Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mini-Review: The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)

I've often said the difficulty in going back in cinema viewing is that you are conditioned through years of experience in the present. All our time watching countless movies built upon the shoulders of giants. Those who saw potential in what we see as generic. Those who created grandeur through what we would now call old. And so when going back to see a movie whose influence can neither be denied or quantified, I try my best to keep that in mind.

Luckily enough, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin needed no help from my calculating mind at all. Over the top in cheese, awesomeness, and obsessive self-idealism, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin is entertainment in its purest form. A mild moral tale mixed in with a fantastical styling, wrapped in the comfort of action, under the dark tent of vengeance. It's the kind of movie you kind of wish was dubbed just to increase its magnificence ten-fold. And yet even that wouldn't begin to compliment it.

Now, I'm not saying it's one of those movies that every human being should watch before they die. I'm just saying it's one of those movies every human being should enjoy when they do; watch it, that is. The movie brings to light some of the most mentally staggering questions in history. Questions like "just how many wise old Chinese kung fu monks does it take to train a hothead?" Answer: In and around a baker's dozen. And I take no shame in saying each one is as equally awesome as the last.

That's really the kind of movie this is. Sure, there's the generic young idealist becomes kung fu master arc that has been featured so dominantly throughout the years. But that's just a component. It's the base element, from which the movie derives such an intense sense of awareness. Not afraid to be comical, self-mocking, and confident all at the same time, it imposes an enchanting charm onto the viewer. Glazing over their worries of cliches by standing steadfast alongside them. And in doing so it creates a tale worthy of those who seek out the opportunity to view it.


Recommended By: Silver Emulsion

1 better thoughts:

Will said...

Great review man. You really nailed it that while many older films need some sort of mental adjustment, this one is just so much fun it's hard not to like it. A good majority of Shaw Brothers films are like that too. Glad you enjoyed it!

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