Superkicking legend John Liu and the late stunt icon Blacky Ko team up in this classic kung fu film.

Chow Li-Chin is a lowly man who is made inferior to rich man Chu Tsang. He is especially embarrassed because he is deeply in love with Chu’s daughter Tin Chin. Chu feels as if Chow will always resort to being not good enough for his daughter. At the same time, Ling Chu-Feng, a sheriff from another town, goes undercover to search for a former Shaolin monk who is responsible for twenty robberies and deaths in his town.

When Ling saves Chow from a massive beating from Chu and his men, he is told by the local magistrate Chin to stay out of trouble. Chow, who lives with his uncle, meets Ling the following day to thank him and explains his story. When Ling reveals his identity and tells Chow why he is in town, Chow offers to help him find the ex-monk in exchange for kung fu lessons so he can earn the respect of Chu. When the ex-monk starts to strike and frame Chu’s number one for the murders, Ling and Chow realize that only they can stop the perpetrator before it’s too late.

This classic kung fu film co-written and directed by Chang Hsin-Yi is actually pretty good not only because of the fight scenes, but the subplots involve play a vital role in the overall film. The film has a dash of another John Liu film, The Secret Rivals, mixed in as there is a scene where he is bested by the masked ex-monk only to train and find a way to counter his near fatal technique. There are also a few love stories mixed in as Blacky Ko’s Chow is in love with Cecilia Wong’s Tin Chin and Liu himself finds a companion in a local brother girl, Hao Man-Li’s Hsiang Lan, who genuinely loves the high-kicking lawman.

While Liu engages in some exhilarating fights where he gets to showcase his impressive kicking skills, Blacky Ko also impresses with his acrobatics and kicking skills as Ling’s friend and protégé Chow. Ko, a stuntman who in 1992 jumped over the Great Wall on his motorcycle and 1997, jumped over the Yellow River in a modified car, shows he is more than a fighter as we see him in scenes with Wong that shows an emotional range. Kung fu legend Jack Long has a few short exchanges in the role of rich man Chu, who believes he owns all the power in town.

Choreographed by co-stars Ko and Alan Hsu (who plays Chow’s uncle), the fights are pretty good, including Liu taking on two brothers hired by the ex-monk who have blades attached to their forearms. Ko starts out as a punching bag but once he trains under Liu, he trains hard and even shows Wong a thing or two when they have a friendly spar. The finale, pitting Liu, Ko, and the ex-monk is quite nice in a Secret Rivals kind of way.

Shaolin Ex-Monk is a good John Liu vehicle, but don’t count out Blacky Ko’s lovestruck hero, who goes from zero to hero and shows off some impressive flips and bootwork as well.


A Golden Sun (H.K.) Film Ltd. Production. Director: Chang Hsin-Yi. Producer: Helen Wu. Writers: Chang Hsin-Yi and Song Hsiang-Yu. Cinematography: Chen Hei-Lok. Editing: Wan Siu.

Cast: John Liu, Blacky Ko, Cecilia Wong, Jack Long, Alan Hsu, Chang Chi-Ping, Yueh Yang, Ching Kuo-Chung, Hsieh Chung-Mon.