The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (Shaolin Master Killer) (1978)
October 9, 2015 6:01 AM - Subscribe

"The anti-Ching patriots, under the guidance of Ho Kuang-han, have secretly set up their base in Canton, disguised as school masters. During a brutal Manchu attack, Lui manages to escape and..." The classic about learning from monks and maybe teaching a little something to monks, too. With the greatest training scenes of all time.
posted by ignignokt (34 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
oh man I've been waiting for an excuse to re-watch this

Is there a wuxia Fanfare club?
posted by griphus at 6:46 AM on October 9, 2015

I'd join!
posted by ignignokt at 6:53 AM on October 9, 2015

In my memory 90% of the movie is crossing those pits at dinner.
posted by nom de poop at 10:39 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I forgot that this movie starts with waterfall punching. Always the sign of good things to come.

Also, kung fu against a solid color background? I think I need a screensaver like that.
posted by ignignokt at 5:27 PM on October 9, 2015

Jumping off a roof to smash open palanquin with an axe. That's on my bucket list.
posted by ignignokt at 5:30 PM on October 9, 2015

The rebel general is either really strong or that's a really light poleaxe.
posted by ignignokt at 5:31 PM on October 9, 2015

God it would be so tempting to slap people all the time if it made that kind of sound.
posted by ignignokt at 5:35 PM on October 9, 2015

"He likes to kill for no reason."
posted by ignignokt at 5:36 PM on October 9, 2015

"I should have learned kung fu instead of ethics!"
posted by ignignokt at 5:49 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

The opening really holds back on light. It's all overcast or night scenes. Lots of blacks and desaturation. When they first leave town, you really do feel like you've seen the sun for the first time in a long time.
posted by ignignokt at 5:51 PM on October 9, 2015

Shaolin loves bok choy.
posted by ignignokt at 5:56 PM on October 9, 2015

Ah, Senior Nemesis Monk was introduced earlier than I remember. His first appearance is as the skeptic who says they shouldn't let San Te stay at the temple.
posted by ignignokt at 5:59 PM on October 9, 2015

"There are 35 Chambers here."
posted by ignignokt at 6:01 PM on October 9, 2015

Probably worth being a senior monk so you can smile at the foolish things the unlearned say. What a great expression.
posted by ignignokt at 6:02 PM on October 9, 2015

The 35th Chamber makes Buddhism seem cool as hell. Saying cool sutras, hitting wood blocks, making some mouth sounds. Being able to Force Push noobs is pretty sweet, too.
posted by ignignokt at 6:05 PM on October 9, 2015

Watching San Te repeatedly miss lunch because he keeps falling off of the logs is making me hungry.
posted by ignignokt at 6:11 PM on October 9, 2015

Yay, he did it and got a knowing nod from afar! And buddy back-pats.
posted by ignignokt at 6:12 PM on October 9, 2015

I hope knives attached to you arms so that if you lower the buckets you're carrying you get stabbed in the side becomes some kind of Crossfit trend or something.
posted by ignignokt at 6:18 PM on October 9, 2015

This weird wrist strengthening exercise where you hold a long pole with the heavy weight at the end of it could also be a Crossfit thing. Except here, once you've mastered it, you never do it again.
posted by ignignokt at 6:22 PM on October 9, 2015

Oh, man, he's gonging so good with the crazy weighted pole now!

This is what people want to believe skill progression is like, which is part of the appeal of this movie.
posted by ignignokt at 6:25 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sci-fi laser sound effects when the eye chamber monk opens his eyes don't really go with this movie. But, they're pretty hilarious.
posted by ignignokt at 6:26 PM on October 9, 2015

Really athletic eye acting from Gordon Liu here.
posted by ignignokt at 6:27 PM on October 9, 2015

BWOOOP! Now San Te has the laser eyes.

"Hit only those poles with reflections."

An Enter the Dragon mirror-maze-style scene. I think these are tense because success is a matter of fast and accurate perception. Unlike feats of strength, that's something we all feel we can do. In fact, we can kind of play along at home.

"I've had a great many students. You are the best one yet." Mentally, I have to add "Harry Potter."
posted by ignignokt at 6:33 PM on October 9, 2015

First bit of overt tenderness shown to San Te, from the headbutt chamber master. Actually lets him in on what his "career path" is if he succeeds as part of a pep talk.
posted by ignignokt at 6:34 PM on October 9, 2015

Man, monks may offer harsh tutelage, but they also set up hoops of fire for you to kick pots through. This is a world-class facility.
posted by ignignokt at 6:38 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

I had no idea that rotating a staff in tight circles was so critical to good staff fighting.
posted by ignignokt at 6:40 PM on October 9, 2015

Five years at Shaolin. I guess back then you could spend five years on a problem.
posted by ignignokt at 6:42 PM on October 9, 2015

Senior Skeptic Monk is pretty intimidating. Gotta suck to have a guy suddenly call you out and ask you to defeat his swords at your promotion meeting.
posted by ignignokt at 6:43 PM on October 9, 2015

Even though it's an old-fashioned sound effect, even for 1978, the "horn" that sounds every time Senior Monk touchés San Te is very alarming, effective.
posted by ignignokt at 6:46 PM on October 9, 2015

"What weapon is he using?"
"Some fighting-sticks he made himself."
posted by ignignokt at 6:47 PM on October 9, 2015

The magic of this movie is that it totally convinces you that something as ridiculous the three-section stuff can do these amazing yo-yo tricks to swords. So good.
posted by ignignokt at 6:51 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

"I want to create a new chamber. Shaolin skills are confined here. In my view, that is a pity."

This movie reveres the traditional, but also people who shake up institutions.
posted by ignignokt at 6:52 PM on October 9, 2015

Third act: San Te now wears the senior monk uniform and returns to his ravaged hometown.
posted by ignignokt at 6:56 PM on October 9, 2015

And that's how Shaolin became a real boy.
posted by nom de poop at 8:13 PM on October 9, 2015

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