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Film / Executioners from Shaolin

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Yeah, the hero is all dressed in girly clothes, and he's a dude. Because why not?

"Having learned that the revolutionaries were using Shaolin Temple as an undercover, the Manchurian Count ordered Priest Pai Mei and his top disciple Kao Tsin Chung, Governor of Kwangtung and Kwangsi, to raid the shaolin Temple. They surrounded the Temple and set fire to it. In an attempt to rescue his disciples, Priest Chi Shan enter into a crucial duel with Priest Pai Mei."
The film's opening Info Dump

Executioners from Shaolin is a 1977 Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Movie directed by Lau Kar-Leung, starring Wong Yue (not to be confused with Jimmy Wang Yu), Chen Kuan-tai, Lo Lieh, Gordon Liu and Lily Li. It is notable for being the first Shaolin-themed filmed NOT directed by Chang Cheh, released in the wake of Chang's earlier Shaolin epic, The Shaolin Temple (1976) from the previous year, and also the first time Lo Lieh gets to portray Master Pai Mei, the infamous Shaolin traitor, a role which he will re-visit in Abbot of Shaolin and Fists of the White Lotus years later.

A good old-fashioned tale of Revenge in the world of kung-fu, set in the aftermath of the Shaolin Temple's destruction: The traitor Pai Mei has allied with the Manchurians to eliminate all resistance from the Shaolin sect, and is on a killing spree to eliminate every Shaolin practitioner in the country. Hung Hsi-kuan, one of the survivors, vows to take revenge on Pai Mei, and spends years training his tiger-style kung fu to defeat him. Along the way, he falls in love with the crane-style practitioner Fang Yung Chun, and they have a son together, Hung Wen-ding. But when Hsi-kuan is unable to overcome Pai Mei, it falls to the young Wen-ding to avenge his father and finally restore glory to the Shaolin clans.


A favourite film of the Wu-Tang Clan, who sampled a line from this movie ("Tiger style!") at the beginning of their classic track "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing ta F' Wit".

Executioners of Shaolin contains examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: Pai Mei's final weak spot: the top of his scalp, which Hong Wen-ding managed to exploit by leaping on Pai Mei's shoulders to deliver a fatal strike.
  • Action Mom: Fang Yung Chun, Wen-ding's mother and mentor played by Lily Li, who kicks as much ass as the men.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The traitorous priest Pai Mei and his right-hand lieutenant, Governor Kao Jin-zhong shares a spot in leading the Manchurian soldiers in hunting and executing Shaolin practitioners.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Hung Hsi-kuan is the main character for the first half of the movie, until his death at Pai Mei's hands. Then the focus shifts to his son, Hung Wen-Ding, who finally saves the day.
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  • Disguised in Drag: For most of his earlier scenes, Hong Wen-Ding is disguised as a girl while in public so that he doesn't get immediately spotted by the Governor's soldiers. It's a Paper-Thin Disguise, however, considering all he had was ribbons and long hair, and he didn't even make any attempts to cover his (obviously masculine) face. It gets him bullied by the other children, but he's already such a badass that he can take care of himself.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Tung Chin-chin puts up hell of a fight against the Governor's henchmen, despite limited screentime. After beating down a number of mooks, he uses two mooks as meatshields when Manchurian archers tries firing arrows at him, and then absorbs numerous arrows and even clawing out the throats of two more soldiers before he finally succumbs.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: Defied in the final battle: When Hong Wen-ding battles Master Pai Mei. Hong managed to pull off Pai Mei's left shoe after he missed a kick. Pai Mei responds by kicking with the same foot, and retrieves his shoe expertly.
  • My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: Almost word for word, when Pai Mei tells Hung Hsi-kuan that "My tiger kung fu is better than yours."
  • Narrating the Obvious: After Hung Wen-ding has defeated Pai Mei in the climatic battle, the film then helpfully states, "A combination of Tiger and Crane styles is what finally defeated Pai Mei." Like, the exact same style we've seen Hong trained in for the past entire hour or so of the film?
  • No-Sell: Hung Hsi-kuan's attempt to inflict a Groin Attack on Pai Mei doesn't work, due to Pai Mei's ability to retract his privates into his groin. Yes, seriously.
  • Older Than They Look: Pai Mei, presumably. Wen-ding is conceived, born, and grows up over the course of the movie, but Pai Mei seems to still be about the same age he was at the beginning. Not only can he No-Sell a Groin Attack, he can even No-Sell time itself.
  • Pressure Point: The only weakness of Master Pai Mei, where upon being penetrated will render him vulnerable. Hong Wen-ding needs to spend most of the film practicing his skills in kung-fu in order to exploit it.
  • Shoe Slap: During the final battle between Hong Wen-ding and Pai Mei's mooks, Hong tries turning the battle around... by pulling off shoes from his enemies, and then throwing those shoes back.
  • Sinister Minister: Pai Mei, the main villain, is a priest.
  • Staircase Tumble: The final battle ends with the hero, Hung Wen-ding and villain Pai Mei tumbling down the steps of the Shaolin Monastery, after the former inflicted a final, fatal blow on Pai Mei's scalp. All 600 steps, with Hung surviving.
  • Training Dummy: In order to train himself to uncover Pai Mei's pressure point, Hong Wen-Ding practices his skills in Shaolin martial arts using a bronze dummy whose surface has grooves representing acupuncture meridians.
  • Training Montage: To have Hong Wen-ding hone his skills in order to defeat Pai Mei and the Manchurians.
  • Villain in a White Suit: Pai Mei spends most of the movie in white robes.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: As is the norm for Shaolin practitioners.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Gordon Liu's Tung Chin-chin, who gave up his life in the first act for the remaining Shaolin heroes to escape.
  • You Killed My Father: After the focus shifts to Hung Wen-ding as the real hero of the story, this becomes his prime motivation in defeating Pai Mei.