Movie Reviews

This 48-Year-Old Movie Is The Expendables Of The Kung Fu Movie Genre That You Need To See


  • Shaolin Temple, like The Expendables, boasts a star-studded cast of kung fu movie legends from the 1970s and 1980s.
  • The 1976 film brought together top actors like David Chiang, Ti Lung, and Alexander Fu Sheng, as well as the iconic Venom Mob.
  • With Chang Cheh directing, Shaolin Temple successfully balanced multiple leading actors in a thrilling story of Shaolin monks preparing for battle.

Released 48 years ago, Shaolin Temple is the kung fu movie equivalent of The Expendables. Created by Sylvester Stallone, The Expendables franchise has a well-earned reputation for featuring the largest casts of action heroes ever assembled on the big screen. But while that’s certainly true of Stallone’s films, they’re not the only movies to bring in impressive ensembles of actors for an action-packed adventure.

Though technically action films themselves, old school kung fu movies belong in sort of their own subgenre, with Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee obviously being the two biggest stars associated with the medium. The Expendables notably provided representation for kung fu movies by having Jet Li play one of the main characters on Barney Ross’ team. But as a Hollywood film built around mostly American-style action stars, kung fu was never its real focus. That said, the martial arts genre isn’t without its own star-studded movie.

Shaolin Temple Has A Star-Studded Cast Of Kung Fu Movie Stars

The cast was made up of leading actors, just like The Expendables

Arguably the closest thing the kung fu movie genre has to its own version of The Expendables is Shaolin Temple. The 1976 film was the product of Shaw Brothers, the biggest studio in the kung fu film industry. For Shaolin Temple, which was clearly intended to be a massive undertaking, Shaw Brothers brought nearly all of its highest-paid stars to put together a top-tier cast. As a result, the cast was lined with names who headlined some of the best kung fu movies of the 1970s and 1980s.

Shaolin Temple
is not to be confused with the 1982 film of the same name that starred Jet Li.

Some were already famous, whereas others were on the rise, which helped make it a diverse cast of kung fu movie stars. Its top-billed stars were David Chiang and Ti Lung, who were Shaw Brothers’ go-to lead actors through most of the 1970s. Also involved was Alexander Fu Sheng, a popular actor who served as a headlining star in his own right. What’s more, Shaolin Temple featured all five main members of the Venom Mob, the team of actors known for the cult classic martial arts film The Five Deadly Venoms.

The Venom Mob consists of Chiang Sheng, Lu Feng, Phllip Kwok, Lo Mang, and Sun Chien.

Shaolin Temple Is The Definitive Kung Fu Movie Star Team-Up

Ti Lung And David Chiang’s Characters Led A Group Of Martial Arts Heroes

Shaolin Temple 1976 image

Like The Expendables, Shaolin Temple had the challenge of balancing an array of stars, many of which were actors who typically led their own films. Aided by having one of the best martial arts directors of all time in Chang Cheh helming the film, Shaolin Temple pulled that off with a streamlined story that saw a large gathering of Shaolin monks prepare for an attack on the temple, each learning the techniques they needed to prepare for the fights ahead. And with so many characters in the spotlight, the winners of the final fights in the climax were impossible to predict, thus making it all the more entertaining.

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