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Musings from the Edge of Forever

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with RONIN ON EMPTY.

Archive for the ‘Return to the 36th Chamber’ Category

Retro Review: RETURN TO THE 36TH CHAMBER (1980)

Return to the 36th Chamber

Snazzy Spanish Language Poster to Return to the 36th Chamber

I wasn’t planning on running three retro reviews in a row this week, but I’ve been pretty busy with my dissertation work, and since I’d already started with The 36th Chamber of Shaolin yesterday, I figured I might as well continue spotlighting the second and third entries in the series for today’s post and tomorrow’s follow-up.

This winning, but entirely unconventional sequel recasts the first film’s star, Gordon Liu, as a down-on-his-luck con artist learning the ropes from the very same character he played in the original movie: the venerable Shaolin monk San Te. That may sound confusing, but the role switcheroo actually turns out to actually be a casting masterstroke as it successfully solves the problem of trying to follow up a film like The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, which has a beginning, middle, and end to San Te’s arc with very little room for a sequel. By having Gordon Liu play a different character, one gets to a) experience the “journey”all over again in a way that wouldn’t make sense using the same character or a different actor as the rascally pupil.

Equal parts spoof and straight-ahead martial arts actioner, Return to the 36th Chamber is one of the rare sequels that’s just as much fun as its predecessor.

You can read my review here.


Shameless Self-Promotion

This content of this post may seem a bit unprofessional, but then again, I’ve never felt entirely professional about this writing gig anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I put my heart and soul into what I do for the site, but it’s not like I expect to be invited into the Hong Kong Film Critics Society anytime soon.  With that in mind, I couldn’t help but be tickled when I saw the back cover of Dragon Dynasty’s Return to the 36th Chamber DVD:


The quote is pulled from my positive review of the 1980 Lau Kar-Leung-directed classic. To my knowledge, I’ve only ever been quoted by name once before — on the packaging of Optimum Releasing’s Swordsman 2 DVD in the UK — so it was nice to actually have a DVD that I could point out at Best Buy to my friends and family. Let’s just say it made my day.

Now does Roger Ebert track every time he’s been quoted in print advertisement or DVD boxart? Probably not. But I’m no Roger Ebert.

So if any you folks out there see pull quotes attributed to – or more specifically, quotes from Kozo, Kevin, or me — please let us know.


My picks for the Top Ten Hong Kong Films of the 90s, a Time Machine review, and my thoughts on such semi-recent fare as Storm Warriors, Accident, and Vengeance — unless I keep playing Yakuza 3 into the wee hours of the night, then all bets are off. Copyright © 2002-2023 Ross Chen