Avenging Warriors of Shaolin
"Avenging Warriors of Shaolin is lighthearted through most of its running time, and provides a different look at the Venoms actors."
Avenging Warriors of Shaolin (1978)
AKA: Avenging Warriors; Avenging Warrior; Shaolin Rescuers
Director: Chang Cheh
Producer: Mona Fong (Yat Wa), Sir Run Run Shaw
Cast: Lo Meng, Philip Kwok, Lu Feng, Jason Pai Piao, Sun Chien, Chiang Sheng, Goo Goon Chung (Ku Kuan Chung), Huang Li, Ku Kuan-Chung, Yang Hsiung, Yu Tai-Ping, Tan Chen-Tu, Liu San-Shaw, Chan Shen, Yang Ching-Ching, Chiang Nan, Haung Hsing, Tsao Ta-Hua
Running Time: 90 min.
Plot: A bean curd seller (Lo Meng) and a waiter (Kuo Choi) dream of making a name for themselves in the martial arts world. When a Shaolin patriot comes to them for aid, they get their chance.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
JOE909'S REVIEW: Despite the fact that the opening credits feature San Te (the character featured in "36th Chamber of Shaolin"), Fong Sai-Yuk (featured in several films), and a few other famous Shaolin monks getting killed by the villainous Pai Mei and his henchmen, Avenging Warriors of Shaolin is a comedy. As a matter of fact, you'd think Lau Kar-Leng, the Shaw director most noted for his comedic efforts, was behind this film, instead of Chang Cheh.
The Venoms star in this one, and though all of their previous films together had featured some comedy, none of them had it to this level. Unfortunately though, Chiang Sheng, usually the most humorous Venom, has a rather straight-laced part, and doesn't even show up until the last half hour. Lo Meng shines as a bean curd seller who learned Mantis Fist from a teacher whose name he never learned. Kuo Choi shows off his own comedic talents and acrobatic skills as a smart-ass waiter who doesn't mind stealing food from customers' plates. Kuo's kung-fu skills were taught to him by his dad, who showed Kuo how to fight with a bowl and chopsticks. Lo and Kuo are best friends, and spar with each other constantly, much to their respective bosses' dismay.
When injured Shaolin student Hung Sze-Kuan, the only escapee from Pai Mei's attack, shows up in Lo and Kuo's town, they take it upon themselves to heal him. Sun Chien joins them, as the expelled student of a local Shaolin school whose evil master rejected Hung Sze-Kuan's request for aid. The three drum up cash to buy the exotic potion required to heal Hung, stirring up the curiosity of Lu Feng and his henchmen.
Lu Feng plays his usual role, of course: cruel, evil, and deadly. He's Pai Mei's right-hand man, and he's been sent out to find and kill all Shaolin rebels. Joining him is a muscle head who wields a humorously-large hammer, a guy who fights with wooden shield and sword, a punk who wears metal hoops, and a couple other stooges. Lu himself wields a spear and carries a pair of miniature claws that come in handy for tossing at his victims. In one memorable scene, Lu and his companions take on a Shaolin rebel who refuses to give up.
The laughs come on consistently with Kuo, Sun Chien, and Lo Meng's parts, with Lu Feng giving the film it's moments of brutality. As the film continues, it takes on a more serious approach, with the final battle being the usual life-or-death Shaw Brothers climax. And it should be noted that this final battle is one of their best. It features the usual breath-taking acrobatics, combined with more weapons than I could keep track of. Spears, swords, chairs, tables, chopsticks, weird-looking blades, the works; just about everything's used.
Avenging Warriors of Shaolin is lighthearted through most of its running time, and provides a different look at the Venoms actors. I wouldn't say it's one of their best, as it quickly becomes apparent that most of the plot is just an excuse to set up the next fight sequence. This movie has more fights than any other Shaw Brothers movie I've seen. But it does feature two of the best fight sequences I've seen: the final battle, and the fight between the lone Shaolin warrior and Lu Feng's men.
In a final note, there are currently two releases of this movie available. There's the Ground Zero version, which goes by the name "Shaolin Rescuers," and has shots from the movie on the cover, and the Venom Mob version, which is called "Avenging Warriors of Shaolin," and for some reason has a photo of Gordon Liu on the cover. Both are the same length, and uncut. Opinion varies over which is better quality, but neither are pristine, and both were obviously dubbed off of a second or third-generation video. I bought the GZ version, as it's cheaper. However, this movie is so rare that I'd recommend purchasing either of the releases, as it's worth tracking down for the Venoms fan.
JOE909'S RATING: 8.5/10