Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 24th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1985
Director: Liu Chia-liang
Cast: Hou Hsiao, Chia Hui Liu, Lily Li, Jason Pai Piao, Chia-Liang Liu
DVD released: December 7th, 2010
Approximate running time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Mandarin, Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, English SDH
DVD Release: Dragon Dynasty
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.97
Synopsis: Fong Shiyu (Hsiao Ho) is a daydreamer who is often up to mischief which leads to him getting himself and his family in trouble. Qin gymnasium is run by the Manchurians and they don’t take kindly to Hans trespassing on their property. One day Fong Shiyu sees a Shaolin monk enter the Qin gymnasium. Fong Shiyu and his two brothers follow the monk inside which leads bad blood between their family and the Manchurians. Fong Shiyu and his brothers are then taken to the Shaolin temple until the trouble boils over. Fong Shiyu continues to cause problems while studying at the temple which leads to him being expelled from the temple. The double crossing Manchurians befriend Fong Shiyu and ask him to invite nine of his fellow Shaolin brothers to join him for a wedding between a Manchurian and a Han. Can the Manchurians or do they have some sinister plot to get rid of their enemies?
Gordon Liu Chia-hui reprises the role of San Te which he first played previous in the films The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and Return to the 36th Chamber. This time around San Te is more of a mentor then the focus of the story. Even in a secondary role Liu Chia-hui has plenty to do and even has a few of the films standout moments. The bulk of the film revolves around the childish behavior of Fong Shiyu who is played by Hsiao Ho. Overall his antics tend to get annoying as the film progresses. The training sequence in which the Shaolin run up a step wall defies gravity as the two leads Fong Shiyu and San Te at one point square off against each other. The action is solid throughout and the performances are first rate. The Arc of the story keeps things moving and interesting until the very end.
Dragon Dynasty presents Disciples of the 36th Chamber in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original ‘Shawscope’ aspect ratio. This transfer has been flagged for progressive playback. Colors look nicely saturated and levels look consistently good throughout. Details look crisp and there are no problems with compression. Also this new transfer from Dragon Dynasty is proper NTSC transfer and not a standard conversion like the region 3 DVD release from IVL / Celestial.
This release comes with two audio options, a Dolby Digital Mono mix in Mandarin and a Dolby Digital Mono mix in English. Both audio mixes are in very good shape. There are no problems with distortion or background noise. The English subtitles have many instances where they are different than what is being said during the English ‘dubbed’ audio mix and they do not appear to be ‘dub titles’.
Extras for this release include an audio commentary with Hong Kong film expert Bey Logan and promos for other titles also available on DVD from Dragon Dynasty. Once again another solid audio commentary from Bey Logan. Overall Disciples of the 36th Chamber gets a first rate DVD from Dragon Dynasty.