Film lovers and critics went out of their way to praise this Liu Chia-liang version of the Shaolin destruction and revenge epic. Many called it the preeminent kung-fu director’s best and certainly his greatest on the theme of history, martial arts, and family. Little wonder, since, beyond the Shaolin story, it also shows how Liu’s own family style of kung-fu, Hung Fist, was created. There are unforgettable sequences throughout, highlighted by Hung Hsi-kuan (the mighty Chen Kuan-tai) and Fang Yung-chun’s (the wonderful Lily Li) wedding night … where the lovers inexorably test their Tiger and Crane kung-fu styles in a symbolic treatment of a couple’s power struggles. Almost equally unforgettable are the training sequences and a full three titanic confrontations with the White-Browed Hermit (the impressive Lo Lieh), betrayer of the Temple. The critics were right: Liu has out-done himself…as usual!
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