“SHAOLIN” 2011 (新少林寺) Movie PRESS PREVIEW
So it has come to pass, that the ever successful 1982 JET LI classic SHAOLIN TEMPLE finally earns a remake.
You just don’t leave good things alone, right?
That’s the name of the game these days, to keep the film industry going, to stay afloat of doldrums.
The buzzword is “re-makes”.
Or you can cleverly guise this as “an old title, a new treatment”.
The producers see gold if they can trade new ideas for old. So they pitched the feasibility of this “remake” to the investors, armed with an outstanding cast of A-Listers.
Hence the new SHAOLIN (新少林寺) is born.
It’s true blue KUNG FU all the way, and the film director BENNY CHAN has created a NEW STORY that focuses on the art of ZEN, a refreshed form of fighting style that stresses on “mind over matter” superseding gory violence.
He laces philosoply behind the fighting.
Chiefly because ANDY LAU is actor, not a fight star like JET LI.
In terms of regional promotions, ANDY LAU and film director BENNY CHAN boisterously arrived in MALAYSIA on January 19 to launch their USD 25 million dollar epic SHAOLIN, amid much fanfare.
Notably absent were other famous co-stars such as JACKIE CHAN, FANG BING BING and NICHOLAS TSE.
We learn that a portion of the production was shot in the 1,500 year old Shaolin temple whose famous fighting monks were featured previously in some notable Asian as well as Hollywood ventures.
Great, it surely adds a authentic touch of realism.
The period is set in the turbulent 1920s.
The subject of feuding warlords takes center stage in this martial arts offering.
ANDY LAU plays Hou Jie who is obnoxious, arrogant and unyielding, who has always been top-notched in battlefields, adding conceit to his conquests.
He devised an assassination plot, but is double-crossed by his second-in-command Cao Man (NICHOLAS TSE).
When his entire family is almost wiped out by the betrayal, he is forced to eat humble-pie and seeks refuge in the temple with the forgiving monks.
And it’s here that he learns a new perspective on life and faith.
Whether you believe this or not, in every man’s life some rain must fall and we can choose to be guided by this element called redemption.
Nobody does the right things all the time. But we must know when we have done wrong and seek penance.
NICHOLAS TSE plays the antagonist Cao Man, who’s all out to nail him.
As the civil unrest spreads like wildfire and the masses suffer, Hao and the Shaolin masters are forced to take a fiery stand against the evil warlords.
They launch a perilous plan of rescue and escape.
JACKIE CHAN does a cameo as a scruffy Shaolin chef, one who does not measure his own abilities in kungfu.
Actually he has inadvertently devised a superior skill through making mantou and noodle, and is responsible for giving ANDY LAU some pointers in the Buddhist faith.
SHAOLIN dispenses the formulaic CGI tricks and treads the old school martial arts genre, where less is more.
In the action department, JACKIE CHAN and ANDY LAU strut stuff they can be proud of, with their well-rehearsed slick, clean moves, displaying the beauty of KUNG FU.
But it is action actor WU JING with his version of awesome, stunning Kung Fu maneuvers that elbows his way into our hearts and minds as a righteous protector in the SHAOLIN temple.
He’s cool, this dude, and he steals the thunder from the veteran actors.
The strikingly beautiful FAN BIN BIN has little screen time in the role of Hou Jie’s wife. All she is expected to do is to wail and cry all the time, when things go awry.
ANDY LAU pitches in a fine performance as a tormented warlord driven initially by glory and greed, then to watch helplessly as his entire old world falls apart.
He is this demented man embracing atonement for his past sins.
He seeks sanctuary in a temple where he once condemned as a lowly abode.
Suddenly he’s made to realize that wealth and power are not everything in life. They do not provide peace of mind.
And KUNG FU is an act of self-defense, in line with the true Buddhist teaching.
Hong Kong filmmaker Benny Chan, who worked with Jackie Chan on New Police Story and Rob-B-Hood, is the film director.
SHAOLIN the movie is entertaining, moving and profoundly spiritual throughout and is quite possibly Benny Chan’s most accomplished film to date.
Cory Yuen serves as the action choreographer. Yuen’s credits include Lethal Weapon 4 and X-Men.
Relax, take a back seat
and bask in the fiery glow of the Kung Fu wizardry against a backdrop blood, sweat, tears and redemption.
For sure, you will be enthralled.
This new SHAOLIN is making its mark as another befitting tribute to the KUNG FU CINEMA.