Shaolin Temple (1976)

No, not the Jet Li film.  We aren’t quite there yet, Chop Socky Cretins.  This film, produced by Shaw Brothers, assembles a new wave of fighters to assist freedom fighters after the destruction of the Henan monastery.  Due to the changing times, we have fan favorites Ti Lung, Wang Chung, and David Chiang playing second fiddle to Alexander Fu Sheng and Chi Kuan Chun, who were Chang Cheh’s new favorites for his movies in the mid-1970s.

But the change works to create an unforgettable film, with the Alley of Death sequence and its “wooden men” being one Hell of a standout.

"a true classic from Chang Cheh"


Shaolin Temple, which features director Chang Cheh’s acclaimed venom mob, is yet another film about the destruction of the Shaolin Temple by the Qing Dynasty, except this one focuses on the days and weeks before the assault as the monks come to understand that time is not on their side and new recruits must be brought in. 

But the training is not for the weak.  Good thing Cheh slows the action down and works on character for this 112-minute tale of preserving the Shaolin way of martial arts in the face of the rising Manchu opposition.  Cheh has a lot of characters to juggle in this action flick and, while obviously favoring Fu Sheng as Fong Sai-Yuk (who would have been a huge star in the West had he lived longer) and Chi Kuan-Chun as Hung Sze-Kwan, manages to give the older guard of Lung and Chiang something to do when they arrive as former students of Shaolin, ready to defend it. 

While it’s largely a training movie as both Fu Sheng and Kuan-Chun, once admitted into the Temple to begin their training in wing chun, tiger, crane, and pole form styles of fighting, are put through the ringer, there is a passionate focus on characters which helps to bring a lot of humor and physicality to the story.  You do feel for these people and feel real resentment toward the It was later re-titled Death Chamber in the United States (for good reason) but, make no mistake, this is a solid attempt to bring out the brotherhood between these fighters . . . even if Cheh is focusing more on one particular character.Shaolin Temple (1976)

Shaolin Temple is also Cheh working without the choreography from Lau Kar-leung.  Instead we have a script which builds toward a mighty climax where a lot is going on as three unique acting eras of Shaw Brothers films: the past, present, and the future (with the inclusion of Kuo Choi, Chiang Sheng, and Lu Feng) are thrown together as a motestary burns.

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), Shaolin Temple 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 CHEHShaolin Temple, packaged alongside Five Shaolin Masters, 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.

Those Manchu bastards must be stopped!  Join the rebellion with Shaolin Temple, a true classic from Chang Cheh!

5/5 chops

 Shaolin Temple (1976)

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, Shaolin Temple 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

Shaolin Temple

MPAA Rating: Not Rated.
126 mins
: Cheh Chang; Wu Ma
Kuang Ni; Cheh Chang
Sheng Fu; Kuan-Chun Chi; Lung Ti
: Action | Drama

Memorable Movie Quote:
Shaw Brothers
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 22, 1976 (Hong Kong)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 24, 2023
Synopsis: The Shaolin Temple is the last place to resist defeat by the Manchu Dynasty, mostly because of their unique fighting style. Men from far and wide come to wait outside the temple, hoping that they will be admitted as pupils. As the Abbot becomes older, he realizes that the Manchus are determined to destroy the temple and eradicate the Shaolin fighting techniques. To this end, he decides that it is time at last to admit worthy men into the temple as students, to learn the way of Shaolin.


Shaolin Temple