Monday, January 31, 2011
Shaolin (2011) Movie Review
Directed by Benny Chan. Starring Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Bingbing Fan. China is plunged into strife as feuding warlords try to expand their power by warring over neighboring lands. Fuelled by his success on the battlefield, young and arrogant Hao Jie sneers at Shaolin's masters when he beats one of them in a duel. But the pride comes before a fall. When his own family is wiped out by a rival warlord, Hao is forced to take refuge with the monks. As the civil unrest spreads and the people suffer, Hao and the Shaolin masters are forced to take a fiery stand against the evil warlords. They launch a daring plan or rescue and escape.
This movie is grand martial arts spectacular, brimming with action, redemption and a generous helping of Zen Buddhism.
The beginning of the movie is a little slow, it does an okay job to bring out the important characters of the movie, before jumping into the plot. This new Shaolin is indeed much more epic than the previous one, and it can be seen as the production value is much higher.
Set during the tumultuous Warlord era of the early 20th Century, Andy Lau plays Hao Jie, a ruthless warlord, whose overwhelming victories and amassed personal wealth and success have come at the expense of the country's vast, struggling population.
Hao is betrayed by his own ambitious apprentice Cao Man (Nicolas Tse), sees his young daughter killed, he is forced to flee for his life. Ultimately Hao seeks refuge at a Shaolin temple and though reluctant at first to help a warlord, but later the monks welcome him in.
The story is very straightforward, without much plot twists, but the fights are well choreographed and the editing is pretty tight, compacting the whole story of Hao Jie's redemption in about 2 hours.
Coupled with a great score and beautiful scenery, this tale of epic redemption is well paced, and it attempts to make you feel for the characters in the movie which it had delivered pretty well.
Andy Lau's performance is exceptional in the movie both portraying the ruthless warlord and an enlightened monk. The final scene with lots of action, fights and explosions also tries to make the redemption even more emotional, and it does gets some fans wet around the eyes.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie, and this is one that you should check out on the big screen.
-- Robin Low