Martial Arts

Ten Tigers of Shaolin

Distributed by: Mei Lam Film Production Company

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            I have often discussed how much I enjoyed those martial arts films of the 70s and early 80s, citing the Black Belt Theater as my favorite Saturday pastime in my youth.  Thus, when the opportunity came to check out Ten Tigers of Shaolin, a film from that era on DVD, I couldnít refuse.

            There isnít much of a plot to this film.  Basically, the local corrupt official has grown tired of his numerous underhanded operations being disrupted by the Ten Tigers, a group of well-known champion kung fu fighters.  Of course, the corrupt official vows to destroy the Ten Tigers and, as expected, the Ten Tigers are not about to go down without a fight.

            The dialogue in this film is equally lacking.  In fact, the first moments of dialogue amount to this: ďHey, youíre a dirty rat!Ē followed by, ďYou Bastard!Ē.  Then the fighting ensues.  And of course, there is that scene in which the hero of the film (Siu-Lung Leung) attempts to rescue the wife of one of his students.  She runs around in circles nude (an obligatory nude scene to be sure since it really has no bearing on the story and there is no reason for this woman to be nude at all) while the hero runs in circles behind her, calling out her name over and over and telling her he is here to rescue her.  [Sigh]

            However, itís not the storyline or the dialogue that makes you want to watch this film - itís the fighting.  Each of the Ten Tigers has its own unique style as does each of the bad guys.  I recognized some snake, crane, drunken master, tigerÖand there was even one style that I can only describe as crazy man having a fit.  The exhibitions of each style and the choreography of the fights are what makes Ten Tigers of Shaolin interesting.

            Unfortunately, they donít make it interesting enough.  I actually fell asleep during one of the major fight scenes in the film.  That almost never happens to me.  I did manage to stay awake for the finale fight, which takes up the final twenty plus minutes of the ninety minute film.  Much of that fight was a tad repetitive in my opinion.

             Although I have to admit that many of the martial arts films that I watched in my youth were lacking in plot and dialogue, I look back on them fondly as having been a lot of fun to watch.  I donít exactly look fondly on my experience with Ten Tigers of Shaolin.  Despite the intriguing display of a huge variety of fighting styles, the fact still remains that I fell asleep during the film.  I expected way too much when I popped this DVD in the player.  Unfortunately, Ten Tigers of Shaolin was quite the disappointment.


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