(1974)1Donald GuariscoFive Shaolin Masters is a solid example of the kung fu epic done Shaw Brothers-style. The I. Kuang script wastes no time, tossing the viewer into the middle of the story as the heroes flee the destruction of the Shaolin Temple. This choice strengthens the episodic first half of the film because it allows each hero to be "revealed" to the viewer as his story unfolds. The most notable performances during this section come from David Chiang as the group's stoic, unquestionably honorable leader and Fu Sheng as the naïve but promising powerful youngest member. Fu Sheng in particular brings a necessary bit of levity to a serious film with his sly comedic timing. This material is given style and scope by the reliable Chang Cheh, but his skills as a director really kick in during the second half as he builds from intensive training sequences to a multi-fight finale. The finished film has some elements that might put off some modern viewers (its old-fashioned pacing, a typical Shaw Brothers-style use of canned music), but Five Shaolin Masters boasts enough action and style to please fans of old-school kung fu epics.