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The legend of southern Shaolin monk San Te comes alive in this masterful martial arts epic from Shaw Brothers and action director Lau Kar-leung. In his third starring role, Gordon Liu (DIRTY HO) delivers an iconic, career-defining performance as the stoic Liu Yu-de, a Qing-era student caught up in an anti-government rebellion. When ruthless General Tien Ta (Lo Lieh) orders his bloodthirsty lieutenant Tang San-yao (Wilson Tong) to lead a crackdown on rebels operating in Canton, Yu-de’s friends and family are killed and he’s left on the run. With the Manchu authorities maintaining a public ban on martial arts training and weapons, Yu-de vows to learn kung fu by traveling to Shaolin Temple, the last bastion of martial arts expertise among the oppressed Han people. Although the temple is closed to outsiders, he sneaks in and is allowed to become a monk with the new name San Te. In five years he masters all 35 training chambers in the temple and sets out to create a 36th chamber where laymen from outside the temple can learn Shaolin kung fu. While recruiting disciples, San Te encounters his old Manchu enemies and joins his new pupils in fighting back. This is the best known movie from Lau, who emerged from the shadow of his mentor Chang Cheh several years earlier to become one of the genre’s top filmmakers due to his years of experience as an action director and stuntman in Hong Kong in addition to master level proficiency in his own family’s Hung Fist style of kung fu. The film contains exceptional fighting action featuring intricate open-hand forms, double sword and three-section-staff sparring that pits Liu against top genre talents including Lo Lieh, Wilson Tong and Lee Hoi-sang. Yet the main attraction is the many elaborate scenes depicting imaginative body conditioning and martial arts training. Few films apart from the Shaolin-related works of Joseph Kuo delve as thoroughly into the subject of Shaolin kung fu training and none are as well crafted or grand as this. The film also benefits from some of Shaw Brothers’ finest production work including vivid cinematography, their best sets and a large cast of extras.

REVIEW: 36th Chamber of Shaolin, The (1978), 8.6 out of 10 based on 47 ratings Related Topics:
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  • http://www.myspace.com/changyembo_hungka Juan Chang Yembo

    One of the greatest teacher-actors for their great films, such as chambers of shaolin 36, is and has been Gordon Liu, assessments are my personal thanks

  • http://watchkungfu.com Love to Watch Kung Fu Movies

    This is truly a master piece and one of the greatest Kung Fu Movies of all time. I love this movie and it is responsible for influencing so much of our culture. From the latest cinematic release, to Hip Hop. This film encapsulates something special. Loved the article! We need to keep this film, and other like it alive. Thank you!

  • Jessie

    My father record this movie back in the 80′s. As we were growing up my father showed us this movie. When you were a kid all you ever cared about was the fighting. Now that you’ve gotten older (and still watch the movie on tape) you understood that there was a great and wonderful storyline behind the movie.

  • Rhythm-X

    Another thing about 36TH CHAMBER — the cinematography is just flat-out gorgeous, with meticulously composed shots that use every inch of the frame to maximum effect – I’ve never seen a pan & scan version of this film and I can’t even imagine how terrible it must have looked. While martial arts films are frequently (and not inaccurately) mocked for careless overuse of the zoom lens as an quick and easy substitute for dollying the camera, in 36TH CHAMBER the zoom techniques are used exceptionally well, zooming from one perfectly composed shot into another perfectly composed shot. In the visual language of 36TH CHAMBER, zooms are a dynamic replacement for straight cuts from one shot to another. Just another great thing about this film.

  • Nights1515

    WU TANG CLAN!!

    But really this movie is awesome!