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    The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

    The 36th Chamber of Shaolin Poster
    The 36th Chamber of Shaolin Poster

    Released

    1979

    Runtime

    109

    The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

    What's it About

    After his family is slaughtered by a marauding band of Manchu troops, gentle Chinese scholar Liu (Liu) journeys to a Shaolin temple, intent on learning martial arts so he can exact revenge. Rebuffed at first, Liu is finally accepted as a novice. After years of excruciating endurance tests and rigorous training, he becomes the temple's greatest practitioner. But when he demands to instruct the masses in the art of self-defense, he is cast out.

    Why we love it

    Thanks to its intense young star and a script that emphasizes the slow, painstaking development of a Shaolin warrior, Chia-Liang Liu's "36th Chamber" is regarded as one of the finest kung-fu movies of the 1970s. Its patriotic political subtext — resistance to Manchu aggression in the early Qing dynasty, and Liu's forbidden efforts to raise an army from the Cantonese peasants — is ripe, and probably resonated with Chinese audiences. But it's our sense of identification with Liu as he progresses from the lowest chamber (floor scrubbing) to the highest (boxing a giant iron pendulum) that really leaves an impression today.

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