Shaolin Intruders (1983)

Directed by
Tang Chia exceeds expectations
Reviewed by Simon on 2005-12-29

Tang Chia's second film as director is a wonderful fusion of Gu Long-style wu xia detective fiction and kung-fu comedy, with about 50% action content featuring some of the most fantastic choreography I've ever witnessed (including some very progressive elements that recall some 90's Wo Ping work, along with a lot of more "old-school" kung fu action). It ranks right up there with Eight Diagram Pole Fighter as a swan song for the Shaw Brothers martial arts film.

The film features a solid script, with some well-developed characters, though it can't be said to have great depth or complexity (of the emotional sort). It's definitely a genre film, but an exceptionally good representation of the genre. Tang Chia assembled a crack team of action directors with different specialities to choreograph the many fight scenes, meaning that you get a sprinkling of everything that martial arts choreography has to offer. There's some fantastical elements with wires and intriguing weaponry, and other scenes of pure kung fu choreographed with the intricacy, speed and imagination that you'd normally only expect from a Lau Kar-Leung or Sammo Hung film of the era. I don't recall Derek Yee or Jason Pai Piao ever looking as good as they do here, and lead actress Liu Yu-Po makes a strong impression as well. It's really a film that makes everybody look good though, with Phillip Ko Fei perhaps taking the absolute top honour for performance in a fight scene.

SHAOLIN INTRUDERS doesn't seem to be a well known film, so I can only assume it's been hard to come by until Celestial's recent release (a decent remaster let down by PAL->NTSC conversion and tinkering with the soundtrack on the DVD). Coming so late in the Shaws releases it'll probably still not capture the attention of the general public, but it's sure to make many kung fu fans happy :)