Shaolin Temple 3 (China 1985)

Rating: **
Review Date: 2/25/00
Alternate Title: Martial Arts Of Shaolin
Director: Lau Kar Leung (Liu Chia Liang)
Cast: Jet Li

Incredible! This film features some of Jet Li's best fighting ever and is sure to please even the most jaded kung fu movie viewer. Unfortunately, the lighthearted comedic tone makes much of the film nearly intolerable to watch, hence the lower rating. The story is also impossible to figure out, partly due to a poor script and partly due to the fact that the subtitles are completely off the screen. Basically what we've got is a feisty trouble making young monk in Shaolin Temple (Jet Li) who leaves the temple in order to kill an evil governor for some past crime. After the failed assassination attempt, he goes into hiding with two other rebels, including another Shaolin fighter and a totally awesome kung fu femme fighter. Of course, the same "girl dresses as boy" gag gets done AGAIN and Jet Li finally discovers her feminine side about an hour into the film. Groan. Why is this convention so popular? The audience never falls for this trick, and most of the time I don't even know I'm being set up for it. When the "big secret" is finally revealed, my reaction is always "How could you possibly think that was a man?!?" Unfortunately, with her secret out of the bag, she doesn't seem to fight nearly as well, which is a serious shame. Everything finally comes to a head and a huge battle ensues, with our cute little fighting femme delivering the delicious coup de grace. Liu Chia Liang's choreography and cinematography are astounding, and every fight scene is a feast for the senses. The gorgeous Chinese locations are also breath-taking to behold and add a richness that many other kung fu films seem to be lacking. The film is really for kung fu enthusiasts only, and it's definitely worth the ride if you can slog through the rest of the goofy narrative.