Hunag Feng (director)
109 min (length)
24 June 2022 (released)
22 June 2022
Unlike many other films starring the one and only Sammo Hung, THE SHAOLIN PLOT not only sees the popular actor in his first major role before his career took off sky-high but his portrayal of a dastardly renegade monk marks a rather untypical one for him. At the opposite end we have hero James Tien who has a hard time ensuring that some precious martial arts manuals will not fall into the wrong hands.
This, however, is anything but a Kung Fu-comedy – far from it, the level of graphic violence is almost shocking at times. The story is set in ancient China, with inspired opening credits informing us about the various martial arts schools in the land, each one holding priceless manuals in the art of fighting techniques. Enter Prince Dagulun (Chen Hsing), an utterly ruthless control freak hell-bent on getting his greedy hands on every manual in existence – that way he can rule the entire country with an iron fist. Although most martial art school teachers and their prospective students are too intimidated by Dagulun (and his own considerable fighting skills) to put up a fight some point blank refuse to hand over the their manuals… Alas, the evil Prince knows just how to deal with those who don’t obey thanks to a particularly nasty renegade monk who goes by the nickname of ‘Golden Cymbals’ (Sammo Hung in almost unrecognisable disguise sporting mutton chops and a bald cap with mullet). In case you wonder how his nickname comes about then well – it has to do with his weapon of choice which are (you guessed it) razor-sharp cymbals more lethal than your humble guillotine!
When Little Tiger (James Tien) – the son of Wudang School master Gu Zhenfeng has the audacity to scarper with some of the precious manuals his decision to do so not only incurs the wrath of Dagulun but an immensely angry Golden Cymbals turns up at the school to teach Little Tiger a lesson… by mercilessly killing his father! On the run from the assassin and his men, Little Tiger eventually finds protection courtesy of Pu Hui (Chin Kang), a former Shaolin monk. Initially triumphant after having successfully fought off Prince Dagulun’s warriors it doesn’t take long before Golden Cymbals and his men turn up, disfiguring the former monks’ face in the most horrendous way imaginable. Admitting defeat, the badly wounded man urges Little Tiger to hand over the manuals to Golden Cymbals. This now only leaves the manuals at the famous Shaolin temple which the Prince is after! However, he and his men underestimate just how heavily guarded the temple is and why does he get the feeling the Shaolin monks are not in favour of the country’s leader? Hatching a plot to gain entrance to the temple and confront the Abbot he doesn’t even shy away from disguising himself BUT… in his quest to obtain the manuals he forgets that his fiercest opponent will do everything to prevent this – yes, we’re talking Little Tiger who by now has teamed up with various other warrior monks, including Casanova Wong, for an almighty showdown the likes of which have to be seen to be believed!
As is usual with this genre the fighting sequences defy the rules of gravity, never mind the many bone-crunching stunts. James Tien is a worthy hero while Sammo Hung convinces (and surprises) in the role of a remorseless killing machine – topped only by Chen Hsing’s ‘Prince Dagulun’.
THE SHAOLIN PLOT is available in a new 2K restoration for the first time on Blu-ray, with the first print run (2000 copies only) presented in a Limited Edition O-Card slipcase with Collector’s booklet. Bonus material includes optional audio options (original dialogue in Mandarin), audio commentaries and trailers.