Jackie Chan Marathon IV: Shaolin Wooden Men (1976)

 ShaolinWoodenMen_DVDcoverMovie Overview:

Another one of Jackie movie that faded into obscurity. To be honest the movie do not have much attraction point other than Jackie himself. this is one old movie, and this was way before the Jackie Chan era. Bruce Lee is still alive and weel, and his movie got all of the production value and most of audience attention. poor Jackie do not have much popularity other than a proficient stuntman and a typical actor. This movie also feature Yuen-Biao one of Jackie Chan “sworn” brother, One thing to be intrigue about is the movie title said: Shaolin Wooden Men. Hopefully this movie will feature some “wood” action. Don’t think too much about it!

Plot Overview:

Jackie witnesses his father’s death by the skilled hands of a martial arts master with an unknown killing technique. Jackie vows to become a Shaolin monk and avenge his death (not very Buddhist of him…), but soon finds that he’s the chump of the class. After befriending a variety of shaolin masters, each of whom teach Jackie a particular style of kung fu (drunken, killing, slippery snake, etc.), Jackie suddenly finds himself good enough to go give the beats to the 100 “wooden men” whom all shaolin (in this flick anyways) have to beat to get the funky haircut. Jackie then proceeds to go around laying the beats on everyone, but shows his humility and compassion at the end.


Movie Review:

To begin with, this movie is a typical Chinese kung-fu movie, all of the cheesiness and the typical plot line is there.  Despite that, the movie did not sell it self short. The movie is relatively short but the story is good enough to retain an interest in. No to a point where it is debatable and pop up in normal conversation, but for Jackie’s fan, it is a great thing to see him in his early days. The atmosphere that the movie create is generally well-done. Unlike some old Chinese movies, this one may use a higher budget to make the film. That can be seen through many segments of the film, where they shoot the movie outdoor and there were a lot of fighters using pole and stick to perform martial art. However, the style does not resembled Wushu, so I assumed it is just basic kung-fu. The sound is stocked so there are no points discussing it. The choreography was mediocre in my opinion, there are not much acrobatic sequences that could show some of the actors athleticism other than that wood scene with Jackie an one other weird looking guy. The training montage of Jackie is presented in this movie, much like many of his movies in the future. It is somewhat impressive, but I can point out many better feat of strength shown though a training montage in many other of Jackie’s movies. One unique thing about this movie is their use of wooden dummy and wood-related training, this is one of the first Chinese martial art movie center around the kung-fu traditional practicing tools (wood). The movie may have exaggerate some scenes but it was a nice and refresing to see some thing out of the kung-fu norm.

Overall, I do not really have a favourite scene, the quick answer is the fight scene between Jackie and Yuen Biao, it was fun to see them go fist to fist together early in their career. I cannot really say this is a great movie, it just fell short somehow, and the only thing I really latch on to watch the movie was Jackie’s present in the movie.



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