You are currently displaying Big5
南北少林 (1986)
Martial Arts of Shaolin

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 03/19/2018
Summary: All action all the time

The plot, such as it is, (you killed my father, now I am going to kill you) unravels quickly when it turns out that so many fighters want to kill Lord He Suo that they get in each other’s way and are thwarted by his not very competent guards. They attempt to strike under the cover of a birthday celebration for Lord He with lion dances, martial arts demonstrations, acrobats and tumbling. Later Zhi Ming,Chao Wei and Sima Yan attempt to escape to the south along the river only to find their nemesis on what looks like a big party boat blocking their way. Both the scenes in the courtyard and on the boat are merely structures for large scale, well choreographed and beautifully executed fights with plenty of very graceful movement and very little wire work.

Jet Li is at his youthful peak of physicality and fitness as the novice monk who doesn’t quite get the Buddhist prohibition against killing anything, including your worst enemy. The training scenes at the beginning of the film are enthralling, especially one that pits the advanced students of pole fighting against the boxers, with the loser carrying water for the winners for 15 days. In contrast to this lighthearted competition, the last fight scene ends with Lord He’s head chopped off (just missed by but strongly suggested by the camera in a dazzling piece of editing) with his blood spattering our heroes.

A few action scenes go on for too long, particularly two with Jet Li in drag as a female sheepherder complete with pork buns as breasts. It probably looked hilarious on the page with Chao Wei and Sima Yan disguised as sheep in the middle of the flock but only worked for a short time on screen.

Some of the exteriors, shot in temples and on breathtaking landscapes of conical mountains, showed the advantages of shooting in the PRC.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 07/05/2008
Summary: A fantastic and worthy final installment...

Jet Li and his co-stars from the first two Shaolin Temple films reunite for one last go around, this time with Hong Kong maestro Liu Chia-Liang at the helm. Jet Li plays Zhi Ming, an orphan who was left at the northern Shaolin Temple after his parents were killed. He knows their killer, but being a monk, he must stick to the righteous path and avoid revenge. Meanwhile, a birthday celebration for the power-hungry Lord He Suo (Yue Sing-Wai) is being planned, and another group of revenge-minded fugitives, led by Sima Yan (the lovely Wong Chau-Yin), plot their final act. Zhi Ming also hears of Lord He's gathering, and decides he can wait no longer to avenge his parents, leaving the temple and traveling with a lion dance troupe to get close enough to attack. Unfortunately the plot fails, but Zhi, Sima and Chao Wei (Woo Gin-Keung), a southern Shaolin student sent to protect Sima, escape and find themselves on the run together. Although mistrusting at first, Zhi and Chao find they must work together in order to kill Lord He and his minions.

Of the Shaolin Temple trilogy, this final film is clearly the best installment. Many times, mainland offerings suffer from poor direction, no matter how spectacular the martial artists involved are. This time though, the combination of the best wushu artists that China had to offer and the expertise of Liu Chia-Liang behind the camera makes for a magical combination. The plot is a bit thin and some comedic pieces tiresome, but the choreography and set pieces more than make up for it. Jet Li really is in top form here, and he is almost too fast in his battles to keep up with. His fights with sword expert Yue Sing-Wai are fantastic, as are his training scenes with Mantis Boxing hero Yue Hoi. Throw in the brilliant Woo Gin-Keung and comely Wong Chau-Yin and you have a top-rate wushu cast. Director Liu must have had a field day coming up with interesting fights for this group, and it shows from battles on the Great Wall to the final confrontation on an Imperial Barge as it meanders down a picturesque river. It is a shame that, save for Jet Li, these martial artists could not have made more films within Hong Kong studio system, as they would have clearly been superstars with more exposure. I guess we'll have to simply enjoy their mainland filmographies imagine what might have been.


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 11/27/2004
Summary: 7/10

Maybe it's just a case of having too high expectations given the talent behind this co-production, but I've never been able to get into it as much as others apparently have. To be sure, there's some exceptional martial arts on display, but I wasn't much moved by the story, and some of the comedy is just annoying (Jet Li in a dress *again*?). I think it's the weakest of the Shaolin trilogy - yes, I even prefer KIDS FROM... :p Nice to have it in remastered widescreen glory though. The sound mix seems to be unaltered on the dvd, though in the final fight there were some fx that sounded out of place - if it is remixed, it's less blatant than on other recent releases. I found the Mandarin dub track quite annoying anyway (but the Cantonese track no better).

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 02/23/2003

Let's see. Shaolin Temple was uninspiring (to me anyway), Kids from Shaolin was pretty good, and Martial Arts of Shaolin is, as the trend would have it, even better--definitely action wise. Yue Sing Wai is the best swordsman I've ever seen, and he puts on a great show with his unique double hand sword style. At the end, SURPRISE SURPRISE, Jet Li (along with Yue Hoi) does excellent mantis boxing! The overall martial arts is very good (esp the finale and the "writing contest"), with a few exceptions when they get too long.


Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 10/18/2001
Summary: Hear hear

I second everything in the above review. Jet Li had a lot more money to play with this time around. The reported $10m budget is clearly on display, the money sometimes dripping off the screen. The locations are a feast for the eye, especially the tree-covered mountains next to the river. And once-only actress Wong Chau Yin is quite an eyeful as well.

But the martial arts is so plentiful and of such high quality that you could almost miss the scenery. The skills and the scope of the choreography is staggering. And, very unusually for an epic marital arts film, all the bit player fighters are credited at the end - something like a hundred names, complete (I think) with their styles. There are also 12 support actors listed, which I have yet to transcribe.

The main actors are credited on screen (Chinese only, of course).

True, the story couldn't be more basic. He Sao is a cardboard cut-out villain who "killed many people", and doesn't really stand up to close scrutiny as such. He tries to look menacing....

But that's splitting hairs. Don't miss this one. Slam bang action almost all the way, and terrifically entertaining.

And, last but not least, Jet Li flashes his winning smile quite often here, something he frequently neglected in many of his later films.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: betrunkene Faust
Date: 11/15/2000

As fantastic as the other two parts of this triology, "The Shaolin Temple" and "Kids from Shaolin". A true classic and simply one of the best martial arts movies.

You get almost the same cast as in part I and II: Jet Li, Hu Jianqiang, Yu Hai, Yu Chenghui, etc. So: Some of the very best martial artists China had to offer at that time. By the way, directed by Lau Kar Leung!

This movie features epic and very well choreographed fighting scenes from the beginning to the end. Many group scenes with dozens of people fighting. From empty hands to different weapons. The final is a must-see. It starts on a huge boat. Jet Li using Spear and Hu Jianqiang using sabre together against Yu Chenghui (the main villain) with his famous Shuang Shou Jian (double hand sword). It ends with Yu Hai and Jet Li both using first Tanglang Quan (Praying Mantis Boxing) and then Bagua Zhang (Eight Trigram Palm) against Yu Chenghui again. The whole final (on the boat and afterwards) is one of the best fights I have ever seen.

Also great landscapes and a very good soundtrack.

The plot is almost an exact copy of the first part. The typical revenge story for murdered parents. But who cares? It's a martial arts movie and it's one of the best.