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DVD review: Invincible Shaolin (Funimation)
DVD Review Page 1
Author(s) : Sylvia Rorem
Date : 27/6/2010
Type(s) : DVD Review
 Intext Links  
People :
Chan Shen
Chang Cheh
Cheng Miu
Chiang Sheng
Kara Hui Ying Hung
Philip Kwok Chung Fung
Lo Meng
Lu Feng
Suen Shu Pau
Sun Chien
Robert Tai Chi Hsien
Wai Pak
Johnny Wang Lung Wei
Wong Ching Ho
Movies :
Crippled Avengers
The Five Venoms
Invincible Shaolin
Companies :
Shaw Brothers
Lexic :
Wing Chun
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Invincible Shaolin, another Venoms offer from Chang Cheh, was re-released in the US by Funimation in June 2010. This showcase piece for kung fu superstars The Venoms is a more mellow, civilized, non-violent and funnier film than the nastier and more intense The Five Venoms or Crippled Avengers. That said, this 1978 Shaw Brothers kung fu pian features plenty of satisfactory kung fu action. It is chock full of impressive acrobatics, pole fighting, Wing Chun, Mantis kung fu and mighty muscles. Venom fans probably need to add this film to their collection and fans of Lo Meng should buy it immediately.

The Movie

Invincible Shaolin takes place during the Qing Dynasty’s historical oppression of the capable Shaolin kung fu practioners. Ubiquitous evil Manchu General Pu (Johnny Wang Lung Wei) schemes to eradicate the Shaolin tradition by somewhat cleverly pitting North and South Shaolin against each other. As evil as this plan is, it promises a real kung fu fest. And the Venoms, Chang Cheh and action choreographer Robert Tai deliver. When three highly capable and virtuous North Shaolin instructors (Sun Chien, Lu Feng, Chiang Sheng) arrive at the General’s court to share their skills, the General kills the resident South Shaolin kung fu instructors and lays blame on North Shaolin. The wise Northern instructors sense something is amiss but their attempts to make peace with the South Shaolin school are undermined by the General’s oily assistant (Suen Shu Pao). Southern school master Mai Qi (Chan Shen), determined to avenge the deaths of his students, trains Ho Ying Wu (Phillip Kwok Chung Fung) and sends his best pupils Chu (Lo Meng) and Mai Fong (Wai Pak) to receive special intensive training from distant elderly kung fu masters (Cheng Miu, Wong Ching Ho). After the Southern pupils have mastered techniques guaranteed to vanquish the personal styles of the Northern instructors, Mai Qi’s desire for revenge and the General’s evil web of deception threaten to destroy the six Shaolin masters’ chance to attain something more important than vindication or revenge – North and South Shaolin unity.

Invincible Shaolin is a minimally dramatic training story that strings together some good action. The story is a harmless excuse to watch the Venom boys display their remarkable physical talents (and Lo Meng’s remarkable physique). In the first half of the film, the Northern Venoms are given plenty of opportunity to show off their onscreen fighting skills. Spritely Yang Chung Fei (Chiang Sheng) excels in lightness/flying style and Two-Section Staff and brings impish mischief to everything he does. Serious Pao Sen Chao (Lu Feng) exudes manly confidence and deadly strength as an Iron Palm master, and patient leader Su Fong (Sun Chien)’s precision high kicks are controlled and powerful. They are then relegated to the sidelines and during the second half of the film, the Northern instructors pick up some girlfriends (including Kara Hui Ying Hung as a flower vase) and stand around trying to get to the bottom of the General’s nefarious scheme.



Much of the second half of the film is devoted to the Southern Shaolin students’ extended, light-humored training sequences. Although Chu’s fun powerhouse Mantis workouts are impressive and memorable, they are given too much screen time while gentle, frightened Mai Fong and the exuberant, devil-may-care Ho Ying Wu must divide the remaining time between their Wing Chun and Southern Shaolin Pole technique training sessions. Upon mastery of their new skills, the hard working Southern Shaolin fighters are ready to meet their Northern counterparts for a final deadly showdown.

Robert Tai’s choreography is very good. Sometimes dramatic and rarely violent, the action is carefully choreographed and edited for maximum visceral and emotional entertainment but the lengthy training sequences unfortunately break the tension that escalates nicely in the first half of the film. The climactic final battle between the six Shaolin masters is, however, violent and exciting. The physically gifted Venoms and Johnny Wang Lung Wei offer the usual less-than-stellar acting performances and during the final fight scene the girlfriends look about as distressed as if they just missed the annual shoe sale. But it is perennial bit-part baddie Chan Shen who comes out of left field to deliver a solid dramatic punch to Invincible Shaolin. Despite his shoddy makeup and cookie-cutter lines, Chan’s deeply emotional performance as the grieving master bolsters the otherwise tepid acting and keeps the whole showcase story afloat.

Invincible Shaolin is a fairly well-paced, action-packed, kung fu training pian with many fun fight scenes and a pretty rewarding climax. Although the film is essentially an innocuous showcase for the energetic and dexterous Venoms, the boys are, as always, audience pleasers and their extensive action in this film is a Venoms must-see. All around, Invincible Shaolin is memorable, light, fun kung fu entertainment.

dvd specifications

Distributor: Funimation.com/Hong Kong Connection
Region: 1
Languages: Mandarin Mono, English Dolby Digital Stereo
Subtitles: English
Format: 2:35.1
Run Time: 98 minutes

1 DVD with no bonus features other than a handful of mixed-bag trailers.

Release Date: June 2010
Price: $19.98

DVD Review

The Funimation DVD is the Celestial Pictures 2.35.1 widescreen transfer. The restoration ensures good picture quality and sharpness of color. The sound nicely balances music, dialogue and effects, and the English subtitles are readable and error-free. The English dubbing lack emotionality and the loose translation often loses the intent and meaning of the original Chinese dialogue. If you can read subtitles, watch this film in Mandarin. The ubiquitous preliminary Funimation promotional reel cannot be skipped but can be fast-forwarded on select players. The chapter selection pictures are numerous and small but the main menu is simple and easily navigable.


Although it lacks bonus material, this Funimation DVD offers a good quality film and is a decent buy for English speaking audiences in the United States.

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