8 June 2007 | ChungMo
Semi-remake of 36th Chamber of Shaolin
A late film from the Shaw studios. This time David Chiang gets to shave his head.
An abbot from Shaolin, Chi San, is sent to learn the secrets of firearms from Er Mei, a Taoist priest in southern China. This is so the Shaolin monks can have a better method to fight the Manchu invaders. While there, the abbot learns soft kung fu from the elderly Er Mei and meets his daughter (?) Wu Mei. Spies hiding in the bushes learn about Shaolin's plans to build their own firearms and the Manchu/Tartar rulers send an army to destroy Shaolin. Returning to Shaolin, Chi San arrives too late to save the monks but the dying head abbot sends him back south to build a new Shaolin temple in southern China. There he comes into conflict with the evil brother to Er Mei, Pak Mei. Pak Mei supports the Manchus. There is also a Tibetian monk helping the Manchus. And so it goes....
While lively and competently directed by Meng Hua Ho, this film is very derivative of previous Shaw productions. The scenes where Chi San searches the town for students is very similar to the same scenes in "36th Chamber" and actually uses some of the same actors. A lot of the production panders to the HK audience by making bad guys of northern Chinese, Tibetians and anyone who studies Pak Mei kung fu. There are a number of lines praising the virtues of the southern Chinese. Kung fu students might want to see the film since a number of legendary kung fu instructors are characters but I assure you nothing is done with the characters. The martial arts are absurd at times but overall it delivers some above average choreography.
It's a short film at 78 minutes but you might find it fun. The ending is very abrupt.