|Two Champions of Shaolin (1982)|
|Writers:||Ni Kuang (possibly?)|
|Starring:||Sun Chien, Lo Meng, Lu Feng and Chiang Sheng|
|The Plot: Lo Meng plays a strongman (of course!) known as The Shaolin Hercules, who despite being born in Manchu, hates the Ching government. You see, his father and mother were killed by the Manchu and was abandoned at Shaolin where he was raised. His hatred for the Manchu grew, along with his incredible strength and martial ability, until the day he finally reached the age of leaving the Shaolin temple. With Shaolin Hercules leaving the school, he sets out on a clear path of vengeance. Hu Wei Chen (Chiang Sheng) works for the Wu Tang, who are in cahoots with the Ching government, but he secretly resents the occupying force and spies for the rebels who look to overthrow this government. As Chiang Sheng’s character snoops around, we see how Shaolin Hercules gets into trouble by walking around with a chip on his shoulder picking fights with any Ching soldiers he can find. After being attacked by some Wu Tang men, Lo Meng is left with a flying dagger in his back and ends up on the doorstep of Chin Tai-lei (Sun Chien). Coincidentally, Chin Tai-lei has been taught to avoid all flying dagger attacks and his sister has been taught the offensive maneuvers of using flying daggers. With their help, Shaolin Hercules is able to learn the Wu Tang clan’s primary weapon style and is once again out for vengeance against the Wu Tang. He teams up with Hu Wei Chen and the two pull off a vast conspiratorial mission to rip the Wu Tang apart from the inside out.|
Lo Meng isn’t the only one who gets to show off, of course. Sun Chien shows up in the film as a martial artist who has been shown by his father all of the defensive maneuvers in order to protect himself from the flying dagger techniques employed by the Wu Tang clan. We get to once again see Sun Chien show off his magnificent kicking abilities as he jump kicks various objects out of the air. A Tae Kown Do expert, Sun Chien often called in this talent during many of his performances. Unfortunately Sun Chien doesn’t have a pivotal role in the movie, but he does manage to show off his plethora of skills in what little time he is granted on screen. The gimmickry, a trait that Chang Cheh was known for, doesn’t stop with just Lo Meng’s strength or Sun Chien’s kicking. Although it may have seemed as if Chang Cheh had expressed exery possible dagger-throwing idea imaginable with Life Gamble previous to this, he manages to take things into even more absurd territories as he gives his fighters the ability to defy gravity and throw knives at a pitch that makes them return in a circular fashion. These boomerang knives may not seem all that plausible, but they sure make for an entertaining spectacle! Then we have the characters known as the “Yuen brothers”, who dress up with monkey-masks. These fighters come out in the very final half of the movie and almost seem as if they were cast away ideas from another project. Their monkey style of Kung Fu is very entertaining however, as the three rely on one another in order to fight in any given situation. Expect a great deal of co-operative choreography when these three do battle!
Another part of what made Chang Cheh the director he is would be his use of violence. Never afraid to use the red stuff, Cheh splattered the screen with his paint-style blood in many motion pictures. Two Champions of Shaolin included. Although far from his most violent, there are several moments throughout the movie that Cheh takes things slightly over the edge. One such scene has Chiang Sheng literally ripping the testicles off of a fighter who delivers a jumping kick at precisely the WRONG moments. A bizarre sequence indeed, this is something I never expected to find in a Shaw production. The culminating fight at the end of the film isn’t without its own share of brutal moments, with the lead bad guy (no spoilers!) receiving a gory death that really BENDS the line of bad taste! Hah! An absolutely terrible pun, I know…