Friday, 18 November 2011

Xin Shao lin Si - Shaolin

2011 by Benny Chan

I am becoming more and more like a fan of East Asian movies. Some of the Chinese, Korean and Japanese movies I saw in the recent past were more than a revelation. They can match and compete with the best from around the world. Watching Shaolin, I desperately wished for an Indian release for movies from China, Korea and Japan.

There are many feuding war lords in China. One such war lord faces a surprise defeat, he takes refuge in Budhism and its non violence. 

In many ways, this block buster from China is preaching non violence through violence.

It is an excellent action film actually and many of the action sequences can match or beat many Hollywood flicks. But why this movie is special is due to the underlying message, which is propagated through its main character. General Hou turns a monk at Shaolin and he still has to face some duels and hence there is lots of action even after the major character turns Budhist. But it is still compelling as a movie on non violence. The movie is an epic drama with brilliant action sequences. But couple of the scenes were stunning and stood out really. I am not saying these were the only brilliant scenes. But they were special.

- there is a shot which looked like many wooden statues of men practising kungfu - standing/balancing on one leg, with the other raised towards the shoulders, on wooden poles. I thought oh thats an amazing peice of art. And then the camera goes into details and I was shocked. That isnt any statue, but real men, the characters we know as Kungu practising monks from Shaolin, who are balancing themselves on the wooden poles. I will give a 10/10 for that single initial shot. Moments when you really feel like falling at the legs of a Photographer, to make such sur-realistic imagery in this modern day of digital photography, when photography is no more an art, is truly brilliant.

- The villain has a body guard who is like an absolute warrior. Nobody seem to match him in any duel. In a final fight with a Shaolin monk, monk goes in for a very special sacrifice (he is already fatally injured) in a momentary brilliant action, which was truly brilliant.

A very important point in this action drama is that the villain lives, not even hurt actually. But his defeat is ensured by his understanding of the devastating results of his decision making. That final scene was really excellent.

And finally I saw Jackie Chan once again in a completely different role from what we expect of him. He is a cook who does not know any Kung fu and I must say, Jackie Chan is a real good actor.

This is a really good action drama, with an excellent message. It does have some faults here and there, but I wont mind ignoring them at all.