Although Lin Che Jong (Bruce Lee imitator Bruce Leung) is just a lowly street vendor, he can still throw down with the best of them because he trained under the famous Wong Fei Hung (the Chinese Robin Hood). Encouraged by the support of his fellow peddlers, he opens up his own kung fu school and starts training up and coming kung fu fighters.
Then the plot kicks in as a gambler has to sell his sister into prostitution to pay off his gambling debt. She tries to make the best of it. Sadly, she just isn’t cut out for a prostitute’s life and dies shortly after being raped. Jong gets wind of this and doesn’t like it one bit, so he grabs his three best pupils to go smash up the gambling hall/brothel. This cheeses off the brothel owner, a big time gangster, to no end so he hires a bunch of mean dudes to the rearrange the faces of Jong and Co. This leads to a lot of scenes where men in funny pajamas beat the snot out of each other.
It takes about 75 minutes of plot for The Four Shaolin Challengers to finally get down to brass tax and start cracking skulls, but I’ll have to admit, it’s sorta worth it. I mean you kinda have to admire these Four Shaolin guys. They know how to mix it up. One guy beats the tar outta a few dudes with an umbrella, the second uses a pole to knock some teeth out and another uses a pair of cymbals to slash people across the eyeballs. The other guy basically just uses his fists and feet, but at least he’s moderately proficient at it.
This flick suffers from some lackadaisical pacing and a thoroughly routine story, but by the final 20 minutes is more or less a kung fu free for all. Had the rest of the movie been as action packed and featured more inventive fight scenes like the classy umbrella brawl; The Four Shaolin Challengers could’ve been a winner. You’ve seen it all before and done a lot better, but chopsocky fans who enjoy period films over modern action may want to give it a look-see.
As with any kung fu flick, you can at least count on some atrociously dubbed dialogue to keep you entertained; my favorites include: “You’re a bunch of lily livered fools!”, “No more pussyfooting around!”, and “Your iron balls are quite fantastic!”