"The Shaolin Temple" & "North and
"The Shaolin Temple" directed by Chang Hsin Yen and Xinyen Zhang.
Starring Jet Li.
Release Year: 1979
Review Date: 12/16/02
Don’t worry, these two films are not at your
local multiplex right now. The films were shown at the Four Star
here in San Francisco, an art house theater that does double
features for $7 and on Thursdays, they do kung fu double features.
“The Shaolin Temple” is a 1979 action
classic that marked the debut of Jet Li, who was all of 18 years old
when the film was released. He sure looks it here, playing a kid
named Chieh Yuan that wants to become a Shaolin Monk so that he can
master the fighting techniques being taught at the temple. The film
is basically a two-hour lesson on ten different fighting styles, and
director Chang Hsin Yen spends a lot of time with each character as
they train and show off their moves before fighting an army bent on
finding Yuan and taking down the temple.
The plot is bullshit—even if it really is
based on real events surrounding the temple’s history—but, what is
even worse is the English dub job that “The Shaolin Temple”
features; I have heard some bad dub jobs, but the English one here
in this film is so bad that it almost totally destroys the film.
People were laughing their ass off in the theater as the voice for
Li’s character yelled out “MASTER!!” over and over again near the
end of the film. Whenever this film does not feature fighting, it
But, when the story turns to fight
sequences, “The Shaolin Temple” is a great, great film. The fight
scenes in this film are l o n g—which, is perfect if you like
watching guys really go at it for a long time before being
vanquished. The stunt work is incredible here, and the lack of body
doubles means extended master shots of Li going up against various
bad guys without a cut in the action. Some of the other fighters
from the temple are more fun to watch though, especially the guy
that uses the “drunken” style...I really don’t get why using the
drunken style was such a good idea back in the time of the ancients,
but I do know that I have seen it used in enough films to believe
that guys actually tried to get good at it!
The scenery in “The Shaolin Temple” is also
a sight to behold, and the production looks ritzy for a 1979 action
film. The camerawork is mostly pretty good and the print we saw on
35mm was fantastic. The music was atrocious, though, and the
typical action kick-punch sound effects were bad, plus a little off
in their timing. (They weren’t as funny as the sound effects from
“Master of the Flying Guillotine”, which I saw earlier this
year...you need to check that one out, since that shit was just
My friend Max and I stuck around to watch
the first 40 minutes of the twin bill, “North and South Shaolin”
(part three of the trilogy of these films), but we were both pretty
tired and decided to catch that one on a day when we were both more
awake! Needless to say, though, what I saw of it was so bad that I
didn’t feel the need watch the second half of the film that night;
from the action to the fact that many of the first film’s dead
characters were back alive for part three, “North and South Shaolin”
Rating for "The Shaolin Temple": $9.00
Rating for the 40 minutes of "North and South Shaolin" that I saw:
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard