Return to the 36th Chamber
review by Jerome
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Tagline: The film’s comedy maybe a little cheesy, but for the true martial arts fan this is tops…
Review by Jerome: The original 36th Chamber of Shaolin proved to be so popular that a sequel was called for. But master martial arts filmmaker Lau Kar Leung eschewed the plot and characters of the original to create a delightful all-new story, which showcased his adoptive brother as a hapless loser… that is until he is convinced to help repair the run-down Shaolin Temple. Only then does he unknowingly learn a new kind of construction kung fu to liberate his townspeople from the persecuting Manchus!
The Chinese title in Cantonese is Siu Lam Saam Sap Luk Fong Juk Jaap: Siu Lam Taap Pang Daai See, which directly translates as The 36th Chamber Continued: The Great Scaffolding Master.
Gordan Lau doesn’t reprise his role as Saam Dak from the first film but plays a conman by the name of Zhou Ren Jie / Jau Yan Git. He is a friend with a group of die factory workers (played by many of Lau Gar Leung’s regulars Kara Hui, Hsiao Hou, Chen Szu Chia) whose boss played by Shaw Bros villain, Wang Lung Wei has hired ten Manchurians known as “the Manchu ten poles” to speed production. In the process the Han Chinese are given a 10% pay cut. With the workers unhappy with the prospects of getting a pay cut, they ask Zhou Ren Jie to impersonate the great Shaolin Monk, Saam Dak in the hope of convincing the boss to restore their wages.
On the very first occasion, he is able to fool the Manchu workers into believing he is a great kung fu master by playing all sorts of tricks, but is found out to be a fraud when confronting the boss of the factory. After being defeated and humiliated he is convinced by his friends to go to the Southern Shaolin temple to learn real kung fu.
Putting to use his ‘bag of tricks’ he manages to impersonate a Northern Shaolin lay disciple in order to learn the martial secrets of the Southern Shaolin. However, Abbot Saam Dak directly sees through his impersonation of a Northern Shaolin lay disciple.
Jau Yan Git for his deception is put to work setting up scaffolding for the temple as punishment. Little does he realise that he is actually learning the basic routines for kung fu. As he does the scaffolding he imitates the many lay disciples practising their Hung Gar Kung fu. Later on after he is dismissed from the temple, he returns back to his hometown to visit his old friends not knowing that what he has learnt in his time away is kung fu. He tests it out and decides to show the die factory boss, just how much a fraudster can do.
The fights are very innovative, combining bamboo-scaffolding techniques with those of the many Hung Gar kung fu routines. The comedy is cheesy but very adequate. In one scene Lau Gar Fai gives a Buddhist monk laxative in a bowl of water so he can take his place.
Wang Lung Wei, typically known for playing villainous roles shows off some great skill using the traditional bench as a weapon…Believe it or not it is one of many traditional Chinese weapons used in the film!
We also get to see the traditional training tools such as the wooden dummies, obstacle courses to train the human senses, stances and footwork.
The region 3 dvd from IVL is packed with some nice extras. These include Cast and Crew Biographies, Behind the Scenes Picture Galleries, Trailers and a documentary on Scaffolding hosted by Gordan Lau.
The film’s comedy maybe a little cheesy, but for the true martial arts fan this is tops… (Jerome 2008)
I rate it 7.5/10
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