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DVD review: Shaolin Prince (Funimation)
DVD Review Page 1
Author(s) : Sylvia Rorem
Date : 17/9/2010
Type(s) : DVD Review
 Intext Links  
People :
Alan Chan Kwok Kuen
Kong Do
Lam Fai Wong
Lee Hoi San
Ma Chao
Jason Pai Piao
Ti Lung
Tong Gaai
Elvis Tsui Kam Kong
Wong Jing
Derek Yee Tung Sing
Yuen Bun
Yuen Wah
Movies :
Opium And The Kung Fu Master
Shaolin Intruders
Shaolin Prince
Companies :
Shaw Brothers
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Shaolin Prince is one of three highly energetic and enjoyable kung fu pian directed by master choreographer Tong Gaai (Tang Chia). A companion piece to Shaolin Intruders and also made in 1983, Shaolin Prince morphs Tong’s favored Shaw Brothers cast and intricate, elaborate fight scenes into a wacky, over-the-top kung fu comedy. Wong Jing’s screenplay adds huge doses of silliness to a typical story of usurpation and royal revenge; a mad double-take on a generally solemn genre. In short, Shaolin Prince is a super-charged blend of innocent fun, a quick paced story of good and evil, and mind-boggling action.

The Movie

Master Tong offers a full spectrum of well-made fight scenes. He and his team, including veteran players Lee Hoi San and Yuen Wah, utilize mostly excellent wire work, large groups of carefully arranged fighters and a good variety of weapons to go all out, all the time. Highlights include Tong’s own beautiful swordplay with star Derek Yee in the Shaolin Hall and the grandiose, mind-bending “18 Lohan Array”, a group of highly synchronized, gravity-defying monks who evoke all that is magical and mystical about the legendary Shaolin Temple. Despite his wild creativity, Tong’s fight scenes always adhere to internal rules of the story. They are not violent or painful and they triple somersault right up to, but never over, the limits of legendary Shaolin abilities. Most importantly, although Tong’s spectacular choreography is the real star of the film, he grounds the action firmly within the story.

The story is simple. Ti Lung and Derek Yee star as Dao Xing and Zi Tai, the surviving sons of an imperial family slain by the evil usurper Lord 9th (Jason Pai Piao) who is bent on exterminating the boys. Raised apart in greatly different circumstances, each prince is trained for kung fu mastery. As Lord 9th’s power and corrupt influence within the Shaolin monastery grows, he picks up their scent and begins to close in. Dao Xing and Zi Tai, thrown together by fate, must figure out how to battle invincible Shaolin kung fu masters, eliminate Lord 9th and his minions, and reclaim their imperial birthright.


The grim content is offset by happy humor and a cast that knows how to play it light. Shaw mega-star Ti Lung is too old for his role but his very solid martial acting skills more than compensate. And his friendly nature is a fine compliment to the darker, Spartan-like swordsman Derek Yee. Jason Pai Piao’s evil character is tempered by his dimples and obvious humor while his sidekicks Kong Do and Yuen Bun ham up their pseudo-god superskills. The terribly zany Three Holy Fools (Ma Chao, Alan Chan and Lam Fai Wong) not only balance the more intense Shaolin monks Lee Hoi San and Elvis Tsui but also bring a deeper dimension of humor to the film. Their irreverent “wise child” banter is inspired and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. Adding up all these elements, the film is exuberant beyond measure.

Tong Gaai unleashes all of his wonderful, bursting energy onto Shaolin Prince. Yet he has the sensitivity and experience to integrate the elements necessary for fluent cinema, and he is able to successfully balance humor with revenge – something very few directors can do well. Unlike his serious drama Opium and the Kung Fu Master, silly Shaolin Prince is a giant bucket of wholesome, madcap kung fu fun.


dvd specifications

Distributor: Funimation.com/Hong Kong Connection

Region: 1

Languages: Mandarin Mono, English Dolby Digital Stereo
Subtitles: English

Format: 1.85:1
Run Time: 89 minutes

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

Release Date: August 2010

Price: $19.98

The Funimation DVD is the Celestial Pictures 1.85.1 widescreen transfer. The restoration ensures a clean, lush picture quality. The enhanced Mandarin Mono version nicely balances music, dialogue and effects, and the English subtitles are easily readable and error-free. The English dubbed version features a slightly louder dialogue track that diminishes background sounds. The dub translation is not acceptable. All dialogue about Buddhist beliefs is replaced with non-threatening Western pablum, and the Mandarin charm of the Three Holy Fools voices is lost. Viewing in Mandarin Mono with subtitles is therefore highly recommended.

The preliminary Funimation promotional reel cannot be skipped but can be fast-forwarded. The chapter selection pictures are numerous and small, making selection somewhat difficult but the main menu is simple and easily navigable.




This DVD is worth a try for US residents looking for outstanding kung fu choreography. Please completely ignore the DVD cover’s film summary. This abominably misleading teaser misses the mark as widely as possible.


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