Classic kung fu action arrives on stunning Blu-ray courtesy of 88 Films! Starring Shaw Brothers legends Gordon Liu Chia Hui, Lo Lieh and Kara Hui Ying Hung. Order your copy of this martial-arts action-packed classic now from Amazon!
Shaw Brothers legend, Gordon Liu Chia Hui stars as “Hung Wen-ting”, a survivor of the destroyed Shaolin Temple. Liu’s breakthrough leading role was in “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin“. It led to many further memorable parts, often playing a shaven- headed kung fu master as either the hero or the villain. He appeared in two sequels to “36th Chamber”, as well as classics such as “Heroes of the East“, “8 Diagram Pole Fighter“, and “Legendary Weapons of China”. As the Shaw Brothers star dimmed somewhat, Liu remained active in smaller roles in films such as “Tiger on the Beat“, “Kill Bill“, “Dragon Squad“, “True Legend” and “The Man with the Iron Fists“.
A veteran of over 70 Shaw Brothers movies, Lo Lieh, who also directs, stars as the deadly “Priest White Lotus”, Pai Mei’s twin brother. Lo Lieh first hit the big time in the 1972 movie classic “King Boxer/Five Fingers of Death”. He went on to star in many Shaw Brothers hits including “Heroes of Shaolin”, “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin”, “Dirty Ho” and “Mad Monkey Kung Fu”. Later in his career he appeared in “Miracles”, “Dragons Forever” and “Police Story 3: Supercop”.
Action actress Kara Hui Ying Hung stars as “Mei Ha”. Kara Hui got her big break in 1976’s “Challenge of the Masters”, going on to appear in many Shaw Brothers classics including “Invincible Shaolin”, “Mad Monkey Kung Fu”, “Dirty Ho”, “Legendary Weapons of China” and “Return to the 36th Chamber”. Her defining role was as the lead in 1982’s “My Young Auntie” for which she won the Best Actress Award at the 1st Hong Kong Film Awards. Still active today, in recent years she has appeared in the martial arts horror movie “Rigor Mortis” and opposite Donnie Yen in “Dragon/Wuxia“.
Lam Fai-wong plays “Wu Nai-shing”, Hung’s Shaolin brother. He appeared in nearly 100 movies, including “The Avenging Eagle”, “Mad Monkey Kung Fu”, and “Cat vs Rat”. Former member of the Guangdong Wushu Team, Yeung Ching-ching plays Hung’s girlfriend, “Wiu Siu Ching”.
Following on from “Executioners of Shaolin”, kung fu brothers Wu and Hung kill the merciless Pai Mei. In a fit of equally merciless revenge, Pai Mei’s twin, Priest White Lotus kills the surviving Shaolin disciples, along with Wu, and also Hung’s girlfriend.
Wu’s pregnant wife Mei Ha and Hung are the only remaining practitioners of Shaolin left to avenge their deaths. Initially, Hung’s hard-style kung fu skills are ineffective against White Lotus. In order to defeat the infamous white eye-browed master, Hung must learn to incorporate a softer, more feminine style, if he has any chance of a successful attempt at revenge.
The kung fu fighting kicks off literally from the first frame as Hung and Wu take on the classic white-bearded opponent, Pai Mei.
As the key players are introduced we are treated to a beautiful jianshu performance from Yeung Ching-ching. Her authentic wushu skills are soon put into practice when the home of our heroes is attacked by dozens of White Lotus disciples.
Although there is some great choreography on display here, Yeung Ching-ching frequently strikes superfluous wushu poses. I can only guess that at the time, prior to the success of Jet Li‘s “Shaolin Temple” nearly two years later, the director wanted to show, what was then, something a little different to the traditional Shaw Brothers fighting styles.
The timing of some of the action in the fights throughout the film is truly astonishing. One of the leads can be fighting three or four opponents at once and yet duck or jump an attack from behind with inch-perfect timing, even though they can’t see it!
The training sequences purport to be the practice of Tiger Crane forms, but they tend to be played for laughs, or bias towards the flamboyant and outlandish, rather than strictly authentic kung fu techniques. Thankfully things are much more down to earth during the numerous fight scenes.
There is an emphasis on hand, rather than leg, techniques throughout. Kara Hui also gets to demonstrate her exceptional grace and skill when she gives Gordon Liu a lesson in a softer style of fighting.
The highlights of the action are Gordon Liu’s three main encounters with Lo Lieh, although Hung does seem to focus a lot on grabbing the priest’s, ahem, “junk”. We see Liu’s skills grow from hard-style fist fighting, evolving to adopt a softer, more fluid style, before having to adapt and overcome by employing some embroidery-fu and acupuncture!
88 Films have delivered another beautifully packaged classic on Blu-ray. Although short on extras, you can watch the movie with a classic English language dub, or with the original Cantonese soundtrack and subtitles that you can actually read (fans of the old VHS copies will know what I am talking about)!
The high-definition picture is crisp and clean with bold colours, belying the age of the film. The double-sided sleeve features the classic original poster art, and a stunning up-to-date interpretation from artist Kung Fu Bob.
The plot is simple enough, as is the acting, humour and drama, but a movie like this is all about the kung fu fighting, of which there is plenty! This is undoubtedly another Shaw Brothers classic from the dream team that was action director Lau Kar-leung and Gordon Liu.
Although it might not quite hit the high notes of films such as “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” or “The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter”, fans of the Shaw Brothers style will lap this up!
- Quentin Tarantino has stated that he is a fan of “Clan of the White Lotus”, and would go on to cast Gordon Liu as the character of Pai Mei in “Kill Bill: Vol 2”!
- “Clan of the White Lotus” is a loose sequel to/remake of “Executioners From Shaolin”.
- Released as “Fists of the White Lotus” in North America.
- The character of Pai Mei is based on the legendary Bak Mei (literally ‘White Eyebrow’). He is said to have been one of the Five Elders who survived the destruction of the Shaolin Monastery. According to some accounts, he betrayed Shaolin to the imperial government. He shares his name with the South Chinese martial art attributed to him.
- Pai Mei/Bak Mei has been fictionalised in Hong Kong martial arts films such as “Executioners from Shaolin” (1977), “Abbot of Shaolin” (1979), and here in “Clan of the White Lotus” (1980).