Shaolin

  • Year:2011
  • Rating:MA
  • Director:Benny Chan
  • Cast:Jackie Chan, Andy Lau
  • Release Date:January 26, 2010
  • Distributor:Hopscotch
  • Running time:131 minutes
  • Film Worth:$15.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Despite out of place comic relief from Jackie Chan, this deftly weaves history and politics, while boasting brilliant martial arts.

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Benny Chan (City Under Siege, New Police Story), the prolific Chinese director known for his action, hits hard with a martial arts epic of war and power. Shaolin is a loose adaptation of The Shaolin Temple (1982), starring Andy Lau, and Benny Chan regulars Nicholas Tse and Jackie Chan.

It shows 1920s mainland China during a chaotic age of poverty, hardship and unceasing in-fighting. Warlords vie for power, and Hou Jie (Lau) finishes his violent and ruthless conquest of the township of Dengfeng, only to succumb to distrust and paranoia, causing his family to fall into the mercy of the monks of the local Shaolin temple. Forgiving him for his wrath and ferocity (of which the monks were a direct victim), Hou and the monks work together to bring about the end of a newly established tyranny.

The film highlights the pacifistic Shaolin philosophy and its effect on even the most callous killers, and is a martial arts extravaganza to boot, using refreshingly little CG.

The sombre and tense story of redemption is peppered with brilliant action sequences boasting martial arts on par with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers, paying homage to The Shaolin Temple yet showcasing its own unique style.

The bleak horror of war is convincing, giving a harrowing vision of injustice and oppression which sticks with you. The cast carry the tension perfectly, the only off points being the unbelievably evil antagonists and inexplicably jovial comic relief from Jackie Chan.

The story highlights Hou as a synecdoche of China's maturity from civil war, and deftly manages to represent both his internal struggle and the untenable political instability of the time. Stunning cinematography impresses throughout, and the result is an impressive film well worth checking out.

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