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When young San-Ta (Gordon Liu Chia-Hui) sees a rebel (Liu Chia-Yung) against
the Tartar oppressors executed, he decides to join the revolutionary movement,
but that only leads to manyof his friend & his fanmily being killed as
well, & he himself only just escapes his enemies.
So, san-Ta only sees one conclusion, he has to go to the Shaolin Temple to
learn Kung Fu. The temp0le though is run by monks who don't meddle in worldly
affairs, & for a whole year all he is allowed to do is to clean the floors
before even being allowed to Kung Fu training.
After that year though, San-Ta is admitted to the 35 Chambers, a series of
training exercises that teach the basic skills needed for fighting. The
exercises (which, taken by themselves, have little to do with actual fighting)
though are often of an inhumane, humiliating character, & only great
perseverance & self assuredness allow San-Ta to run all of the chambers,
& in record time, too.
Top be masster of his own chamber though, San-Ta has to first fight the
monastery's justice officer - a top fighter in his own right - with free choice
of weaponry ... & San-Ta loses not once but several times, until he uses
the self developed three-jointed bar to defeat his adversary. But when he,
instead of taking over one of the 35 chambers, tells the monastery's abbott
that he wants to build a 36th chamber to teach martial arts to layman, he
is expelled from the monastery.
Outside Shaolin for the first time after seven years, he sees his world has
changed for the worse, with the Tartars being more evil than ever ... but as
the master fighter he now is, he decides to fight them, assembles a small group
of rebels who he trains in fighting, & doesn't stop at anything until he
can finally face the Tartars' local leader general Tien (Lo Lieh) - &
defeat him, again with the 3-jointed bar ...
For many, this movie - the directorial debut of Liu Chia-Liang, Chang Cheh's
action director, & it shows - is the quintessential movie about #Shaolin
Kung Fu training, even though it was by no means the first one. What set it
apart from its predecessors though is its increasingly bizarre depiction of
training methods that often border the sado-masochistic - & which set the
tone for most Kung Fu-training films films to come. On a narrative level on the
other hand, the movie has surprisingly little to offer, it has less of a
coherent story (or much of a story at all) & is more of an
unreflected celebration of heroiusm. Action choreography & cinematography
are without fail though.