Shaolin Challenges Ninja


"You can almost call it The War of the Roses meets Saturday Afternoon Kung Fu..."

- Mighty Peking Man

Shaolin Challenges Ninja (1978)

AKA: Challenge of the Ninja, Drunk Shaolin vs. Ninja, Heroes of the East

Director: Liu Chia-Liang (Lau Ka-Leung)

Producer: Run Run Shaw

Cast: Gordon Liu, Yasuaki Kurata , Yuko Mizuno, Liu Chia-Liang

Running Time: 107 min.

Plot: Ho, a man of Chinese decent is married to a Japanese woman. They both feel that here countries martial arts are the best and compete often against one another. Eventually Ho's wife beats him by using Ninjitsu. He gets mad and she goes back to Japan. After realizing how stupid he was Ho writes a letter to his wife saying that their styles a similar. Unfortunately her brothers do not see the letter as a peace offering, they see it as a challenge and go to China to challenge Ho. Ho kicks each of their buts one by one and gains the respect of the brothers and his wife (which has returned home).

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EQUINOX21'S REVIEW: Gordon Liu stars in this Shaw Bros. film about a Chinese man and a Japanese woman who get married (through an arranged marriage). When they start challenging each others' martial arts, things begin to escalate. Eventually, she leaves to head back to Japan. He sends her a "challenge letter", hoping it will bring her back to China, but instead is misinterpreted by her Ninja mentor as a claim that his Chinese Kung-Fu is superior. So, about 8 or 9 Japanese martial arts masters all head to China to take up the challenge.

The fighting in Heroes of the East was pretty slick. I'm guessing that's the whole reason to see a movie like this, which is why I was a little disappointed at how long the lead up was to the actual challenges was and how quick some of the fights actually went. The Japanese so-called masters gave up far too easily in some cases, after taking a few licks they'd decide they simply couldn't win and walked away. This was only a few of the fights, but it almost seemed to be done to put a negative spin on the Japanese mentality or their martial arts in general (of course, the whole movie was about that, seeing as a Chinese Kung-Fu student beats 8 Japanese Martial Arts masters using various weapons).  It was still cool to see, and the fact that no one dies at all is pretty amazing for a movie of that sort. Overall, I'd recommend it... to any non-Japanese martial artists.


MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: Finally, a kung fu flick that features Chinese and Japanese characters and guess what: they DON'T hate each other. However, they still fight, but for legitimate reasons. That's what makes Shaolin Challenges Ninja so unique. You can almost call it "The War of the Roses" meets "Saturday Afternoon Kung Fu" with its silly, but smart, plot that revolves around a newlywed couple - a Japanese woman (Yuko Mizuno) and Chinese man (Gordon Liu) who are constantly testing/fighting each other to prove which is better: Chinese Kung Fu or Japanese Karate/Ninjitsu.

Though it has a fair share of action, keep in mind that "Shaolin Challenges Ninja" is light-hearted. Don't expect something like Chang Cheh's ninja-epic "Super Ninjas" with blood-soaked ultra-violence. Not in this film. If fact, nobody even gets killed. On the bright side, at least you can watch this while babysitting or something.

A little low on brutality, but a real treat for anyone who can appreciate a good clean kung fu flick.