Shaolin Temple

1976 [CHINESE]


Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN


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720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.08 GB
Chinese 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 59 min
P/S 0 / 1
2 GB
Chinese 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 59 min
P/S 1 / 2

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by BrianDanaCamp10 / 10

All-Star Kung Fu Epic about the final days of Shaolin Temple

SHAOLIN TEMPLE (aka DEATH CHAMBER, 1976) is the closest Chang Cheh came to making a true kung fu epic. It tells the story of the final months of the Shaolin Temple, culminating in a raid by Manchu warriors and the burning of the temple. Previously, Chang had made several films about the aftermath of the burning of the temple, in which Fong Si Yu and the other fugitives flee the Manchus and regroup (HEROES TWO, MEN FROM THE MONASTERY, FIVE MASTERS OF DEATH, etc.),but this is the only one that actually includes the final battle and the burning of the temple. It's two hours long and boasts more Shaw Bros. Kung fu stars in one cast than any other film, with the possible exception of Chang's later SHANGHAI 13 (1983).

The film focuses on the training of an impressive group of heroes, each in a different style or specialty, all while the ruling Manchurian forces contrive to undermine the stability of Shaolin Temple. The training scenes themselves are remarkable for the cleverness and scope of the techniques employed, from leaping up with weights on one's legs and balancing on jagged rocks to stoking fires and stirring huge vats of rice to learn pole fighting. The students are all chosen on the basis of their willingness to kneel outside on the temple steps for days at a time, without eating, drinking or resting, to show their dedication.

Alexander Fu Sheng plays Fong Si Yu (spelled as Fong Sai Yuk when Jet Li played the part in 1993) and Chi Kuan-Chun plays Hu Wei Chen, both characters they'd played in earlier movies. David Chiang and Ti Lung, co-stars of many of Chang Cheh's early 1970s kung fu films, play soldiers who seek refuge in Shaolin after a disastrous loss on the battlefield. Relative newcomers Billy Tang, Lee Yi Min (MYSTERY OF CHESS BOXING) and Kuo Chui (Philip Kwok, one of the 5 Venoms) play additional students. Two other Venoms are in the cast--Chiang Sheng as a good guy, and Lu Feng as a bad guy. Additional villains include Wang Lung Wei, Wang Ching, and Ku Feng.

After lots of training scenes and assorted betrayal and intrigue, the action leads to a massive battle involving all of the cast and filmed amidst the sprawling Shaw Bros. Backlot with its fortress, temple, and bridge overlooking Clearwater Bay. An earlier film, FIVE MASTERS OF DEATH (aka FIVE SHAOLIN MASTERS, 1975),charts the activities of the surviving characters following the burning of Shaolin.

This film and SHAOLIN MARTIAL ARTS (1974),another all-star kung fu film of epic length (listed on IMDb as SHAO LIN MARTIAL ARTS),are arguably Chang Cheh's two most significant masterworks from his entire career. A trilogy of sorts is formed with the addition of FIVE MASTERS OF DEATH (1975),which takes place after the burning of Shaolin and includes many of the same actors as DEATH CHAMBER. All three films circulate on poor quality bootleg VHS tapes. If there was ever a crying need for restored prints on letter-boxed DVDs, this is it.

ADDENDUM (Feb. 10, 2008): In April 2003, this film was released under its original title, SHAOLIN TEMPLE, on Region 3 DVD in a new, restored, remastered edition, letter-boxed, in Mandarin and with English subtitles, by Celestial Pictures/IVL as part of its then-new line of Shaw Bros. Restorations. The other films in Chang Cheh's Shaolin cycle, listed above, have all been released by Celestial as well. No need to keep those bootleg tapes anymore.

Addendum #2 (July 6, 2022): I finally saw it on Blu-ray, thanks to the Arrow Video Shawscope box set. Still a masterpiece and as awe-inspiring as ever. Hard to believe my original review above--21 years ago--was based on a bootleg VHS of the English dub under the title, DEATH CHAMBER.

Reviewed by cyberhauser9 / 10

Remember the Shaolin Temple!

Chang Cheh's "Shaolin Temple" might very well be the highwater mark of the Shaw Brothers martial arts film cycle. This rousing kung fu epic boasts an amazing cast - a veritable who's who of the Shaw stable. Though the plot is fairly standard and the fight choreography is superb as usual, it is Cheh's handling of the subject matter that makes this film remarkable and enjoyable. The sense of reverence displayed for the history and traditions of the Shaolin Temple is palpable in every frame. Not unlike William Keighley's paean to the fabled Fighting 69th in that same self titled film or John Ford's salute to West Point in "The Long Gray Line," Cheh's "Shaolin Temple" is a lovingly crafted ode in that same style.

The cultural correlation I am tempted to make, is to compare the Shaolin Temple to the Alamo. Watching this film will give the same admiring and nostalgic feelings that you experienced many years ago in grade school history when you learned of the courage and sacrifice of those doomed heroes of the Alamo. At the end of the film, you too might be tempted to call out, Remember the Shaolin Temple!

Reviewed by Leofwine_draca9 / 10

A true Shaw Brothers epic

SHAOLIN TEMPLE is the ultimate Shaw Brothers epic about the life and methods of the Shaolin Temple. It's a long-winded and slowly-paced movie that's mainly concerned with training; you get at least an hour and a half of the main characters going through their various training routines with only minimal plotting to distract you. I reckon they could have cut twenty minutes out of this to make it a little snappier but nonetheless the slowness doesn't hide the sheer quality of the production and Chang Cheh's reverence for the material.

This is a film which may have the ultimate Shaw Brothers cast. Ti Lung and David Chiang are the heavyweight old timers who show up and join in with the various shenanigans at the temple, and alongside them are many of the up-and-coming stars who would go on to become the famous Venoms: Lu Feng, Phillip Kwok, and my personal favourite, Chiang Sheng, whose role starts off very small but grows as the running time progresses. Alexander Fu Sheng and Chi Kuan-Chun essay large roles both familiar for them, but are fine with it. It's a delight to just be in the company of all these big hitters, but Chang Cheh's storytelling is gripping too.

There's barely any action in the story at all right up until the climax, aside from a few sparring sequences. But the last half hour is made up of a massive battle in which the Shaolin Temple is besieged and those inside must fight it out to the death. It's incredible stuff, featuring all of the stars pairing off with skilled and dangerous opponents, and well worth the wait. For me, this is why cinema was invented: to show endless exciting spectacle and drama, all made by a cast and crew of consummate professionals. SHAOLIN TEMPLE is the bee's knees when it comes to kung fu cinema.

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