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Andy Lau stars in Shaolin, a star-studded tale of how an arrogant warlord Hou Jie turned his life around because of the teachings of Shaolin. It also features Nicolas Tse as Cao Man, Fan Bingbing as Hou Jie’s wife and Jackie Chan as the fabulous cook Wu Dao.

Shaolin is a gripping kung-fu movie about repentance and rebirth. It is set during the time when China was plagued with internal conflicts and at the same time threatened by foreign forces. General Hou Jie is a greedy warlord, whose thirst for power is only matched by his second-in-command Cao Man. Right from the start, the movie shows how tyrannical the two men are as they chase down their enemy inside the compounds of the Shaolin temple. They didn’t listen to the abbot’s pleas to spare the man’s life.

Just when it looks like Hou Jie is invincible, he is betrayed by Cao Man. And as a total reversal of fortunes, he goes to the Shaolin temple to seek the monk’s help to rescue his daughter. This started the warlord’s metamorphosis. At this point of Shaolin, the pace settled down as it builds up for the explosive ending.

In Shaolin, Andy Lau shows us why he’s one of Hong Kong’s superstars. His portrayal of Hou Jie is different from that of Jet Li in the 1982 movie Shaolin. Lau might not have Li’s martial arts expertise but he made up for it with his acting.

Jackie Chan as the cook provides the much needed comic relief after the intense scenes from Nicolas Tse and Andy Lau. He might just be a support in Shaolin but Chan’s character will be remembered hours or even days after watching the movie.

Shaolin is an epic kung-fu movie that is ended badly. The moral of the story that was provided in the middle would be forgotten by the bloody finale. I lost count of the number of dead people in the last sequence and I’m with the abbot when he said enough. But I guess that was what really happened in the Shaolin temple and a movie can’t change that.

Shaolin is well-paced that it doesn’t feel like a two hour long movie. The actors did well and the action scenes were well-choreographed. It is entertaining enough that’s worth the watch. I wish Fan Bingbing had more screen time.

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