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DVD Review: Shaolin Against Wu Tang – The Battle Royale of the Martial Arts!

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Presented by VideoAsia and First Look Studios, the 10-film collection Shaolin Against Wu Tang's subtitle The Battle Royale of the Martial Arts! plays up the notion of the two disciplines pitted against each other throughout. This is completely misleading and really is just an excuse for the company to dump a bunch titles from the 1970s and ‘80s onto a set and sell them, but to get this many movies, and this many laughs, for $20 it’s silly to expect a whole lot or be disappointed with the results.

Shaolin Death Squad is mistitled. It’s about a conspiracy to kill the king and the battles to protect him. Wu Tang Magic Kick finds our hero, and his special kicking ability, captured and kept in a cage. He is driven mad with his imprisonment and is only released when his wife agrees to marry the villain, although there’s no surprise when he regains his wits. The soundtrack is better suited for a western.

In Duel of the Tough Shaolin monks have stolen a special scroll with Buddhist scriptures that Buddhism is the one true faith. A young man plans steal them back. The movie seems like it’s trying to be comedic, which it is in spite of itself. Shaolin Mystagogue stands out because one villain has weapon called the "bloody birds," an awesome, bladed boomerang that is so strong it can knock down trees. Carter Huang Chia-ta from Big Trouble in Little China is one of the leads

Shaolin vs. Wu Tang is where we finally see disciples of the disciplines compete against each other, and conflict arises because two friends follow different teachings. The viewer is forced to watch with both subtitles and dubbing. Shaolin vs. Lama is about Yu Ting, who is looking for a martial arts teacher, but he beats everyone he meets. When he finally finds a teacher, he gets in the middle of a feud between the teacher and a former student.

Fight For Survival begins with a group posing as masters and stealing books that contain fighting techniques from a Shaolin temple. A young woman wants to study at the temple and is trained by a hermit, who is a former master. Once schooled in some rather bizarre styles, the young woman takes on the thieves. In Unbeaten 28 an infant, who will be known as Tiger, is taken from his family and raised by Kung Fu instructor after a warlord kills his father. As if the revenge wasn’t already destined, the warlord kills the Kung Fu instructor’s family, and later the instructor. Tiger strives to learn as many disciplines as possible before taking on the warlord

Mislabeled on the packaging, Shaolin Temple Against Lama is how the title appears in movie, but I am not sure why this is the title because the Shaolin monks actually send a fighter to learn lama techniques to battle the evil prince and his minions. Undaunted Wu Tang has Chinese fighters battle against Japanese fighters at the end of the 19th Century, which is similar to Jet Li's Fearless.

Three DVDs, two double-sided, contain the 10 movies. The framing is slightly off in the movies that appear letterboxed, as people and items go out of frame that shouldn’t. I can’t tell if this occurred in the creation of these DVDs or when the movies were shot. The video quality of all the films is poor. The images look worn and faded with the night sequences being especially troublesome. Magic Kick is particularly bad with dirt and scratches, and the editing splices are frequently apparent. The audio isn’t much better

The movies in Shaolin Against Wu Tang are over-acted, poorly dubbed, and have ridiculous foley work, which means all the reasons they are bad are all the same reasons that make them fun to watch with a group of like-minded friends.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • http://insomniacentertainment.com Luigi Bastardo

    VideoAsia is one of the worst companies out there when it comes to piss-poor A/V quality. That said, these movies are always good for a laugh. I picked one up a couple years back with a shitload of Godfrey Ho films and we still get a giggle out of them. If you get a chance, check out The Thundering Ninja (or, “T: The Hundering Ninja” as the title card seems to read) and Warriors Of Fire. Very funny stuff.

  • http://insomniacentertainment.com Luigi Bastardo

    True. The first one of us with a million dollars to spare will have to do fix that.