Director: Cheung Sing Yim
Cast: Jet Li, Wong Chiu Yin, Hu Chien Chiang, Yu Hai, Yu Cheng Wai, Din Nan, Ji Chuan Wah, Sun Jien Hwu, Liu Huai Liang
Running Time: 99 min.
This is a sequel to Shaolin Temple in name only; there is no continuation of the first film. In fact, it barely has anything to do with the Shaolin temple. It would probably be better off, were this not the case. The film is about two families, one of which consists of a bunch of boys (Jet Li being the eldest) cared for by their uncle, the other of which just can’t seem to produce a male heir; each newborn daughter is valued at 10 cows. Wonder what the legions of soccer moms would say to that?
The story may not be garden variety chop socky fare, but it still doesn’t warrant a whole lot of elaboration. The characters are subject to some of the wildest mood swings you’ve ever seen, and the villains are a gang of bandits that are so laughably “opposite of badass” that it’s impossible to imagine them winning (it takes them a whole decade to come up with the awe-inspiring plan of getting revenge on the Dragon family by turning the Phoenix family against them. What, exactly, were they doing in the meantime…working for Miramax?). Sloppy writing rears its ugly head in other ways, like Jet and San Feng apparently gaining the temporary power of either invisibility or teleportation to escape an execution. Also, when the Phoenix patriarch finally gets a son, he’s so overjoyed that he kisses and plays with the newborn kid’s penis. Next stop for him: the Catholic priesthood (oh, man, that was low, even for me. See you in Hell).
Despite these shortcomings, you just gotta appreciate a movie where a whole shitload of characters fight like hell for 20 minutes or so at the end, partially making up for the lack of serious action in the rest of the film. You can skip ahead to that part without missing anything really entertaining; most of the brats will just annoy you.
Numskull’s Rating: 5/10