The Warrior From Shaolin (HK 1981)

Rating: **
Review Date: 6/3/06
Alternate Titles: Shaolin Warriors, Carry On Wiseguy
Director: Lau Kar Wing
Cast: Gordon Liu (Liu Chia Hui), Lau Kar Wing, Lily Li, Eric Tsang, Leung Ka-Yan

A dying Chinese patriot gives a secret Japanese map to Buddhist monk Gordon Liu and begs him to take it to Dragon Town. Along the way he befriends two con-men who spend all of their time and energy trying to steal the box that he keeps the map in. When the con-men finally discover what's at stake, they join forces with the monk to ensure that the map gets to the right people, and much kung fu goodness goes down.

The early 80's were a dark time for kung fu movies, as studios insisted on making them comedies. In most cases, the results of such an unholy matrimony were dire. "Warrior From Shaolin" is no exception, and its attempts at humor are painfully unfunny. At one point our antagonists decide to scare the monk by pretending to be ghosts, only to get mixed up with a real corpse herder. In an attempt to make this lame brained sit-com moment even funnier, they play "A Fifth Of Beethoven" as the background music. Huh? Bewildering silliness like this abounds. Eric Tsang also gets to show off his Bruce Lee impersonation, which is actually pretty good. Thankfully, for all of its stupid moments, the kung fu really pays off (even in its butchered pan-and-scan state). The intricate choreography is superb, and the performances of Gordon Liu, Lau Kar Wing, and a surprisingly sexy Lily Li are top notch. When the three of them are fighting together, the results are stunning and exhausting.