monk of the temple wants him to leave as he’s an outsider. He asks if he can join them. For 6 months all he does is sweep the temple grounds. In the end he grows tired of this and ask if he can learn kung fu. He is asked which one of the 35 chambers he would like to start his kung fu training. He replies at the top – the 35th chamber. Unfortunately he is completely humiliated so he begs to start at the very bottom at the 1st chamber so he can work his way up. Each chamber gives San Te something for him to learn as his knowledge of Shaolin grows. The training is tough and involves using his brains as well as brawn to clear the chambers. Many years pass and San Te is seen to be progressing at a fast pace compared to the other students. As his training comes to an end, San Te is officially exiled from the Shaolin Temple so that he can help his own people against the tyrannical Manchu government. He plans to teach the local people some kung fu. His antics soon bring him to the attention of General Tien Ta, the Manchu Governor who wants San Te dead.

You may be a person that loves martial arts movies but you can’t call yourself a proper fan until you’ve seen this classic Shaw Brothers movie. You might have even heard about the movie but not bothered to take any notice of it. If you’ve thought why should I bother with those cheesy HK 70’s martial arts movies then shame on you as you’re missing out on some sensational stuff and in this one of the very best martial arts movie you’ll ever see. 36th Chamber of Shaolin was the movie that made martial arts movies popular again in Hong Kong which had been on the wane since the death of Bruce Lee. Fans of the genre would have a new hero to worship in the brilliant Gordon Liu and this was the movie that would thrust him into the limelight and establish him as one of the greatest martial artists of all time. He delivers a stellar performance as San Te. It’s a simple enough tale of a young man learning and maturing into a grand master of kung fu.

This may be a kung fu movie and yes, there are some fights along the way but that’s not the main attraction of the movie. It’s the brilliant training sequences we witness inside the Shaolin Temple that stand out more than anything such as the water crossing scenes for example. San Te is an impetuous young man when he starts his training and gradually we see a change occur in him. He becomes more disciplined and is determined to overcome each obstacle he faces. You can feel his pain as he struggles to master each new chamber. Once San Te is exiled from the temple that’s when we get to witness some amazing fights especially the climatic one with General Tien Ta as he battles him with his own invention – a three section staff.

36th Chamber Of Shaolin is a very special movie which has drama, an excellent plot, great characters and some incredible martial arts fights. To put it simply – don’t miss out on it. It might be the ultimate kung fu movie. It really is that good. Highly recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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