Five Shaolin Masters

In which Bryan Leung’s ponytail ruthlessly kills!

It’s no secret that director Chang Cheh and wuxia screenwriter I Kuang, who wrote over 300 screenplays for the Shaw Brothers, revolutionized the action films coming out of Hong Kong.  Especially for Shaw Brothers, Cheh especially was changing the face of their heroes, adding more masculinity into the mix and fresh faces with which to carry the Shawscope banner as it eventually marched from the East to the West. 

Sure, this change meant way more machismo (and a backseat for the lady warriors) but these changes brought a lot more interest into the genre . . . and more money as it made it’s way toward the United States.

"an easy chop socky flick to appreciate"

And Run Run Shaw was in the movie business to make as much money as he possibly could . . . with as little change as possible.  As a former cinematographer himself, he certainly encouraged his filmmakers to utilize cool camera techniques, but everything else - production wise - needed to stay static. 

Which is why so many of the Shaw Brothers films cover familiar storylines, especially ones involving the destruction of a Shaolin Temple by the Qing Dynasty.  But, with Cheh’s classic offering of Five Shaolin Masters, we have a new guard appearing from the smoke and ash of the burning temple and these heroes are led by Ti Lung and Alexander Fu Sheng, who would remain staples for the Shaw Brothers due to their appeal.

With fight choreography by the unstoppable team of Lau Kar Leung and Lau Kar Wing and a secret hand sign to identify like minded patriots of the Shaolin way, Tsai Te-Chung (Ti Lung), Ma Chao-Hsing (Fu Sheng), Fang Ta-Hung (Meng Fei), Li Shih-Kai (Chi Kuan-Chun) and Hu Te-Ti (David Chiang) find themselves the only survivors of an unexpected assault by the Qing Dynasty.  It is up to this group to recruit others for the much-needed revenge against the rising oppositional forces which hound Shaolin. Five Shaolin Masters

But with attacks springing up unexpectedly along the winding road to recovery and reformation, these head-strong warriors are going to find their revenge is going to be a difficult one to manage.  They need to rethink their strategy and improve their fighting techniques before they can confront their enemies, which includes a  Shaolin traitor (Wang Lung Wei)

Full of some vicious on-screen violence and a cool break from the typical Shaw Brothers’ locations (favoring the outside environments over the studio one), Five Shaolin Masters is an easy chop socky flick to appreciate but, thanks to the efforts of Arrow Video, the movie can be appreciated visually as it is included in the release of SHAW BROTHERS PRESENTS | FOUR FILMS BY CHANG CHEHFive Shaolin Masters, packaged alongside Shaolin Temple, Crippled Avengers, and The Five Venoms, is now on blu-ray.  All the films feature 2K scans from 4K transfers, new sub-titles for better accuracy, and are filled with hours of special features.

Blood-soaked, brutal, and a marked influence on the 'heroic bloodshed' films by Chang's sometime assistant director John Woo, Five Shaolin Masters show one of Shaw's greatest directors working at the height of his talents.  Here, he doesn’t mess around with anything but action and revenge, showcasing these actors’ talents for action.

The Manchus must be stopped!  Join the rebellion with Five Shaolin Masters, a true classic from Shaw Brothers!

5/5 chops

 Five Shaolin Masters

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; English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; 2-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

By the early-1970s, Chang Cheh was already Shaw Brothers' most prolific and well-known director with a plethora of box office hits (including the One-Armed Swordsman franchise) to his name and renowned for discovering the hottest young talents to star in his films.  Three of those stars - David Chiang, Ti Lung and Alexander Fu Sheng - all feature in Five Shaolin Masters and Shaolin Temple, two selections from his instant-classic 'Shaolin Temple Cycle', based on the real-life tales of fighters training to face off against the ruthless Qing armies taking over China. A few years later, Chang outdid himself with the formation of the all-powerful posse of kung fu experts known to fans as the Venom Mob, whose talents would be showcased most famously in The Five Venoms and Crippled Avengers.


Presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Five Shaolin Masters 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 - Five Shaolin Masters / Shaolin Temple

  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
  • Uncompressed Mandarin and English original mono audio for both films
  • English subtitles for both films, plus English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dub
  • Appreciation of Chang Cheh by film critic and historian Tony Rayns
  • Interview with star Kong Do, filmed in 2003
  • Elegant Trails: David Chiang and Elegant Trails: Ti Lung, two featurettes on the actors produced by Celestial Pictures in 2003
  • Alternate standard-definition version of Shaolin Temple
  • Alternate opening credits from Five Masters of Death, the US version of Five Shaolin Masters
  • Alternate opening credits sequences for Shaolin Temple
  • Trailers
  • Image galleries for both films

Disc Two - The Five Venoms / Crippled Avengers

  • 2K restorations of both films from the original negatives by Arrow Films
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
  • Uncompressed Mandarin and English original mono audio for both films plus Cantonese mono for The Five Venoms
  • English subtitles for both films, plus English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dubs
  • Commentary on The Five Venoms by critic Simon Abrams
  • Interview with star Lo Meng, filmed in 2003
  • Chang Cheh: The Master, a featurette about the director produced by Celestial Pictures in 2003
  • Trailers for The Five Venoms
  • Hong Kong theatrical trailer for Crippled Avengers
  • Image galleries for both films

Blu-ray Rating

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

Composite Blu-ray Grade

5/5 stars

 Film Details

Five Shaolin Masters

MPAA Rating: R.
109 mins
: Chang Cheh
Kuang Ni
David Chiang; Lung Ti; Sheng Fu
: Action | Drama

Memorable Movie Quote:
Shaw Brothers
Official Site:
Release Date:
1979 (United States)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 24, 2023
Synopsis: Five students escape from the destruction of their beloved Shaolin each must take revenge and train in their own seperate fighting styles...they will become The Five Shaolin Masters!


Five Shaolin Masters