Described by both audio commentaries as - ‘the Kung-Fu classic you’ve never heard of’, The Shaolin Plot is an interesting film, but a classic it isn’t. It’s noteworthy for containing every Hong Kong actor you’ve ever heard of and featuring Sammo Hung as a larger than life villain. However, it drags, with extended scenes bloating the runtime, and suffers from the lack of a full released protagonist.
Prince Daglen (Chan Sing) is trying to obtain Kung-Fu manuals from the four main sects of the martial world. He manages to obtain the Wudang manual, with the help of a renegade monk (Sammo, sporting long sideburns and a shaved head, a great look) but kills the leader in the process, with his son (James Tien) swearing revenge. The Prince then sets his sights on the Shaolin temple, infiltrating them as a deaf and mute beggar, complete with ridiculous bulging eye makeup, determined to steal their manual. You assume James Tien is the main character but he is absent for much of the film and is subbed when it comes to the end fight. It’s clear his handling of the action was lacklustre, with Sammo (also the action director) using Casanova Wong for the closing battle. Fans of the genre will recognise him from Warrior’s Two (also available from Eureka) and the Korean taekwondo expert doesn’t disappoint, delivering a masterclass in kicking techniques to defeat the Prince. Why wasn’t he in the film earlier?
The disc features commentary by the usual teams of Frank Djeng/Michael Worth and Mike Leeder/Arne Venema. They both mention the sometimes beautiful but long-winded shots of director Huang Feng, and how the film suffers because of it. It's an interesting early insight into many actors' careers, but it’s clear why The Shaolin Plot hasn’t been available until now.The Shaolin Plot is available on Blu-ray from Eureka Entertainment on June 20th.