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Issue #187a HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES November 24th, 2003

Two Champions of Shaolin
(1980; Shaw Brothers)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Siu lam yue mo dong
Mandarin: Shao lin yu wu dang
English: Shaolin and Wu Tang

U.S. Title: Two Champions of Death

A passable effort from director Chang Cheh, this period entry delivers fine martial arts but is run-of-the-mill in all other respects. Tong Qianjin (muscleman Lo Mang) was born a Manchu but gained acceptance at Shaolin Temple regardless because his father and mother were murdered by Manchurians. Shaolin is presently at war with the Wu Tang clan, a significant problem as they are affiliated with the ruling Ching forces. When Tong is injured by some Wu Tang men, he is given refuge at the home of knife throwing experts Jin Tailai (Sun Chien) and his sister, Jin Bier (Yeung Ching-ching). They instruct the guest in their art and, teaming up with fellow Shaolin fighter Hu Huigan (Chiang Sheng), Tong is able to exact revenge upon his attackers. Bier and Tong marry but Wu Tang forces invade the wedding reception, capturing Tong. Fortunately, Shaolin has an important ally in the form of the young but powerful Wu Tang man Wei Xinghong (Chin Siu-ho, receiving an "Introducing" credit), who opposes his clan's alliance with the Ching Dynasty.

This lacks the humor and dramatic resonance of Chang Cheh's best works and the story proceeds in such a linear and contrived fashion, there is little in the way of suspense or intrigue here either. The kung fu is terrific but without an absorbing plot to contain them, the various setpieces do not possess the impact they might have. However, this widescreen DVD at least lets one enjoy these displays in their entirety, serving as a welcome improvement over the cropped and dubbed Southgate tape version (which was likely the source for the bootleg American DVD making the rounds). Although he helped out behind the scenes with the action choreography, the absence of Philip Kwok Tsui, the most personable of Chang's regular stable from this period, also does not help but Lo is a very acceptable substitute in one of his few leading roles. Lu Feng, Wang Li, Cho Tat-wah (as the Wu Tang elder who sets the plot in motion by ordering random assassinations of Shaolin men) and Candy Wen Hsueh-erh also appear. The characters of San Te and Fong Sai-yuk also play secondary roles in the story and are, thus, portrayed by lesser known performers.

Cover art courtesy Intercontinental.

Lo Mang. Image courtesy Intercontinental.

Sun Chien (left) and Yeung Ching-ching. Image courtesy Intercontinental.
Intercontinental #101069 (Hong Kong label)

Dolby Digital 5.1

Post-synced Mandarin Language

Optional Subtitles in English, Traditional Chinese, Malaysian, and Indonesian

12 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With Clips

Enhanced for 16:9 Displays

Letterboxed (2.35:1)

Coded for Region 3 Only

NTSC Format

101 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Contains moderate violence and torture

DVD menu courtesy Intercontinental.

Nova Scotia: 18
Ontario: AA (Martial Arts Violence, Violence)
Singapore: PG
United States: R


Another clean and attractive presentation from Celestial. Colors are solid and damage is non-existent. The only complaint is in regards to the contrasts, which are overly hot at times, reducing the amount of detail in the performers' faces and making Chin Siu-ho's white outfit bloom. The audio is crisp and largely free from annoying "improvements." Extras are skimpy, with just a few video promo spots and the usual Movie Information section on offer.

TWO CHAMPIONS OF SHAOLIN is available at Poker Industries.

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