Disciples of Shaolin (1975)

In which Alexander Fu Sheng fights against the exploitation of textile workers!

Directed by the one and only Chang Cheh and featuring some stellar choreography from Lau Kar-leung, Disciples Of Shaolin is, ultimately, a very sad story.  Oh, it’s got some great scenes of ass-kicking audacity along the way to Fu’s sacrifice, but - as you may have already noted - there’s that self-sacrifice to contend with . . .

. . . poor Kuan Fung Yi (Fu Sheng).  He’s a skilled fighter and arrives from the country - barefoot and all - to visit his old friend, Wang Hon (Kuan-Chun Chi), who has put his skills as a fighter to the side in favor of a steady job as a textile worker in the city.  Their friendship is solid and the laughs they share are enjoyed by the audience, too.  In fact, much of Disciples of Shaolin is light-hearted and breezy yet there’s a threat which soon bubbles to the surface.

"a forgotten masterpiece from Shaw Brothers"

The workers are being exploited and threatened by another textile company who wants to create a monopoly, forcing Hon’s out of business.  Guan, who doesn’t really understand the politics of the situation, finds himself showboating his fighting skills and has to keep the peace . . . but he doesn’t understand the basics of the situation and soon finds himself in over his head, smothered by wealth and fame and new shoes.  How easy it is to manipulate him!

But a fall is bound to happen to Kuan, our hero, forcing Hon into a deadly confrontation.  With plenty of shocking moments and a consequential death, Disciples of Shaolin is a forgotten masterpiece from Shaw Brothers.Disciples of Shaolin (1975)

Opening with a very fine and artful scene which showcases Guan’s shaolin skills against a yellow backdrop, Disciples of Shaolin is more of a meditative martial arts flick.  There’s no rushing the action either, which begins around the 30-minute mark, as the focus seems to be more on substance and establishing the chemistry between the two friends who are only just reunited.

That’s not to say Disciples of Shaolin isn’t bloody.  It’s one of Cheh’s bloodiest, in fact.  So bloody that at one point in the finale - when Fu Sheng is battling while wounded - Cheh drains all the color out of the flick and presents viewers with a sepia-toned last stand.  It’s a moment Tarantino would pay homage to in Kill Bill, but here it works to calm the nerves of the censors while still remaining true to Cheh’s vision for the film.   

As well as delivering some impressive martial arts set pieces, Disciples of Shaolin also underlines the abuse of workers and the corruption of cruel bosses. Fast, fierce and thought provoking, this is a must for collectors of extreme Asian cinema.

5/5 Fists


Disciples of Shaolin (1975)

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: 88 Films
Available on Blu-ray
- December 14, 2021
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
: English
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; Mandarin: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Disciples of Shaolin delivers a typically power-packed Hong Kong tale of enemy gangs and super cool fight scenes. When Shaolin disciple Kuan Fung Yi (Sheng Fu) takes a job at a textile factory he soon becomes embroiled in a bitter and violent clash with the rival Manchu clan who run a neighboring mill.


Disciples of Shaolin arrives on Blu-ray from 88 Films sporting an HD remaster sourced from the original 35mm camera negatives and looks wonderful.  Interiors are strong.  Colors pop throughout, but it is the blood effects - burning bright in the transfer - which seal the deal on this one.  It’s full of great atmosphere thanks to the quick-footed script and looks visually eye-popping due to the 1080- upgrade.  Black levels are strong throughout, bringing out nice details in both the loud and quiet moments of this epic adventure.  The tracking shots are glorious to behold in 1080p. Blacks are solid and shadows maintain their lines.  Even the costumes are noted stitch by stitch.


Audio choices include the original Mandarin mono 2.0 with newly-translated English subtitles or an English mono 2.0 dub.


Get ready to rumble with these supplemental items!


  • See Special Features for the breakdown.

Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary with Film journalist and Author Samm Deighan
  • Audio Commentary with Asian cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema
  • Jamie Luk at Shaw Brothers - Interview with Actor / Director Jamie Luk by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Original Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve with brand-new artwork from R.P. “Kung Fu Bob” O’Brien & Original Hong Kong poster artwork

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 5/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

5/5 stars

 Film Details

Disciples of Shaolin (1975)

MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content throughout, graphic nudity, language and some drug use.
110 mins
: Che Chang
Che Chang; Kuang Ni
Sheng Fu; Kuan-Chun Chi; Ming Li Chen
: Action | Drama

Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:
Shaw Brothers
Official Site: https://88-films.myshopify.com/products/disciples-of-shaolin-88-asia-28
Release Date:
December 1982 (United States
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 28, 1975
Synopsis: Impetuous young martial arts master Kuan takes a job at a textile factory where another disciple of the revered Shaolin discipline warns him about the rival Manchu clan, who run another nearby mill.


Disciples of Shaolin (1975)