Arhats In Fury (1985)
A young monk and his sifu are on an ascetic mission to help break the youngster's earthly ties when they come across a village being raped and pillaged by the invading Jins. The monk can't stand by and watch so he leaps in and fights off the soldiers with his impressive wushu skills. Back at the monastery his good deed is not appreciated, and the elder monks sentence him to their typically harsh punishment. The film explores the contradiction between the ideals of pacificism, detaching oneself from worldy concerns, mercy and protecting the weak. How they can be reconciled? With a big fight at the end, it turns out :p
The film must necessarily be compared to Shaolin Temple (the Jet Li one), and unfortunately it comes up as a weaker film in pretty much every respect. The story is OK, the visuals gorgeous (mainland films have much more to work with for outside scenes than HK productions), the acting passable and the fight scenes pretty good. It's just that the 3 Jet Li Shaolin films did all these things better - as did many Shaw Brothers films, for that matter. Still, it is nice to see a martial arts film from the mainland once in a while as there is definitely a different "vibe" from the Hong Kong products, and the wushu fighters do put on a good display. The fights are quite fast and rough, but there's plenty of acrobatics and 'forms'. The lead actor seems to have good skills, if not quite at the level of young Jet Li. I wonder if he made any more films?
Summary: worth a watch.