Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Summary: Enjoyable Five Venoms flick...
Invincible Shaolin is a classic Chang Cheh film, with a simple revenge plot fueled by great kung fu action. Released in the same year, but after Five Deadly Venoms, Cheh again capitalizes on the charisma of his leading men, casting Sun Chien, Chiang Sheng and Lu Feng as three masters from the Northern Shaolin temple that have been invited to demonstrate their skills to Ch'ing General Xu (Johnny Wang). Little do they know that General Xu has plotted to have the South Shaolin masters, who are there to participate in this impromptu kung fu skills competition, killed and blame the North, creating a war that will destroy both schools. After a quick confrontation between the two schools, General Xu meets with the South Shaolin masters and kills them all, using techniques that would implicate the Northern school. Then, he sends his weasely accomplice Hua Shun (Suen Shu Pau) to stir up the South and seek revenge. After hearing what befell his students at the hands of the North, the South school's Master Mai Qi (Chan Shen) makes his three brightest pupils (including his son) swear to take revenge at all costs. When their master dies, the three students (Lo Meng, Phillip Kwok and Wai Pak) set out to learn from legendary teachers the skills that will counteract the ones mastered by the North.
Reviewer Score: 8
Filled with the ever popular training sequences and a final, bloody fight, Invincible Shaolin is a film that many who love this genre will enjoy. The
leads are great and it is interesting to see the personalities that began in Five Deadly Venoms start to get fleshed out more in this movie. Lo Meng seems to embrace his role as the muscle-bound fighter, adopting the mantis style to use his power. Phillip Kwok and Chiang Sheng bounce around the screen with their "light body" technique, and Lu Feng is a scowling brawler bent on destroying opponents with his Iron Palms. Although the
leader of the North, Sun Chien has limited fights until he goes up against the underwhelming Wai Pak in a battle of high kicks vs Wing Chun. Johnny Wang is suitably devious as the scheming General Xu. The plot is intertesting (if not somewhat unbelievable) in the fact that neither school can figure out they've been set up until the very end. Even then, the fact that the Southern students have sworn to their master to take revenge leads the six to fight to the death, no matter what revelations may come out. Zhangcheng (Lo Meng), He Yingwu (Phillip Kwok) and Mai Feng (Wai Pak) are resigned to kill the three Northen students or die trying. Very fatalistic and frustrating, but an interesting twist. Definitely recommended for Five Venom fans as well as for all those who grew up watching these films on Saturday mornings.
Reviewed by: MrBooth
**1/2 INVINCIBLE SHAOLIN: Reckoned to be one of the best Venoms films? Well, guess I'm not much of a Venoms fan. Rather generic Shaolin film, with rivalries between North and South Shaolin engineered by the court. Lots of training scenes and some good acrobatics in the fights, but... not all that interesting, and the leads lack the charisma of Gordon Liu, Ti Lung or Yueh Hua for instance. Kuo Chui and Chiang Shiang are the only venoms I can actually identify by sight in fact.
Reviewer Score: 5
Reviewed by: hkcinema
A Ching dynasty emporer plots to rid the country of shaolin "rebels" by turning north against south. After tragic losses they kill the ching. At a first glance this film is Chang Cheh going through the motions. The action scenes are quality but this is largely due to the fact that the "venoms" team are performimg it. Cheh strays too far into the training side of the martial arts and comes off second best to more notable Liu Chia Liang productions. However, what is less apparant, but more important, is the departure from some of Cheh's usual themes and the addition of the notion of fate as the main focus. Redemption et. al. take a back seat. What is shown is that despite the students friendships and their knowledge that the blame lies with the Ching they must follow the line of action that has been set in motion. At any point they could feasably stop and not go through with killing each other. What the film says is that once a deed is done it sets of a whole chain of unavoidable events that must come around. This is strongly linked with the oriental/buddist notion of the wheel of fate. On a less critical note, the "masters" that appear in the film are in the classic Shaw mould of comically harsh teachers and make for high entertainment. Interesting.
[Reviewed by Andrew Best]