The Shaolin Rescuers (1979)

The Deadly Venoms return!

Bean curds; a dyeing mill; a fighting school. These are the common denominators when fighting off a horde of Ching soldiers in director Chang Cheh’s Shaolin Rescuers, a chopsocky flick from 1979 in which Jason Pai Piao and the one and only Venom Mob take on Wu-Tang leader Pai Mei (now played by Chow Kin-Ping) and his head disciple Gao Jinzhong (Lu Feng).

"Don’t let Shaolin Rescuers fool you. It might be lighthearted at the beginning, but its finale is all sorts of killer cool!"

Cheh opens the film with yet another bloodsoaked battle with stylistic touches of a murderous red as the disciples of Shaolin are attacked and killed in various manners. The blood here flows freely as Cheh and cinematographer Cho Wai-Kei make violence visual poetry thanks to the fluid camera, the use of slow motion, and freeze frame.

Shaolin Rescuers is a film which takes its time, developing its characters first. Outside of the brutal opening - an absolute artistic high for martial arts films - the rest of the action for about 30-minutes or so is fun and lighthearted. In fact, it’s more comedic than anything else as Chen Ah Jin (Lo Mang), Yang Dabao (Philip Kwok), and Zhu Cai (Sun Chien), do about their lives, bored with what they do.

The choreography here in these places of work is quite fun because Ah Jin and Dabao basically don’t want to do anything but become heroes. They hate their work and goof around with some pretty humorous kung fu hijinks, torturing their bosses and the patrons of where they work. It seems Cheh is taking a page from Lau kar-Leung’s book of comedy here, but it works thanks to the committed execution of the actors.The Shaolin Rescuers (1979)

But, when the team is assembled - which includes the leader of the Black Tiger Troupe (Chiang Sheng) - and all the playfulness is gone, the Venom Mob kicks all sorts of ass in a weapon-heavy finale which sees Lu Feng rain down all sorts of Hell upon these freedom fighters. In a word, it is glorious to watch as the team switches opponents and beats the hell out of them with style, grace, and a finishing brutality which more than makes up for some of the earlier attempts at comedy.

Shaolin Rescuers is now on blu-ray thanks to the efforts of Shout Factory, who include the film in their spectacular box set which comprises 11 classic martial arts films from the famous Shaw Brothers' library, featuring some of their greatest stars – Alexander Fu Sheng (The Brave Archer), Lo Lieh (King Boxer), Ti Lung (A Better Tomorrow), David Chiang (The Boxer Of Shantung) and the Deadly Venoms! Many of these films are debuting for the first time on Blu-ray.

Don’t let Shaolin Rescuers fool you. It might be lighthearted at the beginning, but its finale is all sorts of killer cool!

4/5 chops

 The Shaolin Rescuers (1979)

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- October 24, 2023
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English
Mandarin: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; 11-discset
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

It's Shaolin versus corrupt Ching soldiers — with the help of the Lama, Black Tiger, and Mantis clans — headquartered at a pugilism school, a dyeing mill, and a bean curd shop. Often under-used Korean master kicker Sun Chien is specially spotlighted in this production as he and his fellow Venoms — the stars of director Chang Cheh's many other high-flying, blood-splattered adventures (starting with The Five Venoms) — create another wonderfully fun kung fu showcase, filled with show-stopping sequences of martial arts expertise.


Presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Shaolin Rescuers is beautifully presented on 1080p from Shout Factory. 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 an uncompressed Mandarin Mono DTS-HD Master Audio With New Subtitle Translation and an English Dub Mono DTS-HD Master Audio track.


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


  • See Special Features for the breakdown.

Special Features:

  • NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian Brian Bankston (Cool Ass Cinema Blog)
  • NEW To The Rescue! – Shaw Brothers Actor Yang Hsiung Talks About His Career In Film
  • Celestial Trailer

Blu-ray Rating

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

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4/5 stars

 Film Details

Shaolin Rescuers (1979)

MPAA Rating: PG-13.
110 mins
: Cheh Chang
Cheh Chang; Kuang Ni; Nai-Pin Tsai
Jason Piao Pai; Feng Lu; Meng Lo
: Action | Drama

Memorable Movie Quote:
Shaw Brothers
Official Site:
Release Date:
March 24, 1979 (Hong Kong)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 24, 2023
Synopsis: Two friends who long to be heroes join the fight against a Ching warlord and his students. They get help from a Kung Fu student and a rebel. They also save Hung Si Quan's life.


Shaolin Rescuers (1979)