Shaolin Wooden Writing.
1976, Hong Kong
Does anyone remember those giant cave monsters in Hercules Against the Moon Men? No? Well, the Shaolin Wooden Men look like that. Jackie Chan, however, does not look like Hercules. He also doesn’t look like Jackie Chan, since this film was made before Chan underwent plastic surgery on his eyelids to look more Western. It didn’t work. Now he just looks like a surprised Chinese waiter.
I’d describe more of the film to you, but I’m a little disappointed none of you cared for my Hercules reference. It’s pretty hard work keeping all this pointless trivia in my head, and it would be nice if every once in a while it was appreciated. This isn’t easy, you know. Do you have any idea how long it takes to work a review of King Kong Vs. Godzilla into a tirade against the European Jewry? And for what? It never gets read. Everyone just sits around this site, lurking like a pederast in a Chucky Cheese restroom, waiting for me to write a Brokeback Mountain review full of gay jokes. Fine. You want me to go the easy route and be like every other hack critic, taking the obvious joke and the easy punchline? Have it your way.
Shaolin Wooden Men
1976, Hong Kong
On the Internet Movie Database, Shaolin Wooden Men isn’t credited with a writer (set ‘em up). This is not surprising (knock ‘em down). Like most kung-fu films, Shaolin Wooden Men has less plot than a Chinese menu (bad metaphor + implied racism = LA Times review). Though Chan is always a pleasure to watch (tempering above racism with “some of my best friends are Chinamen” platitude), this early entry in his oeuvre (film school word) has little of the mix of action and slapstick comedy that would make him the Buster Keaton of the martial arts genre (general reference to common and accepted view of artist’s work, included to prove that background research in the form of Google search of Roger Ebert.com has been conducted). Following a young, mute acolyte at a Shaolin Temple, the film gives us little emotional depth in the characters (one for the critics), and even less in terms of exciting action scenes (and one for the cheap seats). Chan, as the student, befriends an imprisoned fallen monk, and finds himself caught in a struggle between a gang of bandits and the temple (obligatory exposition, handled just as blandly in the review as it was in the movie). In essence (warning: conclusion ahead), Shaolin Wooden Men, while not a completely worthless film, functions mainly as a warm-up to later, better Jackie Chan fare (wait for it…), an appetizer, if you will, for main courses to come (quickly! Bring it back to the opening menu joke, before it’s too late!). Personally, I prefer sweet and sour soup.