# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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Shanghai Grand (1996, Poon Man-Kit)

A big screen adaptation of the Chow Yun-Fat/Ray Lui TV series 'The Bund', a charismatic pairing in Andy Lau and Leslie Cheung plus excellent production values can't save a spectacle that lacks an emotional- and character-punch. God knows Poon Man-Kit and producer Tsui Hark try as they employ very fast moving and hyperstylized visuals. A modern tactic if you will that still manages to showcase the grand nature the period Shanghai setting requires. Couple that with bloody and entertaining gunplay choreographed by Stephen Tung and this seems like a winner. It would've been had Poon Man-Kit managed to make something out of the bloody friendship/brotherhood/love triangle type of drama but the attempts fall flat. Basic as conveyed, part impenetrable but ultimately not engaging, Shanghai Grand was aiming for a dramatic heroic bloodshed impact but that key component of drama is absent. It's all very pronounced and loud but that's not enough. Also with Ning Jing, Wu Hsing-Guo, Amanda Lee and Almen Wong.

Shanghai Heroic Story (1992) Directed by: Chris Lee

Chris Lee opens with some fairly elegant images to accompany his gangster story but soon it develops in that very thing, just another gangster story. This time set against the backdrop of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong with rebels trying to reclaim their land. Divided loyalties becomes the biggest plot point eventually. Lee tries to overcome his own shortcomings as a director through action but it barely registers as passable since dark cinematography, quick-cuts and close-ups are elements that dominate the fights. Things improve during the finale as the mayhem includes guns as well and our villain Damian Lau is a lot of fun to watch during these moments. Also with Roy Cheung and Vincent Wan.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Shanghai Massacre (1981) Directed by: Lee Tso-Nam

Deadly dull gangster action from Lee Tso-Nam that goes to prove he thrives and comes off as very creative only when the material is a bit more out there (akin to A Life Of Ninja for instance). Here the conflict between Chinese, Japanese and French are difficult to follow and a dignified performance by Wong Goon-Hung and decent dips into brutal violence does not help matters at all. Also with Elsa Yeung, Yasuaki Kurata, Lung Fei, Chen Hung-Lieh and Chen Sing. Also known as Big Boss.

The Shanghai Thirteen (1984) Directed by: Chang Cheh

What turned out to be last get together for some fighting between his old and more recent on-screen talent, Chang Cheh post-Shaw Brothers goes for the bare plot as an excuse for a constant stream of fighting centering around an escort mission of Mr. Gau (Chiang Ming) who carries with him a sought after document. Some nonsense about patriotism and Chang Cheh injecting forced drama (we get to know no one including Andy Lau but a romantic montage is still in order), you can still go with the basics because The Shanghai Thirteen was designed as a fighting showcase and it delivers. Several complex, gory and slow-mo death scenes together with doses of humour like a cigarette piercing someone's forehead, Wong Ching as a continually giggling fighter (fits as his smile is so wide) plus knowing there's a recognizable fighting cameo around every corner, we get the best for last in true fashion as Ti Lung goes head to head with Ricky Cheng. A mediocre film but one of Chang Cheh's last really good movies before giving us merely sporadic bursts of greatness in increasingly cheaper films before his directing career was over. Among others Jimmy Wang Yu, David Chiang, Chen Kuan-Tai, Danny Lee, Chi Kuan-Chun, Leung Kar-Yan and Chan Sing appear.

Shaolin And Taichi (1983) Directed by: Wu Chia-Chun

Criminally generic and designed simplistically to the T, this indie obviously doesn't care for making a mark on the genre. That's why it unashamedly features little story surprises, ranging from the coveted gold seal at the core of the story, brothers separated by birth only identifiable via half jade bracelets, drunken masters, the temptations of being a monk to moral values and further bla bla. While the production has invested in good acrobats that deliver the action choreography well when called upon to, Shaolin And Taichi needed to realize that it required some charisma somewhere. A few scenes being on the VERY truncated and illogical side doesn't help either.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

The Shaolin Avengers (1976, Chang Cheh)

Alexander Fu Sheng returns as Fong Sai Yuk but to my eyes, no homework watching the likes of The Shaolin Temple or Heroes Two is needed. The Shaolin Avengers stands on its own and really doesn't attempt anything but simplicity. A positive for this brief time with tons of martial arts, Chang Cheh opens with the end fight and then utilizes flashbacks to gradually complete the picture. The device isn't unique but adds a different flavor to HIS cinema. Ultimately existing for tropes such as blood soaked revenge, he runs through staples like training in order to quickly offer up more action. The majority of it being varied and impressive, with the more brutal and primal being imagery (mostly tinted in red for censorship purposes) that lingers. A stretch of a playful, lighthearted Fong Sai Yuk hurts momentum but it's temporary. Also with Chi Kuan-Chun, Bruce Tong, Lung Fei, Johnny Wang and Leung Kar-Yan.

Shaolin Boxers (1974) Directed by: Wong Daat

KENNETH'S REVIEW: Easy to sit through as it reaches just above the 70 minute mark but easy to dispose of and forget too, Shaolin Boxers was clearly never meant to be a standout coming from Golden Harvest. James Tien and fellow students protect the honor of their school and safety of their fellow villagers whilst fighting within boring Ching Siu-Tung choreography. Hon Gwok-Choi displays neat acrobatics in the sole worthwhile fight scene while Mars appears in a fighting cameo.

The Shaolin Brothers (1977) Directed by: Joseph Kuo

The output of 1977 by Joseph Kuo was pretty abysmal but out of the trio of The Shaolin Brothers, The Shaolin Kids and The 8 Masters, the latter even at the incredibly boring 90 minute length is heads and shoulders over the dynasty power struggles that essentially summarized the other flicks. Although appearing interesting initially as The Shaolin Brothers mixes in a hopping vampire storyline, despite being relatively unexplored in cinema by this point Kuo's handling of the cinema-friendly material (essentially shooting any moody scene in slooooooow motion and letting it run endlessly) is as boring as when the huge character gallery across the dynasties conspires and fights against each other. Essentially Ming rebels disguises as Taoist priests for a few reels while ruthless Ching general played by Carter Wong pursues. Only briefly showcasing intense and messy action in a compelling way, the scenes in particular towards the end are more than decent set pieces on their own but obviously lack impact in the whole scheme of things.

Shaolin Chastity Kung Fu (1981) Directed by: Robert Tai

Bandits terrorize a village. The inhabitants know kung-fu and everybody fights. Even the kids. Simple template and threatening to be very broad comedically, Robert Tai (Ninja The Final Duel) reels most of that in and goes for decent variety instead. The harsh looking training sequences (especially for the little ones) feel somewhat fresh for the genre and Tai neatly escapes the trappings of the low budget kung-fu picture by going for color. No fight truly feels like repetition, many feature creative wire work and acrobatics as well as a sense of power and violence. There's quality volume here, even if Shaolin Chastity Kung Fu is an example of a quick genre-fix that disappears from your consciousness immediately. Starring Alexander Lo Rei.

Shaolin Disciple (1980, Man Man)

Although it tries some actual filmmaking techniques and does not fully rely on the cliché structure of switching from serious to kung fu comedy, there's still nothing noteworthy here. That feeling lingers throughout because in all honesty, it's TOO rich on characters and sidetracks. Coherency-level drops, even though the sections containing possible supernatural elements increase the energy for a bit. Revenge, gold from a robbery is at the forefront but with poor exposition dumps and only flashes of intricate choreography (mainly during the swordplay ending), the movie fades really fast during and certainly after viewing. Starring Lau Ga-Yung, Kwan Hoi-San and Ku Feng.

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