Best Ever Kung Fu Movie: The 36th Chamber of Shaolin
What is The 36th Chamber of Shaolin?
A kung fu movie with a star so spectacularly good (Gordon Liu) that he needed no wires and green screens;
A director (Liu Chia-Liang) with a true talent for character development and story telling, so uncommon in kung fu fare;
A story crafted with great care brought to life by gorgeous cinematography that pulled the viewers unobtrusively, so unlike much of the kung fu genre; and
Fight scenes so expertly choreographed and flawlessly performed, that they stand the test of time.
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) tells the fictionalized story of San Te, an 18th century rebel who sought asylum at the temple and was trained by the monks.
The training scenes in the temple are a major highlight: always terrific and occasionally humorous. there have been many imitators, but none has met the high bar set by The 36th Chamber.
For anyone interested in martial arts films, or Shaolin kung fu, this movie is a must see.
Here is the scene showing some of San Te’s training for strength, balance and endurance:
The movie was earlier released on DVD under the title Shaolin Master Killer. It is now available on Blu Ray ($10 on Amazon) under its original title. Unfortunately, neither Netflix or Amazon streams them, but you may find it elsewhere with a simple search.
The 36th Chamber: Sequels
The movie was followed up by two sequels, Return to the 36th Chamber (1980) and Disciples of the 36th Chamber (1982).
Gordon Liu returned as San Te in one, and as a different (but main) character in the other. Here is Liu fighting injustice on the streets in Return to the 36th Chamber.
The sequels are more light-hearted, but the action sequences built on the best from the original. They too are worth watching.