'Master Killer' video cover

36th Chamber of Shaolin

AKA: Shaolin Master Killer, Master Killer


Director: Lau Kar-Leung

Stars: Gordon Liu, Lo Lieh, Wilson Tong

After Manchus destroy his village, a young man (Liu) goes to train at the Shaolin temple, where he becomes a star student. After being kicked out of the temple for suggesting that the Shaolin teach their kung fu to ordinary people, he begins to assemble his own team to take revenge on the Manchus.

The plot is probably one of (if not the) most used in kung fu films, but few movies pull it off as brilliantly as 36th Chamber of Shaolin. Most of the movie centers around Liu's training in some very original and inventive training sequences (such as using a hall of mirrors in a darkened room or making Liu carry buckets of water with knives strapped to his arms) dealing with the various "chambers" (schools) of the Shaolin, culminating with some great fights near the end. The cinematography is quite nice and avoids the staticness most "old-school" kung fu films feature. Many films have emulated or outright stolen many of the images from 36th Chamber of Shaolin. It is quite literally the blueprint for almost all of the traditional kung fu films that followed it, and should not be missed by any martial arts fan.


Back to Movie Review index