Whenever I finish a film like The 36th Chamber of Shaolin I always wonder why I haven’t been watching more of them. At least this time I didn’t have to cleanse my mind of massacre films… I just thought this would be a cool film to watch when trying out a new Thai takeaway place.
One gripe that I have with this film, as well as other martial arts films like Come Drink With Me, is the lack of a satisfying final boss battle. I know that, in movies, most of these martial arts fights take far less time than what is depicted, which means the final battles actually make sense. It’s just that after all the time we’ve spent watching him train up… it just comes a little too easily. Then again, maybe that’s the point.
After all, most of the film is taken up by our hero taking on the various trials of the Shaolin Temple. These between hitting a gong with a 15 foot long hammer and practising battle poses whilst sitting down. Some of these trials are ridiculous, but I love the fact that everything comes in useful after his expulsion from the monastery.
It would appear that after 6 years of intense training and an extreme force of will made our hero a God amongst men. I mean, how else can you explain his reflexes and the way he can take out entire rooms by himself – especially when he got two men to kill each other with throwing knives; that was especially cool.
So yes, this is a fantastic kung fu movie to watch. Sure, I missed a bit of the magic realism from the wuxia films, but there’s still a lot of magic to be found in the weird trials of the Shaolin’s chambers despite the quick resolution to his battle against the big bad.