A review of the Shaolin-themed Kung Fu movies

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Can you imagine how many Shaolin-themed movies are there in China? I can't tell the exact number, but if you search "Shaolin" in the Internet Movie Database, there are nearly 300 movies with the word "Shaolin" in the title. Most of the movies are about kung fu. Maybe the next kung fu film festival should be held in Songshan Shaolin Temple. Of course it is impossible, but since the 1950s, the first Hong Kong Shaolin film – "How Shaolin Monastery Was Reduced to Ashes" was made, Shaolin has become a long-lasting theme of Chinese action movies.

In the 1970s, the enthusiasm for action movies made Shaolin-themed movies boom in Hong Kong and Taiwan. A lot of fine works were made including the Hong Kong director Cheh Chang's "Five Shaolin masters", "Men from the Monastery" and "Death Chamber". In 1982, Jet Li's debut movie "The Shaolin Temple" was released in the Chinese mainland. The movie was a great success, causing another kung fu fever. As it was the first action film released in the mainland, young guys imitated the monks in the film; some even went to the Songshan Shaolin Temple to learn kung fu.

When it comes to the 1990s, as the Shaolin action movies became less attractive, directors began to find new stunts. Taiwan director Yin-Ping Chu made the comedy "Shaolin Popey" and "Shaolin Popey 2- Messy Temple" featuring 2 child stars- Siu-Man Fok and Shi Xiaolong. In 2001, Stephen Chow directed and starred in the comedy film "Shaolin Soccer". He combines Shaolin Kung Fu and soccer, overturning the audiences' fixed idea of kung fu in an amusing way.

In most Chinese kung fu novels and movies, Shaolin represents justice. Shaolin Kung Fu is mighty and bold. A lot of people who like action movies also like Shaolin films. Shaolin became a label for Chinese movies. Regardless of the film's contents and genre, as long as there are monks and action, the film will be labeled as a Shaolin film.

Director Benny Chan's "Shaolin" opened this year. In the film, the Shaolin Temple was bombed into pieces. It is like a cycle, we go back to the first Shaolin film "How Shaolin Monastery Was Reduced to Ashes". The theme was adopted for nearly half a century by various filmmakers. Is there anything else that we can dig out from Shaolin? The audiences are expecting fresh and original films instead of repetition of the same theme.

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