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DVD review: Shaolin Rescuers (Funimation)
DVD Review Page 1
Author(s) : Sylvia Rorem
Date : 3/11/2010
Type(s) : DVD Review
 Intext Links  
People :
Chan Shen
Chang Cheh
Chiang Sheng
Goo Goon Chung
Philip Kwok Chung Fung
Lo Meng
Lu Feng
Jason Pai Piao
Sun Chien
Robert Tai Chi Hsien
Movies :
Invincible Shaolin
Shaolin Rescuers
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Very loosely based on the legendary aftermath of the burning of the Shaolin Temple, the real raison d’etre of Shaolin Rescuers is the playful antics of the youthful Venom Mob. Fans of the Shaolin legends may be interested in this version of Hung Xiguan’s escape and diehard Venom fans will certainly enjoy their energetic mischief and outstanding athleticism. Otherwise this 1979 kung fu pian directed by Chang Cheh is a fairly un-engaging entry in the Venoms filmography.

The Movie

Chang Cheh admittedly did not pour his heart into all of his many Venom films. It is not impossible that Robert Tai not only choreographed the action (with Venoms Lu Feng and Chiang Sheng) but was also the de facto director. If so, this might explain why drama takes a backseat to the real star of the show: athletic prowess. The story focuses on three talented but poor young men: Da Bao (Kuo Chue), Jin (Lo Meng) and Zhu Cai (Sun Chien). Unhappy with their menial jobs, they thumb their noses at establishment and practice kung fu with dreams of becoming heroes. When a wounded Hung Xiguan (Jason Pai Piao) arrives in town, the boys are happy to risk their lives to help him recover and flee to safety. Before Hung can escape with opera leader Han Qi (Chiang Sheng), the Shaolin Rescuers must face a troop of lethal Wu Dang fighters led by White Eyebrow Priest’s deadliest student, Gao Jin Zhong (Lu Feng).

The plot sounds more exciting than it is. Character is defined by costumes and the action is flatly unemotional. Especially disappointing is Jason Pai Piao’s role as Hung; this intense actor is basically sidelined to make room for extended scenes of Venom acrobatic hijinks ‘n’ humor. Philip Kwok stated that Shaolin Rescuers is his favorite Venoms film, and he certainly provides endless amounts of truly excellent athletic work. The action is often gratuitous and comedic, thereby rendering it non-violent and fairly painless. While entertaining, it lacks emotional engagement. The film’s relentlessly comic mood also deflates the tension of an already formulaic and predictable fight climax.


On a more positive note, Chan Shen and Goo Goon Chung deliver excellent dramatic performances as the Lama School master and his oily student. The versatile Goo’s understated comedy and sliminess is impressive and memorable. Venoms Phillip Kwok and Lo Meng seem to have a great deal of genuine fun in Shaolin Rescuers and Chang Cheh’s fascination with dead-end youth allows entry into the daily life of the bored, frustrated young men.

Ultimately, Shaolin Rescuers is an acrobat’s fantasy that meanders playfully through a minimal alternative version of the Hong Xiguan legend. It is extremely popular with Venom fans precisely because it focuses almost exclusively on the boys’ athletic prowess. There are a lot of muscles and high-spirited hijinks but very little character or plot to maintain dramatic momentum. Shaolin Rescuers is therefore highly recommended for fans of the Venom Mob but may disappoint less specialized, drama oriented kung fu cinema fans.


dvd specifications

Distributor: Funimation.com/Hong Kong Connection

Region: 1

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

Format: 1.78:1
Run Time: 106 minutes

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

Release Date: November 2010

Price: $19.98

The Funimation DVD is the Celestial Pictures 1.78.1 widescreen transfer. The restoration ensures a clean, clear picture quality. The enhanced Mandarin Mono version nicely balances music, dialogue and effects, and the English subtitles are easily readable and 99.99% error-free. The English dubbed version features a slightly louder dialogue track that diminishes background sounds. The English translation is bare-bones but gets the point across. Subtitles flesh out information missing from the dubbed dialogue.

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.




Of the available Funimation titles featuring the Venoms, Invincible Shaolin is certainly the more solid and entertaining film and is a much safer bet.


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