Shaolin Wooden Men (1976)
Reviewed by: MrBooth on 2003-02-24
Summary: Pretty Good
Sorry to disagree with Inner Strength once again, but I quite enjoyed this one. Not brilliant, but a cut above average for the pre-Drunken Master Jackie Chan. The story is somewhat interesting and unusual, with Chan playing a mute who goes to learn kung fu at Shaolin some years after witnessing his father's murder. Of course, he wants to take revenge. However, his progress at Shaolin is not good and he's treated with little regard by his peers... that is until he begins learning from a renegade monk who is kept in shackles in a forbidden area of the temple. With his new skills, he is able to pass through the hall of wooden men and leave the temple to go out into the world once more.

Things get more interesting from there - though if you've read the synopsis that comes on the Columbia Tristar disc you've already had the ending spoiled (at least on the Netflix envelope, which I assume to be taken from the case).

Unfortunately, the Columbia DVD is the biggest problem with this movie. Yes it's anamorphic, but it's clearly sourced from a poor multi-generation VHS copy with terrible colours and almost no detail, especially in dark scenes. Compared to the relatively good work they've done on some of the other early Chan movies, this disc is very disappointing. At least it has Mandarin sound and optional English subtitles (literally translated rather than dubtitled here, showing that they do listen to criticisms at least).

Because of this, I can only recommend SHAOLIN WOODEN MEN to the fairly dedicated Jackie Chan fan. It is nice to see an unusual performance for him (his only mute role?), and there are some well choreographed fights. It's not so good that it's worth sitting through such a crap DVD unless you're decidedly keen though.

MrBooth's Movie Review Website - The 14 Amazons