HEROES TWO and MEN FROM THE MONASTERY were just the warm up for this exceptional third entry in director Chang Cheh’s Shaolin Cycle that expands on the folklore surrounding southern Shaolin kung fu. Taking place years after the burning of Shaolin Temple, the martial descendents of Ming loyalist and Hung Fist master Hung Hei-gun come into conflict with Manchu martial artists at a rival school. When the skills of leading Manchu student Wu Chung-ping (Chiang Tao) prove inadequate, two martial descendents of the infamous Iron Shirt master Bak Mei are called upon. The Shaolin school is defeated and its four top students withdraw to advance skills in kung fu to counter the near-invulnerability of Iron Shirt kung fu. Following extensive body conditioning and forms training, two of the students master Eagle Claw and Rolling Eagle Claw but their new abilities still prove inadequate. That leaves Li Yao (Alexander Fu Sheng) and Chen Bao-rong (Chi Kuan-chun) to master Tiger Crane and Wing Chun respectively to avenge their brethren and restore honor to Shaolin. The film was one of the first to popularize kung fu training sequences in Hong Kong cinema with its depictions of students catching fish by hand, punching fingers through wooden boards and detailed sets of authentic forms. While lacking in characterizations, the production is substantially upgraded from previous Shaolin Cycle entries by incorporating a strong narrative and formidable villains to back up exciting, finely detailed fighting action. Returning leads Fu Sheng and Chi Kuan-chun deliver strong physical performances while newcomers Wang Lung-wei, Leung Ka-yan and Gordon Liu hold their own.
Alexander Fu Sheng • Bak Mei • Chang Cheh • Chi Kuan-chun • Chiang Tao • Genre: Kung Fu • Genre: Shapes • Gordon Liu • Lau Kar-leung • Leung Ka-yan • shaolin • Shaolin Cycle • Shaolin Martial Arts (1974) • shaolin temple • Shaw Brothers • Wang Lung-wei