The Disciples of the 36th Chamber
d. Lau Kar-Leung / 1985 / Hong Kong / 89 mins
The third in the Wu-Tang Clan’s favourite film trilogy – and certainly not, I’m reliably informed, the best – this is typically entertaining and energetic stuff from the Shaw Brothers lot, but any judgement is heavily swayed by the fact that I watched a horrible dubbed version, marred by the usual unfathomably bad accents. Hell, one of the main characters even sounded distinctly Irish (perhaps he was voiced by Russell Crowe?)
But whilst it sounded like tripe, The Disciples of the 36th Chamber did remind me why – aside from the sheer brilliance of the action choreography – Shaw Brothers films are considered to be so visually stunning: Shawscope. That’s right, not content to unashamedly crib their logo design from Warner Brothers, they also adapted their own version of Cinemascope, a 2.35:1 ratio format with one of the most ridiculously brilliant colour palates you’re ever likely to encounter (particularly if you only really ever watch films that feature people knocking ten shades out of each other). And thanks to some recent preservation efforts, we are finally getting to see these HK cinema classics in all their Shawscope glory!
Oh, Shawscope, how I love thee. Come to think of it, I’m tempted to buy a t-shirt just to prove it.