In the year and a half (!!!) since I started this blog, I've spotlighted the works of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and other martial arts superstars. This week, it's finally Jet Li's turn.
Set during Wang Shi-chung's rebellion, we open with a young man (Jet Li) preparing to formally become a shaolin monk. As he's asked to accept the commandment against killing, he flashes back to the events of the past couple of years. Originally named Hsiao Hu, he and his father were enslaved by Wang Jen-tse (Yu Cheng-hui), a general in Wang Shi-chung's army. (Wikipedia and a couple of other websites misidentify him as Wang Shi-chung himself, but the film makes it clear they're separate people.) Hsiao Hu's father, a famed warrior known as Mighty Leg Chang, was killed by Wang for defending a fellow prisoner from abuse. However, Hsiao Hu escaped from Wang's fortress and happened to make his way to the shaolin temple, barely alive. He was nursed back to health by shaolin monks, including the man who would become his sifu (Yu Hai) and his daughter, Pak Wu-sha (Ding Laam). As Hsiao Hu recovered, he befriended the sifu and several of the younger disciplies, many of whom had lost family at the hands of Wang Jen-tse, or were in hiding from his army. After seeing them practicing shaolin kung fu, which is reserved only for monks, he decided to become a monk himself.