Box art for Shaolin


  • Rated R

independent, special interest

In a young Republic of China, where greedy warlords fuel a period of war and strife, Hou Jie (Andy Lau) arrogantly shows no mercy to his enemies seeking refuge with the benign and compassionate Shaolin monks.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 16
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
0 out of 5
2 out of 5
Positive messages
2 out of 5
Positive role models
3 out of 5
0 out of 5
4 out of 5
0 out of 5

Martial arts epic is more violent than others in the genre.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this subtitled martial arts epic from Hong Kong and China is a particularly violent example of the genre. Not only are there (beautifully choreographed) martial arts fights, but there's also frequent shooting, stabbing, slicing, explosions -- and lots of blood. There's a serious, tragic tone to the violence, and children and animals are involved in some of it -- a little girl dies after a battle, soldiers fire warning shots at boys, and horses are injured. There are no other real issues except for the occasional iffy word in the subtitles, like "damn," "hell," and "bastard." Teen fans of martial arts movies will want to see this, especially given the presence of stars Andy Lau, Nicholas Tse, and Jackie Chan, but the level of violence shouldn't be underestimated.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. How does it compare to other martial arts movies? What about to horror movies? How are certain scenes different from others?
  • Why would the Shaolin monks practice fighting and martial arts when they're dedicated to compassion? Can violence lead to peace?
  • The cook learns to believe in himself by using skills he already had in new ways. What skills do you have that could be used in more active or more positive ways?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 10
    see all Shaolin reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: The kung fu itself is great fun to watch, from the discipline of balancing on one foot on a wooden pillar, the other in the air, for hours at a time to the confrontations that send fist and feet flying.

- Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times, Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fresh: An ambitious, almost epic drama that devotes as much time to introspection as it does to combat.

- Gary Dowell, Dallas Morning News, Friday, September 9, 2011

Fresh: The epic feel to this Hong Kong action-drama helps balance a lack of hand-to-hand combat scenes.

- Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News, Friday, September 9, 2011

Audience Reviews

3 stars

Fantasy martial arts tale built on the simple story of a man who makes a terrible mistake, hurting everyone who loved him, and spends the rest of his life clearing his mind, rebuilding the way he sees the world and atoning for his sins by protecting the weak. A simple, solid story that was beautifully acted and really moved me. Everyone finds their place. And of course I've been an Andy Lau fan my whole life because people think my dad looks like him. Or should I say, he looks like my dad.

- fb223580, Tuesday, May 8, 2012

4 stars

Really good film. Lots of great choreography. Jackie Chan shows up in this, and he adds alot of humor. The only thing that took away from the movie was the foreign troops that show up to cause conflict...the lead soldier was a horrible actor. But that is such a small section, and it doesn't take away from this film. Good all around movie.

- itsjustme2004, Monday, February 6, 2012

3 stars

the film had some excellent moments. the story was predictable but still engaging, some of the action was solid, and the film looked great. however there was so much about this film that disappointed. some of the action was silly, and the end of the film fell flat at so many moments. i was looking forward to this film with much anticipation, but in the end, it was just a tad above average.

- sanjurosamurai, Thursday, October 27, 2011