Benny Chan's kung-fu film Shaolin both benefits from and is ultimately defeated by its own epic ambitions.
| Original Score: 2/4
Evil warlords and nifty monks battle it out physically and spiritually in this epic and histrionic tale of how the most nasty of men can find enlightenment.
| Original Score: 2.5/5
A well-mounted but soft-edged reinterpretation of a martial arts classic that gives precedence to drama over action.
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.
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
More action, less talk should be the order of the day, but it isn't.
Large-scale melodrama is short on action and long on histrionics.
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
| Original Score: B+
A bloody tale of redemption, with a credibility gap.
| Original Score: 3.5/5
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.
| Original Score: 3/5
With its mix of high octane martial arts and Eastern spirituality, Shaolin succeeds as a stirring anti-violence action epic.
A thoroughly satisfying period action flick with heart and soul; a wholesome step on the path to cinematic enlightenment.
| Original Score: 4/5
Frequently gripping and featuring a surprisingly spry supporting turn by Jackie Chan, it's a sturdy if unremarkable effort.
An expansive, energetic, big-budget martial arts action film that encompasses combat, explosions and moments of introspection.
The epic feel to this Hong Kong action-drama helps balance a lack of hand-to-hand combat scenes.
"Shaolin" compares favorably with the biggest blockbuster Hollywood has to offer.
| Original Score: B-
Jackie Chan brings some warm energy to his supporting role -- a rarity for this big star -- and turns in a delightfully self-effacing performance.
"Shaolin" fits in the more somber kung-fu tradition. But it also finds room for the genre's comic strain.
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