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"It's The Only Way To Survive"

                             Spring of Shaw Season Review

             Return to the 36th Chamber - 1980

 Starring : Gordon Liu , Kara Hui, Hsiao Ho

Directed By : Liu Chia Liang aka Lau Kar-Leung

Produced By: Mona Fong and Run Run Shaw

copyright ©1980 Shaw Brothers / 2000© Celestial Pictures

 

 

Spring of Shaw Season – Film No'1


Return to the 36th Chamber


Welcome to our first review to our ''Spring of Shaw'' season 2014., over the next 12 weeks where be featuring a film from the Shaw Brothers archive in our tribute to the legendary Shaw brothers .


You never know we may even feature two films some weeks ( we have quite a few to get through) , here we have the sequel to the 1978 classic ''The 36th Chamber of Shaolin'' which also starred Gordon Liu who played the legendary Shaolin Monk San'Te .


Here again Gordon Liu returns but this time he plays one Chu Jen- Chieh a confidence trickster who in a attempt to help his brother who works in a material colour dying factory poses as the legendary Shaolin Monk San'Te.


Confused? , well you won't be.


When the Manchu government brings in new colourists to work at the factory the existing workers are forced to take a pay cut , but in reality it's a ploy by the factory owner Wang to get the workers to improve output and for less pay..


Chu Jen-chieh's brother Ah Chao tries to stand up to Boss Wang and his No 1 man Chief Ma and cause a strike but the Manchu workers are proficient martial artists and threaten to beat the workers and there families if they don't work for the reduced rate.


In a bid to regain there pride and salary Ah Chao's brother Chu Jen-Chieh poses as the monk San'Te to help the workers regain there pay.


In a elaborate farce they lure the Manchu workers to supposedly meet with one of the female workers who they think that there get lucky with so to speak. Of note the said worker Hsaio Hung is played by female Kung Fu star Kara Hui ( My Young Auntie, Martial Club) , any way when the Manchu arrive they are confronted by the many workers from the factory and a Shaolin Monk who poses a top a tree and jumps down to them..


When confronted the Manchu are weary of the Monk who seems to have much power as he dispatches the angry workers with such agility and chi power that the Manchu are convinced they are in the presence of a true master even though they have not engaged him themselves.


The workers and Chu Jen-Chieh have devised a plan using wires and well timed stunts to fool the Manchu into thinking that the Monk who calls him self San'Te is the real deal.


When back at the factory they tell Chief Ma of there experiences and that the Monk wishes to meet him , once again Chu Jen-Chieh arrives dressed as the Monk to meet Chief Ma and once again his workers put on a show when they pretend to get out of hand. ..Chu posing as San'Te forces Ma to reinstate the workers pay and backdate it . In fear of retribution Ma agrees.


But when Ma's boss Wang finds out he is determined to meet this monk and test his skills, especially when he finds that none of his men actually has engaged with him.


Once again Chu poses as San'Te and arrives at the factory,this time confronted by Wang who want's to see a demonstration of San'Te's power . In a botched attempt at conning Boss Wang Chu actaully seems to jump in the air and land on his feet and puck up a pebble he thought might trip up the workers in a attempt to cover up his short comings.


But Boss Wang is pushy and want's San'Te to fight his men , trying to go the peaceful route and proclaim fighting for the sake of showing of is not the Shaolin way.


Forced into a corner supposed Monk is attacked and it becomes evident that he is a imposter. As the workers try and protect him and regain some dignity , Wang chucks Chu out and the workers are forced to work for less pay.


Disillusioned by what has gone on Chu decides he should leave , his friends and family have been beaten and humiliated ..


Ah Chao blames Chu for all the trouble he's caused and says he is useless , that he will never hold a regular job of any worth.


It's here that they decide that Chu should go to the Shaolin temple and learn real Kung fu and come back and take revenge.


Chu is not so sure ,but convinced by his friends and family that posing as a monk he could sneak in and just blend in.


So of Chu goes vowing to return and liberate his friends from the oppressive life under the Manchu.


For Chu it won't be easy getting into the Temple is one not to be sniffed at. After a couple of failed attempts he finds out that new monks are sent out after a year and then return to restart there training.


Thinking he can blend in with the returning monks he makes himself a wig out of a broom and blends in with the returning monks , but getting past the obstacles laid out for the monks to re-enter is no easy task.


After bumbling his way through after convincing the South Shaolin Monks he is a monk from Northern Shaolin he gets into the temple only to be confronted by the Abbott , the real San'Te.


Though he seems inadequate in his training San'Te decides to let him stay and even sets him out a task to help with his training. ( i'm glad I don't have to wash my hair this way) , your see..


But after Chu has surpassed himself and proven he has the gusto to get through it comes to light that he is not even the Northern Monk he claims to be.


Thinking he must leave ,San'Te stops him and says he can stay one one condition ,that he must scaffold the whole temple using bamboo for renovation and that he must not touch the ground during the process , he must eat and sleep with his scaffold.


Of course on his duties Chu can not help but see the monks training and ends up taking longer to erect the scaffold.. With each new erection he builds Chu is perusing another chamber and taking in the techniques ,but unknown to him he does not realise this.


After time Chu Chu finishes the scaffold and proclaims this to San'Te who has been watching him over the years ( yes it's taken that long) San'Te tells Chu that he must dismantle the scaffold and then he can leave .


With this Chu becomes infuriated and proclaims he will not leave or take down the scaffold. With this San'Te is dumbfounded by his outburst and uses his power to dismantle the scaffold and chuck Chu out. What ensues is a battle as Chu tries to keep his scaffold together and San'te tries to destroy it.


It ends up with Chu landing in the training chambers and without knowing passes all the test as San'te chases him.


In the end Chu must leave the temple ,he goes back home to be greeted by his friends and family who have been waiting for his return .


But know most of the workers have other jobs of very poor pay and are living a hard life. Convinced that Chu will redeem them proving his skills ,Chu proclaims the only thing he learnt in three years was scaffolding.


As he goes to leave all his friends arrive they hustle and bustle him ,he proclaims he knows nothing and has no Kung Fu , in the tussle he lashes out at a friend launching him across the ground.


It's now that Chu realises he knows Kung Fu and that his years at the temple where well used, the next morning he turns up at the dye factory to confront the Manchu and Boss Wang.


And what they get this time around is real Shaolin Kung -Fu..


Return to 36th Chamber is more light of heart compared to the original ,but no less intense in the action stakes. It has some fun moments in the first half where Chu is pretending to be the famous Monk San'Te.


But it's the intense training scenes at the temple which proves that once again Gordon Liu is maser of his art. His statue and form is evident through out .


Again the imagination of the fights and training scenes is proof once again of director Lau Kar-Leung's vision and expertise .


The training scenes on the bamboo scaffold are a joy to watch as Gordon Liu bounces around the bamboo frames doing forms,blocking routines and so forth..


Then to see all these scenes transformed into actual fight scenes is a amazing to watch.


The print we watched was the region 1 DVD release from Dragon Dynasty , it has both Chinese and English soundtracks with or without subtitles.


Picture quality was sublime with it being a print from the Celestial pictures remasters.


Of note* In 2012 after filming ''Kill'Em All'' Gordon Liu suffered a stroke , he beacme quite ill and lost much movement in his body. Though still quite ill he is making a slow recovery , here at Kick'em in the Ghoulies we wish him well and hope he gets better day by day..


Our thoughts are with him..



Score out of Ten = 8


Date reviewed : March 8th 2014


Reviewer : Sertes Nake



Our next film in our ''Spring of Shaw '' season is Executioners from Shaolin , a film from 1977 which may be of interest to to Kill Bill fans as it focuses on the story of the battle of Shaolin disciples and the legendary Pai Mei.

 

 

 

                              Alternate posters and stills
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Check Out  Our Photo Gallery on Facebook ( which is embedded below)  which features a select number of stills not on site. 
 
 
                                              Credits

 

Directed by Lau Kar-Leung
Produced by Mona Fong
Run Run Shaw
Written by Ni Kuang
Starring Gordon Liu
Music by Eddie Wang
Cinematography Peter Ngor
Distributed by Shaw Brothers Studio
Release dates
  • 1980
Running time 99 min.
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese

 

 Character Cast

 

 

Gordon Liu as Chu Jen-chieh

Kara Hui as Hsiao Hung

Hsiao Ho as Ah Chao

Wong Ching-ho as Uncle Li

Wa Lun as Chou Sheng

Lee King-chue as Abbot San Te

Chan Si-gaai as Ah Fen

Kwan Yung-moon as Chuan Min

Yeung Jing-jing as Hsiao Ting

Johnny Wang Lung-wei as Huang Kao-feng

Kong Do as Chief Ma

Chang Yi-tao as Yuen Li-hou

 

 

                                             Trailers

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         The Legendary Shaw Brothers Spring 2014  Special

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