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Film / Disciples of Shaolin

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Disciples of Shaolin is a 1975 Shaw Brothers martial arts film directed by Chang Cheh, starring Alexander Fu Sheng.

Kuan Feng-yi (Fu Sheng) is a farm boy and rebellious orphan living in the rural city outskirts, whose only known skills while growing up includes fighting, training in kung-fu, and being a naughty troublemaker. Making his way to the big city to seek his alleged long-lost uncle, Feng-yi ends up joining a textile mill after befriending a local kung-fu master, Huang Huan, who works as a mill supervisor managed to secure a job for Feng-yi in the mill as well. All is good until a rival mill owned by a ruthless Manchurian lord wants to stomp out all rival businesses.

The Shaws will remake this movie eighteen years later with The Bare-footed Kid starring Aaron Kwok and Ti Lung.


Disciples of Shaolin contains examples of:

  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: The first of many injuries sustained by Feng-yi during the battle against Boss Ha, courtesy of a mook's hidden Sword Stick.
  • Barefoot Poverty: Only referenced though, and not shown onscreen, but when narating to Hsiao Ying about his past, Feng-yi said he spends much of his childhood without shoes, and that he rarely wear shoes on a regular basis until he's past his teens.
  • Bash Brothers: Kuan Feng-yi and Huang Han, the two main protagonists, who hits it off easily when they first meet and quickly become close friends.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Most characters who dies tends to cough up blood, since this is a kung-fu film that doesn't feature edged weapons the only way to tell a named character is a goner is the blood coming out from their lips. Such as Guan Feng-yi and Boss Ha.
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  • Country Mouse: Kuan Feng-yi is a youth from the rural outskirts seeking to make a name for himself in the big city.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Every named character in the film is an ass-kicker who had plenty of fight scenes.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Most of the fights in the movie involves bare-knuckles and punching, including the final fight between Huang Han and Boss Ha.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy: Boss Ha mastered the skill of Eagle Claw in his kung fu fighting moves, and can dislodge a person's throat simply by grabbing the neck. Exhibit A: Feng-yi.
  • Karmic Death: Boss Ha, who killed Huang Han's best friend Feng-yi by dislodging his throat, ends up getting killed when Huang Han lands a fatal jab into his throat, enough to choke him.
  • Pinball Protagonist: While Feng-yi is the first character introduced and dominates much of the movie's earlier chapters, with plenty of focus given on him during the film's beginning hour, the movie suddenly shifts it's focus to Huang Han after Feng-yi's sudden death, some twenty minutes before the end credits.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Feng-yi the brash and naive hotheaded country boy is the red, Huang Han the patient, self-contained and more matured senior as the blue. The former is also the more talkative and impulsive of the two.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Clocks are often seen as an omen of death in Asian culture, due to being seen as a symbol of a person's time on earth being limited. In the confrontation between Feng-yi and Boss Ha, the boss' musical clock is prominently shown and given focus, and at the end of the scene Feng-yi had died, killed by the boss.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Feng-yi's fight against Boss Ha and his men while he's bleeding to near-death from having a sword shoved through his torso has a smooth, soothing, instrumental tune from Boss Ha's music stopwatch playing in the background.
  • Sword Cane: This is the weapon used to ambush Feng-yi in his penultimate last stand, where a mook whips out a short sword hidden in a walking stick and stabs it into Feng-yi's torso while he's unaware.
  • Training Montage: The movie's opening credits is played over Feng-yi training himself in a hall full of dummies. Much later in the film Feng-yi and Huang Han had another training scene for themselves.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Feng-yi and Huang Han both fights bare-chested in more than one scene, after having their clothes torn off. In typical Shaw fashion...


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