Movie Review: Shaolin

‘Shaolin’ is a 2011 Chinese martial arts film built on the simple story of a violent man who finds redemption at the Shaolin temple.

Quite a change from your typical kung fu movie, ‘Shaolin’ only has a few (but beautifully choreographed) action scenes, and is more of a story about a man finding peace than it is about fighting.


Set around the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, the ‘movie temple’ was actually built in Zhejiang and cost 10 million yuan (US$1.47 million) to avoid damaging the actual temple.


Featuring Andy Lau in a focused and energetic performance as warlord Hou Jie, his character development arc is the true focus of the film, and adds depth to a somewhat predictable storyline.



One of Hong Kong’s most commercially successful actors, Andy Lau has been able to maintain a highly successful singing career at the same time.


There are also a number of notable performances from Nicholas Tse (Cao Man), Fan Bingbing (Yan Xi) – as well as a small role for Jackie Chan who lights up the screen as a wonderfully warm ‘cook’.



It’s great to see Jackie Chan playing a lighter character, and you can tell he had a lot of fun doing it.


Although this is by no means a remarkable film in the kung fu genre, I recommend ‘Shaolin’ simply on the basis of it’s conviction, thoughtfulness and skill.


There is a well-rounded sense of Shaolin life in the film; from buddhist philosophy to kung fu to meditation and the pursuit of enlightenment.


Kids warning: There is not a lot of violence in the film, but I will give it a violence warning for it’s level of ‘graphicness’.

Subtitled in English and available on Netflix, here’s the official trailer for you to check out:


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