In 1974, Chang Cheh was roughly halfway through a career that already included such milestones as "The One-Armed Swordsman", "The Heroic Ones" and "Blood Brothers". While it can be argued that all martial arts movies are fantasies, Chang's films ("Blood Brothers", especially) were peopled by vividly wrought, three-dimensional characters that the viewer cared about. But, despite assembling a stellar cast for "Five Shaolin Masters", it is here that the veteran director begins to eschew character development. Of the titular masters, only Fu Sheng has any humanity; the remaining heroes (David Chiang, Ti Lung, Chi Kuan-chun, Meng Fei) and all of the villains (Wang Lung-wei, Chiang Tao, Fung Hark-on, Tsai Hung, Liang Chia-jen) are emotionless comic book figures, boldly but crudely drawn. From this point forward, Chang's characters and plots would become increasingly stylized until he was directing what were essentially live-action cartoons, like "Five Element Ninja". The films were still entertaining, but with rare exceptions (such as "The Chinatown Kid") were no longer engrossing. But hey, I won't get too stuffy in my analysis of what is undeniably an entertaining movie. There are lots of fights, both empty-handed and with weapons, and they're beautifully choreographed by Liu Chia-liang--soon to become a director in his own right--and Liu Chia-yung. (Look for brief cameos by the latter and by the Lius' adopted brother, "Master Killer" Gordon Liu.) Judged strictly on action, "Five Shaolin Masters" is a winner, and fans of the genre will want to see it more than once.