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THE 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN (1979) *** ½

Gordon Liu is a student who joins up with the resistance to fight the Tartars.  When the bad guys kill his father, Liu sneaks into the Shaolin temple and begs the monks to teach him Kung Fu.  The monks agree to let Liu train and he quickly sets out to master the temple’s 35 chambers.  Liu surprises the monks by conquering the 35 chambers in record time.  He then leaves the temple to create a new chamber of Shaolin that teaches the common man Kung Fu.  But first, he must get revenge on the no-good bastards that killed his father.

 

For years, I’ve had friends telling me that I needed to see this movie because it was an all-time Kung Fu classic.  Now that I’ve finally gotten around to seeing it, I have to say that it’s not quite one of the greatest Kung Fu flicks ever made, but it’s still pretty badass.  The training sequences within the temple are impressive and the fights are expertly choreographed.  And Gordon Liu gives a great performance.  He goes from being a callow youth to a hotheaded disciple to a spiritual ass-kicking monk and makes it seem convincing.

 

The problem with The 36th Chamber of Shaolin is that the scenes outside of the temple pale in comparison to the training sequences inside the temple.  The opening scenes are fine but it takes awhile for the flick to really get into gear.  Also, once Liu leaves the temple, his adversaries’ comeuppance seems a bit rushed.  These complaints are relatively minor in the long run though because the flick cooks whenever Liu is dishing out ass-whoopings; and he dishes out ass-whoopings a lot.

 

AKA:  The 36th Chamber.  AKA:  Shaolin Master Killer.  AKA:  The Master Killer.

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