AKA: Ten Brothers of Shaolin
Director: Ting Chung
Producer: Ting Chung, Wong Fung
Cast: Chia Ling, Don Wong Tao, Chang Yi, Wong Fei Lung, Lau Lap Cho, Phillip Ko Fei, Leung Kar Yan, Stephen Tung Wai, Luk Yat Lung, O Yau Man, Chen Chiu, Ga Hoi, Shaw Luo Hui, Au Lap Bo, Yim Chung, Woo Gwong, Man Man, Lung Fong, Lam Mong Nam, Wong Goon Hung
Running Time: 86 min.
Wang Tao stars as a disciple of the Shaolin temple who must escort a high ranked official to a rendezvous location with his comrades, all the while fighting off an opposing force who wants the official dead. This Shaolin disciple is not alone in his task: his 9 “brothers” (also skilled fighters from the temple) secretly provide help along the way to ensure a safe journey. “10 Brothers of Shaolin” takes this story, a closeline for great moments of action, and runs face first into a brick wall with it. The film insists on racing through as many ideas and scenarios as possible, which means there are a good deal of characters who are easily forgotten, characters who are useless but have much screen-time, and a lame soap opera story that becomes blurred to the point where the two main characters seem to be aimlessly wandering around. The title is misleading: it is a shame the filmmakers didn’t create a better movie involving an actual band of 10 brothers pitted against a ruthless, threatening enemy.
Like several other kung-fu movies, “10 Brothers of Shaolin” has an abundance of moments that could have been exciting or at least interesting. In this movie, the various settings throughout the story would have been excellent for action sequences, but instead are rarely and poorly utilized. The entire film is darkly shaded with deep colors and shadows that bring out an ugly, harsh feeling to the screen (This is particularly evident in a death scene involving a patch of bamboo trees). Attempting to offer something new, the movie employs a chase sequence that, like most of the action, is not amusing or really thoughtful. However, the roaring soundtrack is very good and deserves to be accompanied with a better picture (The great theme song is: see Jackie Chan’s 1978 film “Drunken Master”). And above all, what makes a kung-fu movie like this a kung-fu movie are the fight scenes- “10 Brothers of Shaolin” offers no satisfaction.
Midway through the film, two fights occur that can be called weak but nonetheless better than duration of the movie, and that is all the audience will receive. The short lengthed and quick ending is an absolute let-down to top off this unorganized and disappointing chopsockie. This is the second movie I’ve seen that stars Wang Tao, and I begin to wonder how successful he was overseas. There is a look and presence he brings to the screen that suggests we’re watching a slapstick Bruce Lee. In the future, I would most definitely enjoy seeing this apparently skilled martial artist assume the lead role in a movie that knows he’s the lead role and that allows him to get his face dirty.
Milkcan’s Rating: 5/10