Vivendi Visual Entertainment // 1985 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 16th, 2010
More wackiness from the vast Shaw Brothers' vault.
Kung Fu cinema legend Gordon Liu returns to the role he rode to icon status: San Te, a Shaolin master who prefers to do his ass-kicking in as little clothing as possible. Beating down fools is not much of a challenge for a stud like San Te, but properly mentoring a wayward youth with a ton of chopsocky talent and crappy decision-making acumen...that's a pain in the balls.
That kid is Fong Sai-Yuk (yes, the Fong Sai-Yuk), played by Hsiao Hou. Sai-Yuk is full of piss and vinegar, but he has some sweet combat skills. Unfortunately, he falls in with a bad lot and no amount of tutelage or training can help dislodge him from the negative influences of the Manchu clan. So San Te suits up (or, rather, suits down) and leads the monks into a gigantic showdown.
Good little effort here from the prolific Shaw boys. Gordon Liu is a monster and Hsiao Hou is able to run with the big fella. 36th Chamber is fairly light-hearted, as Fong Sai-Yuk is presented as an impetuous youth with a lot of energy but not a lot of street smarts. As such, he finds himself in a series of amusing predicaments (not the least of which is a training sequence with logs in the Shaolin training pool). Eventually he rights the ship and throws down alongside San Te for the big battle.
A few nifty set-pieces preface the main event (the aforementioned log sequence, and a cool wire-assisted bout on an angled roof), but the centerpiece is definitely the monk vs. Manchu throwdown. It's a large-scale undertaking, featuring many extras (all wearing brightly colored clothes to inform us who's good and who's bad) smacking each other around on a huge set. Of course, the action often zeroes in on Liu and Hou, two guys who know their craft and execute it well.
Dragon Dynasty's DVD looks great; the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is clean and colorful, supplemented by a pair of mono tracks (Cantonese and English). The lone extra is a commentary from the always great Bey Logan, a knowledge warehouse on Hong Kong cinema.
Not Guilty. Monk power!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Cantonese)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1985
MPAA Rating: Not Rated