Shaolin Vs. Lama (Taiwan 1983)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 6/3/18
Cast: Alexander Lo Rei

"I am the devil! I must die in order to prove that Buddha exists!"

Not to be confused with "Shaolin Against Lama" (1980), which often goes by the same title. Many claim that it's the best kung fu movie ever, but good luck finding a decent copy of it. The only ones I've seen are poor quality, English dubbed, pan-and-scan disasters. If there was ever a movie to follow through on its claims of "non-stop action," this would be it. Alexander Lo Rei plays Yu Ting, an ambitious young fighter who's looking for a kung fu teacher who is better than he is. He finally meets his match at Shaolin Temple, but they refuse to accept him as a student. However, the monks change their tune when a traitorous Tibetan Lama threatens to destroy Shaolin, and it's up to Yu Ting to save the day.

The fighting is effectively non-stop, with only a handful of goofy humor and back-story bits thrown in. The choreography and execution are superb, and all of the performers are excellent. Lo Rei is a fast, fierce, and intense fighter who's at the top of his game. The main villain is also a great fighter, although I didn't recognize his face. So, if classic kung fu is your thing, look no further. But if you care about story, dialog, acting, characters, drama, art direction, and quality filmmaking, there are better options available.