Review: Two Champions of Shaolin (1980)


Starring Lo Meng, Lu Feng, Chiang Sheng, Qian Xiaohao

Fight Choreography by Philip Kwok, Lu Feng, Chiang Sheng

Directed by Chang Cheh

The Shaw Brothers films, particularly the films of Chang Cheh, loved to cover the battles between the Shaolin and Wu-Tang Clans, and here we have another such film as Chang Cheh continues his ongoing bloody saga with his Venoms (his new stars that were in the classic film Five Deadly Venoms). So how does it stack up with his other films?

Two Champions of Shaolin follows Tung Chien Chien (Lo Meng) known throughout the land as the Shaolin Hercules who seeks out the Wu Tang in order to exact revenge for his masters. He finds them and is quickly injured due to the throwing knives of Li Detong. Tung is taken in by two former Wu-Tang, Chin Tailel and his sister. He soon meets Hu Wei Chien, a fellow Shaolin student, and together they go after the Wu Tang, but revenge is a cyclical thing, and Tung and Hu Wei both are swept up in a whirlwind of death and loss. But their Wu Tang enemies will be swept up as well…

I’ve been watching films with Lo Meng for a long time, but this film really let’s Lo Meng strut his stuff. His acting was never really the greatest, but it never had to be, as he usually plays a variation of the kung-fu macho meathead. He’s still playing this part in this film, but he gets to add more layers to that character type. Chiang Sheng is also playing the playful, silly kung fu fighter he always plays, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! I noted that several times throughout the film the name of Pei Mei came up. One of the greatest kung-fu villains ever is never far from Chang Cheh’s mind! The camera work is standard for Shaw Brothers films, meaning everything is clear and concise, and you can absolutely see all of the gorgeous fights with timely editing.

 

The fights are plentiful and well-choreographed, with the standouts being the tournament challenge (which ends with a poor guy getting his balls forcibly removed) and of course the final fights, which are as spectacular and operatic as Chang Cheh’s films normally are (they aren’t called heroic bloodshed for nothing) and the pacing of each of the final three fights compliment each other, and offers a different fight style for each finale, until they join into a bloody yet satisfying ending.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

Chang Cheh delivers another crowd-pleasing kung fu film, and allows Lo Meng the spotlight to shine with great action scenes and an ending worthy of Shakespeare…if he wrote kung fu movies. 

 

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