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少林與武當 (1983)
Shaolin and Wu Tang

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 11/29/2010

OK, so the sister of the Manchu prince, the one who wants to rule the province by controlling all kung fu, is secretly placed in a prison for criminally insane women. When the young leader of Wu Tang is thrown into that prison after being framed for killing the Wu Tang master she teaches him the secrets of Shaolin kung fu which she learns during very brief encounters with the young leader of Shaolin when he arrives with meals for the inmates. The Shaolin and Wu Tang schools are bitter rivals but the young leaders have been friends since childhood and while each of them reveres his school's traditions neither wants to injure the other. The scenes with the sister of the Manchu prince learning the Shaolin moves at a barred portcullis defy description--at least my ability to describe--but are among the strangest ways of learning kung fu shown in Hong Kong movies--and that covers a lot of strangeness.

I bring this up because this episode could have been depicted in fifty pages by John Le Carre who would have made it not only make sense but seem inevitable. In "Shaolin and Wu Tang" it is stunningly incomprehensible. However kung fu movies aren't plot driven--the plot is often just there to fill the time between training sequences and fights. This was never more the case than in "Shaolin and Wu Tang."

The action scenes, both general melees involving platoons of fighters doing battle and also individual combat between the principals, are extraordinary. Gordon Liu and Johnny Wang Lung-Wei fought each other in 18 films over the years--this was their fourteenth collaboration--and were a great combination. There are a lot of training scenes, particularly when Chun Kit convinces the abbot to allow him to join Shaolin monastery. While the non-aggressive use of kung fu is insisted upon as part of Chun becoming a novice it is quickly forgotten when a challenge is sent to Shaolin for its best fighter to face the best Wu Tang fighter to determine which school is better.

This is part of an evil plan by the evil prince to eliminate the best martial artists while learning their secrets so that he would be the arbiter of all combat arts in the area he ruled. He is also trying to get the book showing the seven secret sword movements of Wu Tang. There is always a book, of course, something so arcane that only one copy exists and no one knows who has it. If Wikileaks were around then...

"Shaolin and Wu Tang" didn't demand much acting from the cast. Wang Lung-Wei was his usual totally evil self, a bad guy who, in the tradition of kung fu movie villains, has the finest martial arts skills. This creates a huge hole in the plot, ignored by everyone. If the prince is already the best why does he have to pick up the Shaolin and Wu Tang arts? The answer if that it is what evil princes do, along with betraying their honor and their family plus laughing maliciously when he hurts someone.

This is a good movie for fans of all action all the time or of any of its principals.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/17/2005

A corrupt governor (Wang) wants to control all of the kung fu in his province, so he sets out to put the Shaolin and Wu Tang clans against each other via a tournament pitting the two top fighters (Liu and Cheng) versus one another.

The plot here is basically your standard kung fu revenge stuff, as the governor tries to up the ante by killing off various members of both clans. However, Shaolin & Wu Tang is elevated beyond many similar films on the strength of its fight sequences. Gordon Liu was dismayed by having to make the sequel to his hit 36th Chamber of Shaolin a comedy, and created this movie as the true spiritual successor -- if not outright sequel -- to the original film. Like 36th Chamber, a good portion of the running time is dedicated to training sequences. While not as original or effective as the first movie, the ones featured here are still pretty interesting to watch.

Conversely, the amount of time dedicated to fights -- which was relatively small in 36th Chamber -- is pumped up here. The film kicks off with an interesting exhibition of martial arts skills -- almost like a dance number -- and rarely lets up from there. Of particular note is a brawl between Cheng/Liu and a platoon of troops that must have provided at least some inspiration for the huge melee featured in Yuen Woo-Ping's Tai Chi Master, a gag where the men train the females while fighting (later used in Romeo Must Die), and of course, the final confrontation where Liu and Cheng team up to take on Wang in an amazing display of kung fu skills -- all with very little wirework.

I used to not be a very big fan of these kinds of movies, but the more I see the better examples of the genre like this film, the more that I am liking them. I would guess that even if you're not a big old-school fan you would at the least enjoy the fights, and if you are a fan of the genre and haven't yet seen this movie, then you're missing out.

[review from]

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 07/02/2002
Summary: Pretty good

I have got to say, that although I too (as pjshimmer) liked a lot of Adam Cheng’s works, this film is an utter waste of his and others talents. However, saying that, I found Gordon Lui a lot more enjoyable in this film than most of his (he is one of the people I can’t stand in all honesty, no talent but Kung Fu), and it is unusual to see him take the part of a joker more than a fighter. That said, there is a lot of comedy to be found in this Kung Fu film, but by ’83 there were very few serious films being made, since comedy was dominating HK cinema.

Surprisingly also I found the story to be not as bad as the other reviewers made it out to be, it’s certainly nothing special, but a lot better than most. Most of the fights are very good, and don’t look nearly as cheap as the actual film quality itself. Then again, I have an old VHS version of the film, so there might be better quality releases around. Nevertheless, there are plenty better Kung Fu films around better than this, but for a Gordon Lui film, it’s certainly not bad.

Worth nothing, if you look very carefully you will see a young Elvis Tsui, in one of his earliest film parts – the earliest I think I have seen him.


Reviewed by: nomoretitanic
Date: 06/04/2001
Summary: Great Opening and Ending fights

I never knew there was an opening fight 'cause when I bought this movie the tape wasn't rewound all the way so I thought what I saw was the beginning. I never knew Adam Cheng knew kungfu, always thought he was some kinda ageless Chinese Sean Connery who had a lot of charm and that was it. So I guess the movie surprised me a bit. The pacing, the dialogue and the storyline all reminded me of pulp kungfu novels, grade-b kungfu novels of course, but they were eye candies nonetheless. Academically it covered all of its grounds--it had its plot development, its character development, its tensions...etc. but when they ended up on screen they just looked really mediocre and no one gave a damn.

Adam Cheng, that villain dude, and Gordon Liu had all the good fight scenes--GREAT fight scenes. The opening sequence was pretty good too even though it had nothing to do with anything and I didn't know who those guys were. Any scene, or even any sequence that didn't involve them were pretty unwatchable. The women in this movie were some of the worst martial artists, most ungraceful ones at least, ever to be featured in movies like this one. They spoiled a good part of the movie, along with the cheesy lines.

The very end of the movie actually had this lady lecturing her brother about how martial artists should come together and combine forces because that was what martial arts were all about. Then the last shot was one of the most puzzling thing I had ever seen in my life. What did it mean? Those two people leaping away like that?

Email me if you know the answer, please.

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 06/04/2001
Summary: some brilliant fights; others not so brilliant

Having seen my favorite actor Adam Cheng in several movies made in the early 80s, I am now a firm believer that it is a mistake to place him in movies. Growing up, Adam Cheng has always been my wuxia hero, starring in most classic TV series of the era. I could not remember one flaw he displayed. However, when seeing him in a movie, the worst happens - he fights in old school style! (Which is something he never does on TV) Well, my opinion of Adam has gone from perfection to mediocore, but nevertheless he will have a special place in my book.

On to the movie. It's got a flawed story and some cheap humor. The fights are generally quite good, with some negative exceptions when Adam Cheng takes over. The opening and finale sequences are especially top-notch. But again, the story is somewhat disappointing. You can just sit there and have the same comment over and over, "That would never have been possible!" And indeed, some of the twist and turns in the plot were way overexagerated.


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Billed as Gordon Liu's directorial debut, it cant be missed really.The evil Wang Lung Wei (no ...really?) wants to discover the secret of the Wu-Tang Sword style. In order to learn it he contrives to set two friends ( Gordon Liu and Adam Cheng ) against each other so he can watch the style be revealed. The opening sequence is pure dynamite ...very similar to 'Dirty Ho', what we see is a summary sequence revealing the ideas and styles of the film. A Wu-Tang sword man battles a group of shaolin monks in a blinding piece of choreography. It is worth just watching these 7 minutes on their own if you can. This was the first pre-1985 'Shaw school' kung-fu movie that i managed to get in cantonese with subtitles, the evil Warner Bros have dubbed most available in the UK. It is a good film but Gordon, as a director, cant quite sustain the brilliance of the opening for the entire film.

[Reviewed by Andrew Best]