Two Champions of Shaolin (1980)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2006-09-04
Summary: Shaolin vs Wu Tang Chang Cheh brutality...
In the seemingly never-ending conflict between Shaolin and Wudang, Tong Qianjin (Lo Meng) is dispatched from the temple to seek revenge for the killing of his parents by Manchu soldiers. After a close encounter with the knife-throwing Li Dezong (Chui Tai-Ping), he takes refuge with a brother and sister (Sun Chien and Yeung Jing-Jing) who have developed a technique to defeat Li. Consequently, after doing so, Tong is targeted by the rest of the Wudang clan for death. Wudang calls in the help of the powerful Gao Jinzhong (Lu Feng) and the three Yuan brothers, all highly skilled masters of various disciplines. Meanwhile, Tong has befriended another Shaolin disciple, Hu Huigan (Chiang Sheng), and they set off to find other students and sympathizers. After getting word their temple and master have been killed, the “Two Champions” and others set out for a final conflict with Wudang but, unbeknownst to them, may have already been led into a deadly trap.
Interestingly enough, I’ve been searching on and off for this movie for about 20 years. In the early 80s, I remember seeing it on Saturday morning (a seemingly universal experience for my generation) and being struck by the brutality of one scene in particular. (The two scenes I remember most vividly from my Kung Fu Saturdays were this and Lo Lieh’s twisting palm attack on Gordon Liu’s stomach in Clan of the White Lotus). I, of course, had no idea I was witnessing a typical Chang Cheh bloodfest, but even today the scene is extraordinarily graphic. During the final fight Chiang Sheng, wielding a weapon called a hard whip, leaps over the head of an adversary, striking him in the back of the head on the way down. What I can only surmise is spinal and brain fluid shoots out with the force of a water hose from the man’s head before he falls to the ground, face down with thick fluid leaking from his crushed skull.
The entire film has an overwhelming sense of doom and death surrounding it. The Wudang villains all (save for Chin Siu-Ho) have no mercy for their foes, and the two Shaolin leaders are not much more morally superior. People are killed in all sorts of manners, from a relatively benign strangulation to the more inventive tearing out of a character’s crotch. The story itself is a bit complicated, with a multitude of characters and loyalties to be sorted out. However, the film is buoyed by a series of lightning fast and expertly choreographed fight scenes involving the main characters. This essentially being a Venom film (sans Phillip Kwok and Wai Pak), it is expected that the action would be plentiful and exciting, and it does not disappoint. I would recommend it on the fight scenes alone and the additional fact that the extra-curricular activities do not take away from the battles. MrBooth is correct, though, regarding the lack of attractive characters. It seems that everyone has a mop-top, and there was no makeup on the set to distract from the crooked teeth and bad complexions. However, all is forgotten once the fists start flying and the blood begins to flow towards a cruel and dark conclusion.
Reviewer Score: 8