Executioners from Shaolin (1977)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2005-11-07
Summary: Great historical offering from Liu Chia Liang
Executioners from Shaolin is an expertly-paced, martial arts fightfest from Liu Chia Liang. Telling the historically based story of aftermath of the destruction of Shaolin temple, Liu weaves the tale around the fierce Hung Sze Kwan (Chen Kuan Tai) and his development of the Tiger Claw style. After escaping from the burning of Shaolin temple by Pai Mei and the Qing troops, Hung and some of his fellow students travel around China via "red boats" putting on shows combining acrobatics and politically disruptive plays. After the government is able to track down and kill some of the students, Hung meets Yung Chun (Lily Li Li Li), a master of the White Crane style, and they settle down in marriage. Eventually Yung Chun bears him a son (Wong Yu), but still Hung spends night and day perfecting his Tiger Claw style in order to confront Pai Mei and exact revenge for his master's death. After an initial challenge ends in near disaster, Hung must work even harder to figure out Pai Mei's body protection technique and fulfill what he believes to be his ultimate purpose - the destruction of Pai Mei and the restoration of respect to the Shaolin name.

This is a classic film for fans of Chinese and traditional martial arts history. Liu Chia Liang once again proves that he is the master of bringing true martial arts training and fight choreography to the big screen in a convincing and exciting style. Although I am not a huge fan of Chen Kuan Tai's acting, he does a good job in his portrayal of the aging and obsessed Hung. However, it is Lo Lieh who steals the show as the legendary Master White Brows Pai Mei. Lo is incredibly menacing and seemingly indestructible in his fight scenes, and the sound effects of his fighting style and ability to move his chi from his lower to upper body will be instantly recognizable to classic Kung Fu theatre fans. Although Wong Yu is a bit annoying (and strangely dressed as a girl even in his twenties), his fighting scenes are enjoyable as well. Definitely recommended for all fans of martial arts films.

Reviewer Score: 8