An ambitious, almost epic drama that devotes as much time to introspection as it does to combat.
| Original Score: B
"Shaolin" fits in the more somber kung-fu tradition. But it also finds room for the genre's comic strain.
| Original Score: 3/5
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.
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.
A well-mounted but soft-edged reinterpretation of a martial arts classic that gives precedence to drama over action.
Well-mounted Chinese-Hong Kong martial-arts co-production Shaolin elevates enlightenment above brute strength, but weak helming undercuts the pic's punch.