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Issue #199 HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES February 16th, 2004

Invincible Shaolin
(1978; Shaw Brothers)

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

Cantonese: Nam siu lam yu buk siu lam
Mandarin: Nan shao lin yu bei shao lin
English: North Shaolin and South Shaolin

U.S. Title: The Unbeatable Dragon

A Manchurian general (Johnny Wang Lung-wei) comes up with a plan to combat the rising influence of Shaolin by pitting the Northern and Southern factions against one another. Representatives from each side are invited to participate in a friendly competition to determine who will be chosen to instruct Ching soldiers in kung fu. In the subsequent contest, Northern students Bao (Lu Feng), Xu (Sun Chien), and Yang (Chiang Sheng) clearly outclass their counterparts (including Dick Wei). The general secretly murders the Southern men and sends word back to elderly master Mai (Chan Shen) that the Northern fighters were responsible. The latter dispatches three more pupils to get revenge but their unrelenting ferocity forces the Northern disciples to kill two of them. Realizing that his students lack the necessary skills to be victorious, Mai sends his son to contact three masters who will train one man apiece. With the three Southern fighters now thoroughly skilled in Mantis Fist (Lo Mang), Wing Chun (Wei Pai), and pole fighting (Phillip Kwok Tsui), it appears that more Shaolin blood will be needlessly shed.

Chang Cheh's Venoms are back in this entertaining martial arts outing, another reliable mix of superb kung fu and amusing/impressive training sequences (Lo Mang's exercises involve doing laborious push-up exercises over eggs; whenever one breaks, he must have eggs for dinner -- for two months straight!). This entry differs slightly from the usual Venoms formula by splitting the team up evenly on different sides and not relegating any of them to villain roles. Pacing is not the picture’s strong point; there are several spots where training footage is repeated to little effect and tighter editing would have improved the second half. Nonetheless, INVINCIBLE SHAOLIN serves up what fans expect from Chang Cheh's films (stoic and unrelentingly honorable heroes, unapologetic male bonding, impressive martial dexterity), along with the novelty of seeing Lu Feng and Chan Shen playing honorable characters for a change. Although Kara Hui Ying-hung is a wonderful asset to a number of SB kung fu films, Chang follows his usual pattern in regards to women and relegates her to a flower vase role as a Ching serving girl who falls in love with Xu.

Cover art courtesy Intercontinental.

Left to right: Phillip Kwok, Lo Mang, Chan Shen, Wei Pai. Image courtesy Intercontinental.

Left to right: Lu Feng, Chiang Sheng, Sun Chien. Image courtesy Intercontinental.
Intercontinental #101540 (Hong Kong label)

Dolby Digital 5.1

Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks (both post-synced)

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

98 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Contains moderate (but bloody) violence

DVD menu courtesy Intercontinental.

Australia: M 15+
Great Britain: 15
Ontario: R
United States: R

The image is a little soft at times but that is the only complaint (the colors are particularly pleasing). The remixed audio is adequate but the English subtitles are merely fair (Wing Chun is translated in Mandarin form as Yongchun, which may confuse some viewers). The standard Celestial extras (bios/filmographies, video promo spots, and photo galleries) are also on the disc.

INVINCIBLE SHAOLIN is available at Poker Industries.

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