Five Shaolin Masters, (a.k.a. 5 Shaolin Masters or 5 Masters of Death) is quite a different style of Shaw Brothers all together. For the most part the majority of the film is shot outdoors and not in an indoor set. Directed by Chang Cheh (The One-Armed Swordsman) and produced by Run Run Shaw, five Shaolin Masters has an incredible cast. The version I watched was sadly English Dubbed, was titled 5 Shaolin Masters, and credited the famous Ka-Yan Leung as Liang Chi-Jen (he has also gone as Leung Kar Yan and Bryan Leung) It’s no wonder I get so confused with these movies sometimes! Five Shaolin Masters runs at 105 minutes and breaks up fight scenes with long journey shots, training montages, and scenes of the five heroes recruiting a resistance movement. The one troupe that this movie avoided was finding/returning to a wise old master to get more training as the Shaolin Temple was destroyed by the Manchu’s they are the only members of Shaolin left.
There isn’t a lot of character development in the movie, which is a shame. Hu Te-ti (David Chiang) is the leader of the five survivors and seems reluctant to make many decisions. Ma Chao-Hsing (Fu Sheng) is the immature younger member and he is given a bit more screen time and character development than the other four. The villain Chien San (the legendary Leung Kar Yan) is playing a bog standard bad guy and he isn’t given any time to act at all, which was disappointing. Wang Lung-Wei also had a bit more screen time but he just played the role of tratorist thug and no explanation behind his motives. But hey who needs motives with such an action packed movie!
The action sequences are above par which comes as now surprise as the Lau brothers where the Fight Choreographers. Lau Kar Leung and his brother Lau Kar Wing have starred in, directed and choreographed some of the best films in Martial Arts Cinema history!
The Good Guys!
Fu Sheng (Shaolin Martial Arts, The Brave Archer 1-3, The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter, ) as Ma Chao-Hsing
Ti Lung (Return Of The One-Armed Swordsman, Return Of The Sentimental Swordsman. Three Kingdoms – Resurrection Of The Dragon) as Tsai Te-Chung
Meng Fei (Snake Crane Secret, The Flying Fox of Snowy Mountain 1991, 18 Shaolin Disciples) as Fang Ta-Hung
Chi Kuan-Chun (The Shaolin Avengers, Eagle’s Claw, Seven Swords) as Li Shih-Kai
David Chiang (Return Of The One-Armed Swordsman, The Water Margin, The Wandering Swordsman, The Twin Dragons, Once Upon A Time In China II, Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils 2013) as Hu Te-ti
The Bad Guys!
Leung Kar Yan (credited as Liang Chia-Jen) (Return Of The One-Armed Swordsman, Eagle’s Claw, The Return Of The Condor Heroes 1983, Seven Swordsman of Mount Heaven TV series, True Legend, Seven Assassins) as Chien San
Feng Ko-An (a.k.a. Fung Hack On) (Have Sword, Will Travel, The New One-Armed Swordsman, Prodigal Boxer, Shaolin Martial Arts, Last Hurrah For Chivalry, The Magnificent Butcher, Zu: Warriors From The Magic Mountain, Ip Man 2, 14 Blades, 7 Assassins) as Chang Chin-Chiu
Chiang Tao (a.k.a Kong Do) (The Iron Bodyguard, Shaolin Martial Arts, Ten Tigers Of Shaolin, The Young Avenger, Return To The 36th Chamber) as General Chen Wen-Yao
Tsai Hung (a.k.a. Choi Wang) (The One Armed Boxer, Revenge Of The Iron Fist Maiden, Shaolin Deadly Kicks, The Brave Archer 1 & 2, Revenge Of The Shaolin Master) as Pao Yu-Lung
Wang Lung-Wei (Shaolin Temple, The Brave Archer 1 & 2, Dirty Ho, The Kid With The Golden Arm, Return To The 36th Chamber, Shaolin Vs Wu Tang, The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter) as Ma Fu-Yi
City on Fire review
Far East Films review