North and South Shaolin
[original title: Nan Bei Shao Lin (1986)]

China - 1986

Movie Review By Blue Velvet

In 1986 after having directed over twenty Hong Kong martial arts films, director Lau Kar Leung took on yet another film project. What set this new project apart was that the film, "North and South Shaolin," was to be set entirely in Mainland China which was then a rarity for Hong Kong directors. Using a relatively unknown Mainland cast which included twenty-three year old Kung Fu powerhouse Jet Li, Leung's job was to craft the last film of the Shaolin Triology, an action series intended to introduce Jet's mastery to the world. Rising up to the challenge, Leung's "North and South Shaolin" combined the majestic setting of Mainland China, slapstick Hong Kong humor, and the ripe brilliance of Jet Li to put a crowning touch on the Shaolin Trilogy.

Jet stars as Zhi Ming, a Northern Shaolin monk with a boyish demeanor and a talent for ferocious Kung Fu. Although having committed his life to the monastic order, Zhi secretly seeks to avenge his parents' death by plotting the end of their murderer, a corrupt lord named He Suo. Zhi sees his chance when Lord Suo throws a lavish party in the Forbidden City. Zhi poses as a party performer and just when he is about to complete his lifelong mission of vengeance, two Southern Shaolin hit people accidentally thwart Zhi's operation. This pair, a young man and woman, had made identical plans as Zhi to kill Lord Suo. The defeated threesome band together and run for their lives. Despite the different styles and customs between Northern and Southern Shaolin temples, the three combine their forces and wage battle after battle against Lord Suo's armies. With authentic flair, the fight scenes in "North and South Shaolin" are in epic proportions. Warfare breaks out on the Great Wall, in the Forbidden city, and even upon a magnificent double-decker Chinese river queen.

Originally entitled "Martial Arts of Shaolin," "North and South Shaolin" is a rare film with only a few prints circulating around the globe. Fans of Jet Li and of period Kung Fu movies should make a sojourn to see Jet's first brush with Hong Kong filmmaking.

© 1997 ï Blue Velvet ï Air Date: 08/06/97

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