One of those films that impresses you, even though it fails to set itself apart from other films in the genre.
| Original Score: 7/10
Ambitiously staged set pieces fall victim to portentous technique, creating an ultimately irreconcilable chasm between how much one wants to like this movie and how much they actually do.
| Original Score: C
Jackie Chan brings some warm energy to his supporting role -- a rarity for this big star -- and turns in a delightfully self-effacing performance.
| Original Score: 3/5
Frequently gripping and featuring a surprisingly spry supporting turn by Jackie Chan, it's a sturdy if unremarkable effort.
Shaolin is simultaneously regal and stilted, stirring and sluggish.
Large-scale melodrama is short on action and long on histrionics.
An ambitious, almost epic drama that devotes as much time to introspection as it does to combat.
| Original Score: B
This rousing Shaolin is notable for the compassionate Buddhist philosophy that underpins what otherwise might have been just another Hong Kong period piece.
"Shaolin" fits in the more somber kung-fu tradition. But it also finds room for the genre's comic strain.
The epic feel to this Hong Kong action-drama helps balance a lack of hand-to-hand combat scenes.
More action, less talk should be the order of the day, but it isn't.
| Original Score: 2/4
Shaolin features a half-dozen impressive action set pieces, including an elaborate carriage chase and a battle inside the cages where Cao imprisons his workers.
The kung fu itself is great fun to watch, from the discipline of balancing on one foot on a wooden pillar, the other in the air, for hours at a time to the confrontations that send fist and feet flying.
This is not a subtle film, and certainly not a great one, but it's made with bubbling brio and it's spectacular to look at. It's action filmmaking of the highest order.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Fists fly furiously and much blood is spilled; there's a sacrifice via sword that's both cringe-inducing and cheerworthy.
This crude, overlong chunk of kung-fu kitsch lays its scene in a 1920s Republican China, torn by internecine fighting and weighed down by drably expensive production design.
Benny Chan's kung-fu film Shaolin both benefits from and is ultimately defeated by its own epic ambitions.
"Shaolin" compares favorably with the biggest blockbuster Hollywood has to offer.
| Original Score: B-
A well-mounted but soft-edged reinterpretation of a martial arts classic that gives precedence to drama over action.
With its mix of high octane martial arts and Eastern spirituality, Shaolin succeeds as a stirring anti-violence action epic.
| Original Score: 3.5/5