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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > Comedy > The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin + My Young Auntie – Special Collector’s Edition (1978/Genius/Weinstein)

The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin + My Young Auntie – Special Collector’s Edition (1978/Genius/Weinstein)


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Films: B-



The latest cycle of Martial Arts films Dragon Dynasty has issued of Shaw Brothers classics is some of the most key in their catalog and the genre.  They are also at the end of the 1970s cycle in the U.S., yet the building blocks of a new beginning for the genre.  Liu Chia-Luang directed both The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin and My Young Auntie, which arrived in 1978.


The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin is like watching the flashbacks of TV’s Kung-Fu in a severely elongated version of about two hours.  The politically incorrect aspect is that a Buddhist temple would not be teaching self-defense so explicitly and Kung-Fu was more realistic by limiting these moments and adding much more pensive philosophy.  This is a big film for genre fans and though many training films had been made before, this is one of the ones that have stuck, possibly because of its narrative flow using less documentary-style approach and because Gordon Liu was so effective as its star.


My Young Auntie is among the first to introduce e comedy into the genre, something hardcore action fans did not like and turned out many turkeys since then, but also undermined the cutting edge these films had out of the 1970s.  This is one of the better ones and I was reminded of the even better Kung-Fu Hustle (see my Blu-ray review elsewhere on this site) which goes beyond this comedy subgenre by going all out moment after moment.  Nevertheless, Kara Hui is appealing here and this is one of the originals, which means it is not as silly as most of its imitators.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on both have some soft points, but are impressive and come from newly restored ShawScope prints and HD transfers.  Color can be beautiful and with a fresh fidelity lacking in many films today and these are both from 1978!  Huang Yeh-tai and Arthur Wong lensed Chamber, while Ao Chin-Chun lensed Auntie.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 in all languages are dubbed, but all sound as good as they could for their age and you can bounce between them to hear what you think is best.  Extras on both includes stills, trailers, on-camera interviews with the leads and both on camera interviews and feature length audio commentary tracks co-hosted by critic Andy Klein.  Klein is joined on Chamber by The RZA of The Wu Tang Clan, then critic Elvis Mitchell on Auntie.  Chamber adds Shaolin: A Hero Birthplace and concert video for The Wu Tang Clan’s Gravel Pit.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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