These days when people think of monks the image that comes to mind invariably falls into one of two categories. Some imagine docile men in robes chanting Gregorian tunes, and others probably picture Tony Shalhoub washing his hands. But once upon a time monks did far more than sell millions of cds and/or solve crimes. Once upon a time they used their meditative, agricultural, and martial arts skills to stand up against tyranny.
Or maybe they didn’t. I have no clue in the matter, but if the trailer for the recent blockbuster, Shaolin, has any truth to it these men were bad ass mothers when push came to shove. The film is set in the 1920’s after China’s last imperial Dynasty has come to an end. Warlords control the land, and none are more ruthless than Hoe Jie (Andy Lau), but when he’s betrayed by one of his own and left with nothing he’s forced to seek solace and redemption at the legendary Shaolin Temple. He learns a new attitude and appreciation for both life and the living, but when his enemies return to finish the job they started he’ll stand with the monks in the most important battle they’ve ever faced.
Check out the new trailer below for CineAsia’s upcoming release of Shaolin.
My preference is always with contemporary action films over period pieces, but this looks pretty damn good. Lau has always been a strong performer no matter the genre, and if recent movies like the stellar Detective Dee and the Mystery Of the Phantom Flame are any indication he’s still in top form. Jackie Chan has a supporting role here, but it’s guaranteed to be far more creative and entertaining than anything he’s done in the US recently. As great as Chan is though the guy is getting up there in years, so it’s nice to see the film also stars Nicholas Tse and the always awesome Wu Jing.
Director Benny Chan is hit and miss… his last film, City Under Siege, is ridiculously bad. But other recent titles of his include Connected, Invisible Target, and New Police Story, all three of which are fantastic action films.
CineAsia, a UK label specializing in Asian ass-kickery, is releasing Shaolin on DVD and Blu-ray on September 12th. They can be pre-ordered through AmazonUK, and while the DVD is region2 the Blu-ray is region-free.