Return to the 36th Chamber. 1980. Hong Kong. Directed by Lau Kar-leung. With Gordon Liu Chia-hui, Hsiao Hou. DCP. In Cantonese; English subtitles. 100 min.
This quasi follow-up to the masterpiece The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) once again celebrates the intricacies of kung fu training. Gordon Liu Chia-hui shows off his comedic edge as Chieh, who impersonates a Shaolin fighter in order to stand up for a group of exploited textile workers. When his cover is blown, he is determined to seek real training at the temple. Deemed unfit by the head monk, however, he is assigned to build bamboo scaffoldings. Laboring day in and out with the material, Chieh gradually acquires kung fu skills by observing others in training and maneuvering bamboo poles. Lau Kar-leung brilliantly foregrounds this resilient, flexible material, which symbolizes the strength and beauty of Chinese culture.