Shaolin Temple (1982)

Rating: C

Dir: Cheung Yam-Yim
Star: Jet Li, Yue Hoi, Yue Sing-Wai, Ding Lam

Jet Li’s feature debut certainly has its moments – the problem is that the most memorable one is where Li accidentally kills a girl’s dog and buries it, only to change his mind, then dig it up, cook and eat it. Difficult to imagine anything that illustrates better the East/West culture gap, not least because the animal corpse on the roasting-spit was either a fabulous special effect, or… Once you’ve finished shaking your head in wonder, you’ll find some highly impressive bits of martial artistry, in particular the use of weapons which is jaw-dropping, but absolutely nothing beyond the pedestrian in terms of plot or characters.

This was the third film with that title to come out in a six-year span, giving you an idea of how much to expect in terms of originality i.e. not much. Li learns Shaolin kung-fu to avenge his father, murdered by an evil warlord who…oh, we’ve all been here often enough before, so I needn’t go on. You can tell most of the cast members were chosen for their martial arts ability rather than any acting talent, and when the film stops cracking heads together, it varies between the merely sluggish, and the downright painful to watch – particularly for any dog-lovers.