Executioners from Shaolin (1977)

Kuan Tai Chen, Lieh Lo, Yue Wong, Lily Li,
A couple unite - she is fluent in the crane style of kung fu, he in tiger style. They have a son, but the boy's father is killed by the evil eunuch Bai Mei. Disguised as a girl, his mom trains him in crane style while he secretly lea
  • 6.9 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Kuang Ni, Writer:
  • Chia-Liang Liu, Director:
  • Runme Shaw, Producer:
7 / 10

Vintage Kung Fu

A couple unite - she is fluent in the crane style of kung fu, he in tiger style. They have a son, but the boy's father is killed by the evil eunuch Bai Mei. Disguised as a girl, his mom trains him in crane style while he secretly learns tiger style from his father's training manual.

This was directed by Lau Kar-leung before his "36th Chamber" films, which are arguably some of the best-known kung fu movies ever made. I say "arguably" because my knowledge comes not from being a lover of martial arts films and more from knowing about these movies because of the Wu-Tang Clan (who, incidentally, I am also not really a fan of).

Everything you want is here. The different styles of martial arts (tiger and crane this time), and plenty of choreographed fights that look like complex dances, and the over-the-top sound effects to make each hit hit explosive. Definitely worth a watch for fans of the Shaw Brothers.

6 / 10

Too much comedy and romance, not enough kung fu.

Maniacal Manchurian Pai Mei (Lo Lieh) is so adept at kung fu that he can even retract his meat and two veg at will to avoid being crippled by a swift crack to the goolies; so when he and his henchmen attack the Jiu Lian Shan Shaolin temple and kill priest Chih Shan (Lai Hai-Shen), the rest of the Shaolin disciples wisely opt to run for the hills. The Manchurians give chase and many Shaolin men are killed, including brave brother Tong (Chia-Hui Liu), who sacrifices his own life (taking about a dozen arrows to the torso) in order to enable brother Hong Xi-guan (Kuan Tai Chen) to lead a group to safety.

These survivors take to the river on boats, posing as travelling performers. At a riverside village, Hong meets and falls for pretty martial artist Fang Yungchun (Lily Li) and the pair are wed. After an attack on the boats by Manchurian soldiers, Hong goes into hiding with his wife; the years pass and the couple have a son, Wending, who grows up learning his mother's style of kung fu: crane style. But when Hong eventually faces Pai Mei and is killed, Wending decides to learn Tiger style and uses it to avenge his father.

Executioners From Shaolin starts off in fine style with the Manchurian slaughter of the Shaolin disciples, which is nice and bloody, after which things really start to drag: while Hong and his men are in hiding, the film focuses more on comedy and romance than action, which soon gets tiresome. Once Wending is born, there are some reasonably fun training scenes, including Hong practising his martial arts on a bizarre metal statue that drops ball bearings from its groin, but the film is still lacking in decent fight action. Things look set to pick up when Hong faces Pai Mei, but apart from the unforgettable sight of the old Manchurian trapping his foe's foot with his groin (having shifted his wedding tackle elsewhere), there isn't much worthy of mention.

Sadly, the same goes for Wending's final smack-down with Pai Mei: after ascending the steps to the temple, knocking down numerous guards on the way (including Chia-Liang Liu reappearing as a fighter armed with a 3-sectional staff), Wending finally meets Pai Mei, killing him in one of the most abrupt endings I've ever seen in a martial arts film.

7 / 10

Be patient.

I had only just watched "Clan of the White Lotus" a month or two back, which could be seen (well in my eyes) as a more accomplished rehash of this particular period martial arts enterprise. Nonetheless the similarities in the story's structure (which is hard to pass by) doesn't matter because the Shaw Brothers and director Chia-Liang Liu along with actor Lieh Lo as the Kung Fu Master Pai Mei and minor cameo by Chia Hui Liu makes this one very enjoyable, downright flamboyant and utterly unique cult martial arts feature with a good sense of humour abound and dashing action. Pai Mei had just killed a Shoalin priest and surviving students led by Hung Hsi Kuan (ably acted by Kuan Tai Chen) vow vengeance for their master's death and that of fellow students. And it's no rush either. As Hung happily marries a strong-minded lady (a perfectly pitched Lily Li) who's well developed in the crane-style fighting and has a son while spending many years perfecting the skills and stamina of the tiger-style fighting before taking on master white brow. Cheng Kang-Yeh provides a cheeky performance as one the Shoalin students and Wang Yu is quite good as the grown up son. The pacing can be rather bumpy (especially in the leisured midsection concentrating more on the trivial aspects in the character dramas that hold the narrative), but when it came down to the atypical fighting it was excitingly displayed with verve-like camera-work working around the smooth, but tough choreography with numerous, long encounters. Maybe repetitive but never dull, although the ending is a little disappointing in the way it just seems to finish hastily.

7 / 10

Brutality at its best!

The Shaw Brothers have made a bunch of kung fun movies in their lifetimes, not a single one has left me bored. In "Executioners from Chaplin", a couple bore a son whose father is trained in Tiger Boxing and a mother in Crane style. The son learns crane style kung fun, but he doesn't learn the tiger style until his father loses his life battling the eunuch tyrant Pai Mei(Lieh Lo). This brutal fighter has made his way killing anyone who would challenge his fighting style. He killed the father's master, he's killed the ones who's avenging him. So it's up to the son to get his revenge. Spending all his life learning to be warrior, he sets out to seek Pai Mei. Both men learn how to find Pai Mei's vitals. They were no good in the nether regions. And unlike his father, he was successful on getting PaI Mei. I think this movie has got a little humor in it as well. Before the son was born, the couple made their way following a side show when they met. The brothers kept their fighting skills intact throughout their lives. This movie was very entertaining, and very fun to watch. I found nothing to complain about here. A true gem here. 2 stars

8 / 10

One of best Chen Kuan Tai movie !

This to me is one of the two great kung-fu movies starring Chen Kuan Tai. Other being the Flying Guillotines. As a fan of Chen Kuan Tai's movies, this is one of my favorite kung-fu movie as well.

As you can see from the ratings, Chen Kuan Tai gets high ratings on most of his early movies. His elegant move and style is unlike typical kung-fu stars of this period or since. I'm sure there are still many Chen Kuan Tai fans out there in the world.

The story is about a battle where son succeeds where father lost, but it's not the usual vengeance or grudge match but somewhat of a quest and coming of an age story for the son.

This movie truly is one of the best classic kung-fu action movie. It starts off rather slow, but it starts to pick up after the son is born.

Watch it, and you won't be disappointed.