Starring : Chen Kuan Tai , Lo Lieh,Wang Yue,Gordon Liu (cameo)
Directed By: Liu Chia Liang
Produced By : Runme Shaw
Copyright© 1977 Shaw Brothers / © 200 Celestial Pictures
Spring of Shaw Season - Film No'2
Executioners from Shaolin
Our next film in our Spring of Shaw season sees the legendary Chinese heroes and legends Hung his Kuan and Pai Mei.
Of course our main enemies here are the Manchu's , With the Manchu's sacking of the Shaolin temple we start of with the Priest Pai Mei aiding the Manchu in the overrun of the temple. Pai Mei confronts the master of the temple and in a fight displaying some of the most intricate fight action to grace the screens in the 70's all thanks to director Liu Chi Liang expert choreography and direction ,and all of this within the first minutes of the film.
The escaping Shaolin men make a bid for freedom and one of the overseers Hung his Kuan and his troop of shaolin men try and escape ..
But when cornered find them selves trapped ,but for the act of fellow disciple Tung Tien Chin ( Gordon Liu) who fights back the ensuring Manchu so Hung his Kuan can escape.
With the Manchu overrunning China the Shaolin men take refuge with a group of travelling entertainers on their Red Boats.
Of course the boats or Junks as there known are in fact a cover for the resistance fighters who are at loggerheads with the Manchu.
Along with his trusty friend Hsiao Hu ,Hung Hsi-Kuan hope to help fellow Chinese against the Manchu.
On their travels they meet a man and his Niece who are also travelling entertainers .The girl Wan Yun-Chun is a master of the Crane style of Kung Fu and comes at logger heads with Hung Hsi-Kuan until she finds out who he is.
Romance blossoms and the tow are married. But as it all looks rosy they here news of the Manchu closing in, their attacking the Junks and killing the resistance .
In a bid to survive they decide to split up , Hsiao Hu goes along with Hung and Yun-Chun , who is also pregnant with their child.
A son is born and they spend years living and raising their kid ,Hung continues to practise his Tiger style Kung Fu so he may one day be expert enough to gain revenge on Pai Mei.
Yun-Chun teaches their son Wen-Ding her style of Crane Style Kung Fu. And by age ten he has learned some strong basics.
This ten year time frame also sees Hung decide it's time to confront Pai Mei.
Hung sets of to gain revenge , his plan is scuppered when he finds that he is no match for Pai Mei's kung fu . Pai Mei's ability to shift his vital points in his body at different times makes it impossible for Hung to get through.
Injured Hung makes a dash for freedom and luckily escapes with the help of Hsiao Hu who helps him escape but dies in the process.
Barely making it home alive Hung was lucky, after recovering he decides to retrain himself to get to Pai Mei's vitals . Finding out that Pai Mei is at risk of injury during the times of one and three o'clock he works his whole training program around getting to try and attack Pai Mei's weak points within a allotted time frame.
Hung's son Wen-Ding has also come on in his Crane style and often confronts his father in duels of their styles.
With another seven years passed Hung decides the time is right , Yun-Chun is not convinced that he should go but say's nothing ,but Wen-Ding tries to stop his father but to no avail.
Once again Hung attacks the school of Pai Mei , but this time the guards are in force and Hung must fight his way in , not only does he find Pai Mei but also the Manchu general who he must fight as well .
Thinking he has the upper hand Hung displays some amazing technique only to find out that Pai Mei has learnt to move his vital points by will .
What's more time is not on his side as he entered at one O'clock and by the time he gets to getting any where near attacking Pai Mei's vitals three has already passed ( now come on could you fight for two hours solid?) , with no where to run it looks like he will be captured but in a turn of events Hung manages to take revenge for Tung Tien Chin only to be fatally wounded by Pai Mei.
They say if you don't succeed try try again, but maybe in Hung Hsi-Kuan's case he should have stayed at home.
By now Yun Chun and Wen-Ding know Hung is not coming back and it is up to Wen-Ding to take revenge on Pai Mei.
Being that Hung did not believe in mixing styles ,he never taught his son the Tiger style as he was learning Crane.
But with a half mouse eaten Tiger style manual trains and forms his own style of Tiger ,after a year he sets of to avenge his father ,his plan to use his Tiger style to give Pai Mei a false sense of security ( because he knows his own Tiger is not great) and then unleash the Crane.
Liu Chia Liang's direction is sublime as the film pace is full of action from beginning to end . The ingenuity in the fighting is all the more superb with two of the biggest stars at Shaw Brothers pitting their wits against each other. The formidable Lo Lieh (King Boxer) as Pai Mei and Chen Kuan Tai ( Teahouse ,Heroes Two) as Hung Hsi-Kuan.
Lily Li gets to show very little in this film other then some training sequences and more light heart scenes.
The early fight with Gordon Liu as Tung Tien Chin is formidable and a joy to watch and even the director gets a look in as he appears as a fighter at Pai Mei's temple who uses a three section staff to great effect.
Also look out for Mr Vampire himself Lam Ching Ying in small role also at the Pai Mei temple when Wen-Ding ( Yue Wong) takes revenge.
It's said that Executioners from Shaolin was the film that really got Liu Chia-Liang noticed as a director after years as a action choreographer at Shaw's . He went on to direct many great Shaw films in the late 70's and early 80's including the 36th Chamber trilogy ,Lady is the Boss, 8 Diagram Pole fighter and more.
It may not be the greatest Shaw Film but Executioners from Shaolin is a must see for all fans of Chen Kuan Tai and Lo Lieh.
Score out of Ten = 8
Review Date : March 2014
Review by : Sertes Nake
For fans of Kill Bill where Gordon Liu played the role of Pai Mei in the second part this should be a must see because not only does it explain more about Pai Mei and his abilities it also stars Gordon Liu as Tung Tien Chin in a cameo that's probably more entertaining then his role in the Kill Bill films.
Also of note Gordon Liu did actually star in a film called ''Clan of the White Lotus'' where Lo Lieh reprises his role as Pai Mei and Gordon Liu plays the man opposed against him..It is also a Shaw Brothers film and was made in 1980.
|Directed by||Lau Kar-leung|
|Produced by||Run Me Shaw|
|Written by||Kuang Ni|
|Starring||Chen Kuan-tai |
|Music by||Yung-yu Chen|
|Distributed by||Shaw Brothers Studio|
Lo Lieh- Pai Mei -Bai Mei
Chen Kuan Tai- Hung Hsi Kuan
Lily Li – Wan Yun-chun
Yue Wong – Hung Wen-ding
Kang-yeh Ching – Hsiao Hu
Gordon Liu ( cameo) Tung Tien Chin
Lau Kar Leung aka Liu Chia Liang ( Cameo ) - Three section staff fighter