The Shaolin Plot (1977) by Huang Feng

“The textbook is our school’s greatest treasure. We cannot abandon it.”

In the 1970s, the martial arts genre experienced one of its most interesting periods, with many directors and therefore feature films competing for audiences eager for stories of fights against Shaolin monks or rebellious students. against a seemingly unbeatable power structure. Of the many names associated with the genre, Huang Feng was one of many directors who delivered what audiences (and therefore producers) wanted, with his 1977 feature “The Shaolin Plot” being arguably his most notable effort. . It’s an impressive film featuring great sets and fight sequences, while also featuring actors such as Chen Hsieng, James Tien and Sammo Hung, names that defined the martial arts genre during this period.

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During his reign, Prince Daglen (Chen Hsing) not only developed formidable skills as a fighter, but also a plan to collect all the martial arts textbooks from schools in the country, and thus become an even stronger force. big. With the support of a monk armed with deadly cymbals (Sammo Hung), he sets a trap for the masters of the other schools, many of whom fall prey to him and his men. While his father, the head of the Wudang school, also falls victim to the prince’s evil plot, Little Tiger (James Tien) manages to escape the assassins and ends up taking refuge with Master Pu Hui (Chin Kang), a monk Exiled Shaolin, who fends off attackers at the cost of his eyesight.

Meanwhile, with the Shaolin Temple manuals the only manuscripts missing from his collection, Daglen sets his sights on the monks and the abbot. However, having misjudged the strength of their fighters, he realizes he must change his strategy if he seeks to enter the heavily guarded Shaolin library. At the same time, Little Tiger is introduced to the monks’ unique techniques by Pu Hui and is already planning to stop the ruler’s evil plan.

If there’s one thing moviegoers and especially fans of Asian films can take away from the latest wave of martial arts titles by companies such as Eureka, it’s the way they presented viewers with features such as “The Shaolin Plot”. Given that the title was also restored in 2K, it certainly serves the overall atmosphere of the film itself, making the sets and costumes stand out. Sets such as Daglen’s Hideout or the Shaolin Temple have such appeal to them, emphasizing the mischievous nature of the prince as well as the strict rules of the monks with its wide open spaces and dark, mysterious interiors. Overall, “The Shaolin Plot” is one of the best examples of the genre whose visuals highlight themes within the plot itself, and which are often simply stunning.

At the same time, in the midst of beauty, there is also darkness and brutality. Chen Hsing and Sammo Hung as the chief henchman represent the violent nature of an authoritarian regime, with their fighting style and the weapons quite bloody and vicious, as well as a bit weird, considering the deadly cymbals that Hung’s character uses to get rid of his opponents. With actors like James Tien and especially Chin Kang as an exiled Shaolin monk, they also reflect the kind of skill and artistry in the genre, with scenes such as Little Tiger’s fight against hordes of Shaolin monks or the Hung’s character’s almost bizarre battle at the start being prime examples of the feature film’s choreography and audiovisual design.

Ultimately, “The Shaolin Plot” is a truly entertaining and artistic martial arts film. Director Huang Feng not only manages to bring together some of the actors who made the genre famous, but also shows the level of thought behind aspects such as set design and editing, making “The Shaolin Plot” truly stand out among the plethora. titles that came out around the same time.

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