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15 May 2011

Shaolin (2010)

It's been a struggle to get over this jet-lag. I'm on the verge of forgetting all about the most recent film I watched. Here's a quick review before I do just that. The film in question is: Shaolin.

Now, I've got a bit of a thing for Chinese films.... on two conditions: They've got to be 'epic' and they've got to have a little bit of martial arts. I think it all stems from a misspent youth overdosing on Bruce Lee and the many cheap spin-offs. On the spin-offs: I seem to remember one film in particular that was a favourite. It was called something like 'Nails of Death' and involved this man whose deadly special skill was throwing 6 inch nails. Hi-yah! Oh yes... those were the days.

Chinese martial arts films have come a long way since the 70s but most of the good ones still maintain that little bit of magic. Of course, these days, the magic comes in the form of wire-work and Epic has been taken to a whole new level. Shaolin delivers on both fronts.

Shaolin is a big-budget film set in a time where feuding war lords are killing each other and anyone else who happens to get in their way. Enter into the frame some peace-loving Shaolin monks who manage to... get in their way. Damn!

This is a tale of two China's: The modern upstarts versus the old fogeys. It's guns versus Kung Fu. And as a side story, we also have those damn sneaky Westerners poking around and stiring up trouble. In short, Shaolin has all the ingredients for a cracking tale of paranoia, double-cross, escape, Kung Fu, salvation and redemption. What's not to like about that?

I'll admit that I'm not too knowledgeable about Chinese actors. I may recognise the faces, but I couldn't tell you their names. Well all right, I could tell you one... Jackie Chan... but he doesn't count. He has a guest appearance in Shaolin as a comedy cook who doesn't fight... yeah right! Actually, I felt his part was one of the weaker ones. I guess it was a nice break to have a little comedy, but at times I felt it was a little over-played; In certain scenes it was more Jackie Chuckle than Jackie Chan. Generally though, all the actors do a great job. Worthy of special mention is the star: Andy Lau, and Jacky Wu is suitably foppish throughout. And as for Bingbing Fan... well, I just love her name!

I'm sorry, I'm running out of steam...

So, should you watch this film. Damn right! On the Triple-B I'm going to balance on a stump with one leg in the air and give Shaolin 7 short sharp jabs. Now I am the Master! Hi-yah!

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