Two rivaling families live on opposite sides of a river. One of them practices Shaolin kung fu and has only sons, while the other has only daughters and practices the Wu-Tang sword.
The father of the Wu-Tang family is so paranoid about the Shaolin kids stealing his sword style (besides, he wants a son to teach it to, and the closest thing he has is a daughter) that he is taken off guard when some real bad guys come along to kill his family, but the Shaolin family helps them out.
All the while, everyone is desperately trying to get the lesbian girl to marry Jet Li.
Jet Li ... San Lung
Chia Hui Liu
Cheng-Hui Yu ... Pao Shen Feng / Wu Tang Dad
Director: Xinyan Zhang
Codecs: XVid / MP3
Runtime: 103 mins
The problem with so very many Chinese martial arts films is their tendency to be cheapo junk. Kids of Shaolin, starring Jet Li back when he was a Chinese action film star is not cheap looking at all! Honestly though, nobody sees a martial arts film for the production value. They see it for the martial arts.
This film's emphasis isn't so much on people beating the living daylights out of each other. Instead it's the acrobatics that are most on display. Of course, Jet Li as the oldest brother is a brilliant athlete, but he isn't the main attraction by far!
The kids in the title are DAZZLING!!! There are a few scenes where the clan of Shaolin boys compete with the clan of Wu-Tang girls, trying to show each other up. These scenes are some of THE MOST IMPRESSIVE acrobatics I've seen anywhere. During these scenes, the background is filled with the beautiful and dramatic steep mountains and winding rivers of China. I really can't say enough about these scenes, which easily make the movie great.
Don't get me wrong, it's not a perfect film by a long shot, but these kids are so impressive that they make this film a must-see.
This was Jet Li's second movie and was once again a Mainland Chinese production. The tone is on the opposite end of Shaolin Temple's: light-hearted and fun. The movie tells the story of two families on different sides of a river: Yu Hai's family of Shaolin martial arts'trained boys(one of whom is Jet Li) and another guy's family of Wudang (Wu Tang) swordsmanship-trained girls. There's been a rivalry between the families and that's interfering with the wedding between various members of the families who love each other. Also, there are some vicious bandits who want revenge after Yu Hai rescued the boys and injured their leader.
The cast is made up of authentic wushu stylists, and it shows. Everyone knows how to fight in this movie. The little girls, the little boys, the men, the women, the thieves, etc. Therefore, all the action is pure, authentic Chinese martial arts (pole, sword, 3-sectional staff, etc). The choreography is a lot different than people today are used to. However, if you like your fighting w/o extensive use of wire and special FX, this is definitely worth checking out. My only gripe is that Jet Li has to compete with the rest of the cast in showing off his skills.
The main flaw of this film is that although everyone in the cast are martial artists, the ensemble casting and numerous sub-plots take away from character development and not every subplot gets to be developed. The story jumps from one character's story to the next, and therefore not everyone gets to be fully developed.
I must say that the story and the children made the film more endearing. Jet Li is probably at his most likable (he's up there with his performance in Fong Sai Yuk). The little children are pretty enjoyable little scamps, just don't go into the film expecting a dead-serious martial arts movie. It's light-hearted and fancy free.
KIDS FROM SHAOLIN is a lot of fun, but only if you like your kung fu with lots of cheese. Not the kind of cheese that's bad, but the kind that makes a movie endearing and fun. This movie is a pseudo sequel to SHAOLIN TEMPLE; the only connection is the fact that it is popularly referred to as such. And while the first movie was an extremely serious movie, filled with action and betrayal and other elements that make the movie exciting, this new movie was quite different. This was an attempt to make a comedic kung fu movie, similar to the goofier Lau Kar-leung efforts like DIRTY HO, but with a weird sort of family oriented slant. This is notable due to the fact that this type of thing was already going out of style by the time this movie was made, but that never kept the mainland Chinese film-makers from doing their thing.
The story, or what little non-action, non-comedic nonsense is left in the movie's running time, is about a rivalry between two families. One is the family of the village leader, Pao, a master of a unique form of Wu-tang swordsmanship, who has nothing but girls in his household. This is unfortunate, because only a male can inherit all the secrets of his martial arts. The other family is a group of boys who were rescued by a former monk and his brother, who raises them as his own sons. The dad wants to marry one of Pao's daughters, but Pao is suspicious of him, because of his Shaolin roots. One of his daughters eventually ends up getting to know one of the Shaolin boys, who have started to play with the Wutang girls. Unexpectedly, the bandits who the boys were saved from by their adoptive father decide to hatch a plan to invade Pao's village, and send somebody to stir up trouble to get rid of the Shaolin guys. In the end, they all have to work together to get rid of the horrible, barbaric bandits.
Cheung Yam-yim seemed to realize that his first collaboration with Jet Li and other Beijing wushu team members was a great success with the youth of China, and so he must have set out intentionally to make a movie directed at them. Much of the movie is devoted to kids doing goofy kid things. Everything from silly games to obnoxious songs make their way into the movie, but thankfully are unobtrusive once the movie gets started moving faster. Even the opening is done in animation, which unlike the Japanese, the people of China have never viewed as anything other than juvenile silliness. There's also lots of goofy humor about butts and penises that's thoroughly puerile, but the movie is about boys acting like boys, so it's acceptable (sort of). What makes it interesting is that the kids, both boys and girls, are truly talented at performing their fight sequences. This is featured quite well. The biggest problem with the story is not the childish side-features, but the fact that the movie doesn't know who to villianize until the finale. Pao doesn't act reasonable at all, especially when he suddenly decides to kill one of his daughters. Aside from this stupid and out of place scene, there's a strong theme of family loyalty and familial love. All the good stuff that the government censors can approve of in China.
It's hard to explain the cast. None of the young children are easy to identify, at least not without a substantial knowledge of Mandarin, while the others are regulars of Cheung Yam-yim's wushu movies. Jet Li does, of course, play the lead character, this time a goofy young man who leads the younger boys in mischief. Ding Laan is on hand, she even sings a song, while Jet Li gets a new love interest in Wong Chau-yin, his real life girlfriend at the time. The dad and his brother are played by Yu Hai and Hu Jiang Qian, while Yue Sing-wai plays Pao. The bandits are lead by Gai Chun-wa and Sun Jian-kui, both of whom would play villains in various new-wave movies like TAI CHI MASTER and WHITE LOTUS CULT.
The action is magnificent. Clearly shot and performed with tenacity, it's a step up from SHAOLIN TEMPLE. It's still a bit flowery, but not to a degree that makes it boring. There's a great tournament between the boys and girls, as well as some training, but the real action doesn't start until the finale. The end fight is explosive, with great use of extras, Yue Sing-wai performing great swordplay, and some exotic weapons from the bandits. The pay-off is a sequence where Jet Li uses a three section staff against two other fighters using the same weapon. The stunt work is well done and the fighting fast paced, while the camera work and editing keep up well. The film-makers cut between various individuals characters so as everybody gets a chance to show their stuff. This is an ensemble effort, although Li is definitely center stage by the end, which sets it apart from similar Hong Kong movies. Even the kids are featured. The battle features absurd amounts of carnage, but not too much blood. This is also the most energetic sequence ever filmed by the under-appreciated Cheung, who seemed to be slowing down by the point he made YELLOW RIVER FIGHTER.
This is worth the time to watch, although some people don't seem to like the comedy or lack of cohesive story. To be honest though, these things are not really that important to this genre, and the finale is reason enough to make any aficionado of kung fu movies interested in this particular movie.
Jet Li was Wushu (a martial art) world champion several times. He got his first part as a shaolin disciple in the film Shaolin Temple. He first attempt at directing, Zhong hua ying xiong (1986) (Born to defend), met with failure. But, it was good film regardless. Because it was the first time Jet directed and had more realistic fight scenes.
Won Chinese national championship in the acrobatic martial art wushu when he was 11; his prize was a trip to Washington D.C. to meet President Richard Nixon.
He studies English with a tutor for 4 hours a day.
Jet & wife Nina Li Chi became parents to a 6 lb. 13 oz. daughter, Jane. [19 April 2000]
Was originally cast in the role of the character Li Mu Bai in Ang Lee's martial arts blockbuster Wo hu cang long (2000) (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), but turned it down. The decision was prompted by a promise to his wife Nina Li Chi that he would not work while she was pregnant. The role of Li Mu Bai went to actor Yun-Fat Chow. Li said this himself during an appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (1992) promoting Kiss of the Dragon (2001).
Other than providing voice-overs for Kit Yun in Rise to Honor (2003) (VG), he also did the motion-capture for his fight scenes.
Injured his foot while escaping the tsunami that followed a 9.0 earthquake in the Indian Ocean. Li and his four year old daughter were on vacation in the Maldives on December 26th, 2004. The two were in the lobby of their hotel when the wave came ashore. Scooping up his daughter and running for higher ground, a piece of furniture hit his foot, causing the injury.
Has claimed his upcoming martial arts film Huo Yuan Jia (2006) (Fearless) will be his last martial arts movie, and that he will concentrate on other matters in the future. One of those matters is apparently a documentary about Buddhism.
His Mandarin name is Li Lianjie. His Cantonese name is Lei Lin-Git (or Lee Lin-Kit).
Has played both real life legend Huo Yuan Jia (in Huo Yuan Jia (2006)) and his semi-fictional student Chen Zhen (in Jing wu ying xiong (1994)).
Sustained bruised ribs while filming the fight stunts with Anthony Anderson for Romeo Must Die (2000).