Shaolin Wooden Men (1976)

Synopsis:  In this film Jackie portrays an orphan who lives in a Shaolin monastery, and is trying to learn Kung-Fu so he can avenge the death of his father, killed many years before by a masked stranger. He has taken a vow of silence until his father’s death can be avenged. One day he discovers a mysterious prisoner in the dungeons of the monastery, and promises to perform a favor for the prisoner if he will teach him his powerful form of Kung-Fu. In order to leave the monastery, the students must be able fight their way through a room full of wooden robots chained to the wall (thus the title), and with the prisoner’s training, Jackie is able to defeat the robots and go into the outside world. In fulfilling his promise to his teacher, he unwittingly enables him to escape and return to his former life of crime. Now Jackie must help undo this mistake, and in the process discovers his father’s killer, and gets his revenge. 

Debbie's Review:  In my opinion, this is the best movie Jackie made under the direction of Lo Wei.  Shaolin Wooden Men is interesting for a few reasons. For one thing, Jackie’s opera school brother Yuen Biao has a small role as a baddie (look for him in the restaurant scene, harassing the inn-keeper’s daughter). For another, Jackie gets to play a competent fighter instead of the bumbler he played in many of his early films. This film also has a nice variety of fighting styles, as taught to him by the Shaolin Monks, a Shaolin Nun (the Gliding Snake technique), a drunken monk (Drunken technique…maybe this was the inspiration for “Drunken Master”?) and the prisoner in the dungeon (the Killer technique), so Jackie gets to display a variety of skills. And finally, I liked the story, although it was the typical avenge-the-death-of-my-father theme. The fact that Jackie’s character was mute gave him a chance to act only with facial expressions and gestures, and it has the curious effect of really drawing you into the character. The fights are well staged and entertaining, particularly the restaurant fight, where Jackie handily defeats 5 nasty thugs, and the fight at the end against his mentor and teacher. The scenery is nice, too.

Rating: 7/10

Reader Reviews

James's  Review:  The acting is quite bad at times, but Jackie's character is developed quite well, and the scene with the wooden men is quite well done and reasonbly well shot. The fights are okay,nothing ground-breaking,pretty standard fare for the time (as is the plotline), but it's one of Jackie's better early efforts,in my opinion.

Score: 4/10

THENEXTJACKIECHAN's Review: Hey I got this movie out because i read what people has to say about it. so i went to the video shop and checked it out.Do you know what i think? this movie is GREAT for Young 70's Jackie!But the title of the movie "shaolin Wooden men is SO S*^T and the only scene i hated was the stupid Shaolin Robot crap.but after all this movie shows some of Jackie's skills that we can not see in his other movies.overall the martial art and his athletic is great and i give this movie


Gaz@MIHKmovies Review: Jackie really shows off his fantastic acrobatic and balance skills, especially in the originally superb sequence that sees him combating a corridor of wooden robots. The storyline is more interesting than most of his films from this era and the martial arts choreography is imaginative and stylish, however in most of the film the implementation of the moves lack energy and 'punch' (excuse the pun). Probably one of his better Lo Wei movies, but far inferior to 'Drunken Master' or 'Snake & Crane'. JC backflips a 6.

Score: 6/10

Expert Fan Ian Meadows' Review: Shaolin Wooden Men was the movie that got me hook.  This movie was great.  Great fights and story.  This was the second best film Jackie did for Lo Wei next to Fearless Henya (a classic).  If you haven't seen this movie, don't call your self a fan.

Score: 10/10

The Drunken Master's Review: As far as I'm concerned, Shaolin Wooden Men is Jackie's best film with Lo Wei.  The story is the typical "avenge your family's death" thingy, but overall, it was pretty entertaining.  And, unlike quite a few of Jackie's other films with Lo Wei, this one doesn't copy Bruce Lee.  Worth a rental (buy it only in it's original version).

Score: 5/10

A Review: I think that this film is Jackie Chan's best film from the 70s. It has excellent music and wonderful sights. The fights are also very good but very long.

Score: 10/10

Joe's Review: well, this is weird. my tape is messed up, the beginning is in the back of the movie, the middle is in the beginning, and I don't know where everything else is, confused? my version is messed up, but I didn't like this movie much. Jackie is really buff, and does this nasty flexing thing with his back. ending was alright. 

Score: 2/10

Jane Mason's Review:  I liked this movie for several reasons.  Firstly, since he was unable to speak a word through most of this movie, Jackie had to really put in a performance that could be believed by the audience.  He was able to fully develop a character despite the lack of depth in the plot.  Secondly, I thought the water carrying training while wearing lead shoes interesting!  And thirdly, watching a young Jackie Chan just at the beginning of his peak physical prowess is incredible.  The grace, energy, and skill he brought to the genre seems so unappreciated at the time.

Brendan's Review: Pretty standard 1970's kung-fu revenge flick. Some cool fights , although they take a while to really get going. Acting is pretty bad, but the scene with the wooden men is pretty cool. Worth a look, if you can put up with some bad acting at times.

Score: 4/10

Adam JC fan's Review: I liked this movie a lot. It was interesting how Jackie was silent through out the movie, until the end. Many good fights. A good story line.

Score: 8.5/10

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