Executioners From Shaolin

Not the eyes! Not the eyes! Oh, yes, it’s a brutal jab to the eyes which does the trick in Executioners From Shaolin, a multi-generational chop socky revenge tale which is absolutely unforgettable for a number of dynamic filmmaking reasons.

From the use of the zoom to the abrupt ending, there’s much about 1977’s Executioners From Shaolin that feels like staple Shaw Brothers, but its director, Lau Kar-leung, was not content to just hammer out another copycat film for the studio. Complete with Red Boat Opera Troupes and a new strength and quickness to much of the fight choreography, Executioners From Shaolin blows the doors off what came before for the studio.

With strong characterization and several wonderful moments of bride and groom humor in the bedchamber, this tale of multi-generational revenge comes alive with plenty of pathos and passion. The punches are powerful and, thanks to Kar-leung’s creative choreography, fierce and memorable.

"is the go-to film when trying to indoctrinate new disciples of Shaw Brothers Shaolin"

Executioners From Shaolin also shakes up the established environments of your typical Shaw Brothers production and puts a lot of its action on a boat. It is, at once, the go-to film when trying to indoctrinate new disciples of Shaw Brothers Shaolin.

Opening with a stark studio showdown between Pai Mei (Lo Lieh) and Shaolin Master Zhi Shan (Lee Hoi-Sang), Executioners From Shaolin begins on an artistic high. The room is lit only in the darkest of reds and is a hint toward the violence to come as these two masters go at it against each other with their own styles of kung-fu fighting. The sequence is tight, well-edited, and the punches are full of fury. Thing is, Pai Mei has an edge as he can retract his dangly bits up and into his groin area, making him impervious to one o’clock shots to the balls. It’s called internal kung-fu techniques and he uses it to defeat the Shaolin Master.

Outside of where this fight is taking place, Pai Mei’s troops are having one hell of a rampage through everything Shaolin, laying waste to monks, students, and temples alike. On a hill, the students - led by Tung Chin-chin (Gordon Liu) and Hung Hsi-Kuan (Chen Kuan-tai, who is absolutely EPIC in this role) - realize they are defeated and must regroup somewhere safe. Their numbers are few and dwindling with each fresh attack. Unfortunately, before they can get to the boats, Tung is taken down by a bunch of arrows and Hung is left alone to regroup with the other students.Executioners From Shaolin

One on board with the theater group, Hung and Fang Yung Chun (Lily Li) quickly find themselves in love, married (in a bedroom scene which is not soon forgotten as Hung must learn how to spread his wife’s legs open with his kung-fu skills and she’s a pretty tough opponent!!), and soon with child. This is where the core of Executioners from Shaolin hits the hardest. Their chemistry together - as both are strong in martial arts, with Li perfecting crane style - is absolutely dynamic. Together, they must find a safe place to raise their son, Hung Wei-Ting (played first by Dave Wong and later by Wong Yu), and eventually take their revenge against

There are four awesome attacks against Pai Mei as Hung attempts twice to take him down, but the white-haired priest is full of surprises! This is where the youngest Hung comes into play, learning that of which his father could not. The final showdown is violent, full of some unexpected gore, and features yet another toss and roll down an impressive set of concrete steps up to the temple.

Thanks to Arrow Video, Chia-Ling’s third film can be wholly appreciated with a 2K upgrade as it is now included with their release of SHAW BROTHERS PRESENTS: FOUR FILMS BY LAU KAR-LEUNG, a 2-disc set which includes Challenge of the Masters, Heroes Of The East, and Dirty Ho.

Watch the combination of tiger and crane style fighting which will take down the mad white-bearded priest once and for all!

5/5 chops

 Executioners From Shaolin

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Arrow Films
Available on Blu-ray
- October 24, 2023
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English; English SDH
Mandarin: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono; Cantonese: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono; English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; 2-discset
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Lau's third film is a classic from the vast Shaw Brothers catalog. Having choreographed the action for many of Chang Cheh's 'Shaolin Temple' films, Lau took on the same historical legends in Executioners from Shaolin, jam-packed with extraordinary fight scenes and unforgettable characters, not least the evil Bai Mei, the White-Browed Hermit!


Presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Executioners From Shaolin is beautifully presented on 1080p from Arrow Video. 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.


Fans of the genre get uncompressed Mandarin and English original mono tracks, plus Cantonese mono for the film.


Get ready to duel to the death with these supplemental items!


  • See Special Features for the breakdown.

Special Features:

Disc One - Challenge Of The Masters / Executioners Of Shaolin

  • 2K restoration of Challenge of the Masters from the original negative by Arrow Films
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
  • Uncompressed Mandarin and English original mono audio for both films, plus Cantonese mono for Challenge of the Masters
  • English subtitles for both films, plus English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dubs
  • Appreciation of Lau Kar-Leung by film critic and historian Tony Rayns
  • Interview with star Gordon Liu, filmed in 2002 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Interview with star Chen Kuan-Tai, filmed in 2007 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Textless opening credits for Challenge of the Masters
  • Alternate English credits for Executioners from Shaolin
  • Trailers
  • Image galleries for both films

Disc Two - Heroes Of The East / Dirty Ho

  • 2K restoration of Dirty Ho from the original negative by Arrow Films
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
  • Uncompressed Cantonese, Mandarin and English original mono audio for both films
  • English subtitles for both films, plus English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dubs
  • Commentary on Heroes of the East by Jonathan Clements, author of A Brief History of the Martial Arts
  • Appreciation of both films by film critic and historian Tony Rayns
  • Interview with Heroes of the East star Yasuaki Kurata, filmed in 2003 by Frédéric Ambroisine
  • Alternate opening credits for Shaolin Challenges Ninja, the international version of Heroes of the East
  • Alternate English credits for Dirty Ho
  • Trailers
  • Image galleries for both films

Blu-ray Rating

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

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4/5 stars

 Film Details

Executioners From Shaolin

MPAA Rating: R.
100 mins
: Chia-Liang Liu
Kuang Ni
Chia-Hui Liu; Kuan Tai Chen; Yue Wong
: Action | Drama

Memorable Movie Quote:
Shaw Brothers
Official Site:
Release Date:
February 16, 1977
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 24, 2023
Synopsis: Hong Hsi-Kuan devotes years to mastering Tiger style Kung Fu in order to defeat the evil priest Pai Mei. His wife, who is an expert in Crane style Kung Fu, has a feeling training in only one style won't be enough.


Executioners From Shaolin