Jackie Chan will be back on the big screen and playing a deadly Shaolin monk in this year's foreign-language martial arts epic, Shaolin. Well, sort of.
Although Chan makes a prominent appearance in the Shaolin trailer, the real star of the film is Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs) as the Chinese warlord General Hou. All the same, it's another good move on Chan's part after his appearance in last year's Karate Kid remake and his upcoming role in the historical drama 1911 (we'll pretend The Spy Next Door never happened).
Shaolin (a.k.a. The New Shaolin Temple) is actually an "updated" version (remake?) of Jet Li's 1982 film debut, The Shaolin Temple. Benny Chan (New Police Story, Robin-B-Hood) served as director on Shaolin, which takes place during the Warlord Era (1916-1928) of early Republican China.
Here is the official synopsis for Shaolin:
As feuding warlords fight to expand their power, the noble monks of the Shaolin Temple clean up the mess left behind, tending to the injured while trying their best to protect the poor and weak. General Hou (Lau) has caused much of this mess with his violent and ruthless tactics that rarely discriminate between soldiers and civilians. When Hao is betrayed by fellow general Cao Man (Nicholas Tse), he is forced into hiding, and takes refuge with the monks (including Jackie Chan) at their hidden mountain temple. As the days pass, he finds himself more and more at ease as he learns the ways of peace, and begins to release his hatred through Martial Zen. But Cao is not far behind, and war soon reaches the temple, where the monks are ready to fight back- with their unstoppable Shaolin Kung Fu.
Chan's remake opened overseas in several Asian countries, including China, earlier this year, and became a major box office success in Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia. It will reach U.S. shores this September.
Check out the trailer for Shaolin (via iTunes Movie Trailers) below:
By and large, Shaolin looks like a conventional martial arts redemption tale that sees Hou lose everything, seek penance for his destructive ways, and re-dedicate himself to a far more noble goal: stopping his onetime partner-in-crime, the power-hungry Cao Man. Standard, but still engaging when done well.
As is the case with just about every historical martial arts flick that comes out of China, it's the action and fight sequences that will attract most U.S. moviegoers to Shaolin. Chan appears to have gone with a more grounded aesthetic than recent imports, like the slew of Zhang Yimou-directed, hyper-stylized martial arts dramas (see: Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower). The showdown between Man's forces, Hou, and the Shaolin monks at their remote temple looks to be the climactic set piece of the film - and a pretty grand one at that. Whether it'll hold a candle to the final battle in Takashi Miike's recent Samurai tale, 13 Assassins, remains to be seen.
Be sure to also check out the Shaolin poster (via Coming Soon) below:
Shaolin will arrive in U.S. theaters on September 9th, 2011.
Source: iTunes Movie Trailers