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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Movie Review: Shaolin

Todd and I watched this film on Netflix streaming. We started it during Alex's nap one lazy Sunday, and just wrapped it up last night.

The story takes place during the warlord era of early Republic of China (early 1900s). The main character, Hou Jie, the man pictured in the top center row (hello hot stuff, might I add), is one of the aforementioned warlords. Without spoiling too much of the plot, let's just say there's some plotting on his part, plotting on the film's Big Bad, Cao Man (the hottie on the left in the top row), and Hou Jie ends up left with nothing.

Though he initially had mocked Shaolin, after meeting the Temple's cook, Wudao (hey there, Jackie Chan! don't worry, you're a cutie too), he decides to remain there, become a monk and atone for his sins. There, he slowly wins the respect and admiration of his fellow monks, most specifically the Senior Brothers.

Naturally, there is a big old showdown between Cao Man and Hou Jie, all while European soldiers, who are of course evil, and there to purchase old relics under the guise of building a railroad, do their best to be stereotypically evil (the main bad European guy even does an evil laugh as he blows stuff up).

It's a good movie with a great theme of forgiveness and repentance, but even though there is tragedy as with most Chinese hero films, this one did strike me as particularly sad, but that is coming from me and my Western perspective. There are of course badass fighting scenes, but since it takes place in the early 1900s, there are guns and that shit just isn't fair. There is also humor in the film, which I think is mightily important in an otherwise heavy story. I was particularly pleased to see Jackie Chan taking a less prominent fighting role in the movie. Oh, he gets his moment, for sure, but it's an inspiring one; he is no goofy hero in this movie like he tends to be in others.

If you enjoy kung fu movies (mandatory in our house), then I think you'll enjoy this. If you're not, I still think this film is accessible enough to pique your interest.

Grade: B++ (extra plus for all the epic eye candy)

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