Shao Lin men (1976)

R   |    |  Action, Drama


Shao Lin men (1976) Poster

A survivor of an attack on a rebel group opposing the Manchu invasion of China creates the Goose Fist fighting technique and tries for revenge on a traitor.

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6.1/10
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16 August 2015 | BA_Harrison
7
| Chan, Hung, Woo, Baio and Wah.
Old-school martial arts 'classic' Hand of Death has a rather formulaic 'men on a mission'-style storyline, its high-kicking hero Yun Fei (Tao-Liang Tan) teaming up with several other skilled fighters to deal a blow to the evil Ching dynasty by killing traitor Shih Shao-Feng (James Tien), while protecting a revolutionary named Zhang Yi, who is carrying a map vital to the anti-Ching cause.

But although the plot isn't all that inspired, the film will undoubtedly still prove of interest to avid Hong Kong movie/kung fu fans thanks to its director, Wu Yu Sheng, better known as John Woo, and the involvement of several performers who would go on to be major players in the Asian martial arts movie scene, most notably superstar Jackie Chan, who appears in a supporting role as vengeful brother Tan Feng, and Sammo Hung (sporting hilarious fake buck teeth) as Ching henchman Lord Du.

Eagle-eyed viewers may also spot Yuen Baio as the guard killed with an arrow by Shih Shao-Feng, and Yuen Wah (my favourite martial arts villain of the 80s) as a bodyguard. I didn't.

As far as the action is concerned, Woo handles his fight scenes competently but with few of the stylish touches that he would later become known for (there's minimal use of slo-mo and absolutely zero doves in churches). The martial arts involves a variety of styles and weaponry, enough to ensure that boredom never sets in, but in the end it won't be the fighting that most people will remember this film for, but rather the burgeoning talent involved.

6.5 out of 10, rounded up to 7 for Sammo's teeth.

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