Executioners From Shaolin/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Executioners From Shaolin
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With Lau Kar Leung's martial arts masterpiece Executioners From Shaolin, we meet the legendary Chinese folk hero named Hung Hze-Kwan and his foe, the treacherous white haired monk known as Pai Mei (White Eyebrow). Modern audiences may know the character Pai Mei from the Quentin Tarantino Grindhouse epic Kill Bill (2003-04).

As the films opening credit sequence plays we see Pai Mei fighting the Shaolin temple's leader Chi San (Lee Hoi Sang). After a brief fight, Pai Mei kills the old priest. (I love these kinds of openings where its shot on a stage).

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The story follows the old story of the Ching governments destruction of the Shaolin temple and the killing of its members lead by the evil traitor Pai Mei (the late great Lo Lieh). Pai Mei's wrath continues on the few survivors of the Shaolin temple massacre, and he sends his army out to find and execute them including the legendary Chinese folk hero Fong Sai-Yuk (which we dont see onscreen) and the anti-Ching fighter Tung Chin-Chin (36th Chamber of Shaolin's Gordon Liu). When the army finds Tung, they kill him in a very bloody and tragic way. You can see how much of a hero he really was from this sequence. Tung's best friend and fellow fighter Hung Hze-Kwan (Chen Kuan-Tai) and the rest of the Shaolin survivors decide to board some boats and they disguise themselves as a Chinese opera group. As they travel along but they have to battle the Manchu's whenever they show up and start trouble. The group finally reaches the Canton province and while there Hze Kwan meets a young beautiful performer named Yung Chun (Lily Li), whom he quickly falls in love with. Theres some funny sequences between Hze Kwan and Yung Chun as he tries to get her to open her legs. Her kung fu skills are so strong, Hze Kwan has a tough time trying to pry her legs apart. Finally Hze Kwan manages to win the little game and shortly after they get married and have a child.

Hze Kwan wants his revenge on Pai Mei and he begins to train in the ancient tiger style of kung fu. For ten long years Hze Kwan perfects his skills for the big battle. Hze Kwan travels to Pai Meis temple where the White Lotus Clan are staying. He climbs the legendary100 steps to the top and he begins to fight against Pai Mei's guards and finally gets to Pai Mei's own doorstep to challenge him to a fight. Quickly Hze Kwan realizes he cant beat ol Pai Mei and he retreats before getting his ass handed to him by the old white haired killer.

Hze-Kwan returns to his home once again and begins to practice on a large steel dummy thats filled with ballbearings. As Hze Kwan hits the large dummy, the ballbearings roll out and he tries to snatch them as fast as possible before they hit the ground to better his speed in fighting. This dummy sequence is another cool thing to watch. You will see many sequences like this in Mandarin kung fu films where the heroes of the story will use these bizarre training techniques to better themselves. Hey, I love this stuff! Hze Kwan returns to the White Lotus temple once again to battle Pai Mei, but he gets totally wrecked,especially when he tries to kick Pai Mei in the nuts. It seems that Pai Mei has learned a special trick to suck his nuts into his stomach, so the chances of knocking him out in that area is zero. When Hze Kwans foot meets Pai Mei's groin, Pai Mei uses his legs as a clamp and drags Hze Kwan around the room awhile. The result is deadly.

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Back home, Hze-Kwan's son Wen-Ding (Hsiao Hou) is now older and he swears to get his revenge for his fathers cruel death. The only problem is that Wen-Ding only has learned his mother's simple crane technique. Seeing her son needs more help with his training, Yung Chun tells Wen Ding about an old kung fu book Hze Kwan had kept. The book is severely damaged so Wen Ding tries to improvise the kung fu techniques he cant see illustrated in the book. When Wen Ding learns the skills he needs to know, he travels to the White Lotus temple and begins to take on Pai Mei's guards, making his way to the main man himself. Wen Ding and Pai Mei have a very intense kung fu battle and the end of the film is unrelenting as Wen Ding literally rips Pai Mei's head off. If you like Executioners From Shaolin, The GCDb also recommends the follow up called "Fists of The White Lotus".

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Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. He is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life.
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