Shaolin

  • Review Date: September 9, 2011
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 131 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Martial arts epic is more violent than others in the genre.
  • Review Date: September 9, 2011
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 131 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie's main theme has to do with shunning violence in favor of compassion, and it's presented clearly and powerfully. That said, the film uses an enormous amount of violence to make that point -- even the compassion is demonstrated during the heat of battle.

Positive role models

The main character learns to give up his hateful, violent ways and begins to show compassion, even for his most brutal enemies. Another character begins the film thinking very little of himself, but he learns that he can be useful and eventually becomes a leader.

Violence

Tons of violence, ranging from martial arts battles to slicing, stabbing, and shooting with copious amounts of blood. The overall tone is serious and tragic. Children are involved in some of the violent acts; one little girl dies, and some boys are shot at. There's fire, explosions, destruction, and lots of dead bodies. Horses are shown getting injured.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

The words "bastard," "damn," and "hell" pop up in the English subtitles.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

What's the story?

In the early days of the Chinese Republic, a warlord, General Hou (Andy Lau), and his sworn brother, Cao Man (Nicholas Tse), ravage the land, conquering, stealing, and slaughtering as they go. Lusting for more power, Cao arranges to betray his old friend through a staged assassination -- in the violence, Hou's daughter is killed. Hou finds himself lost, wanted by his former men, and gravely injured. A cook (Jackie Chan) at the nearby Shaolin temple rescues him and nurses him back to health, and Hou soon finds that the monks' belief in Martial Zen helps him let go of his hatred. Unfortunately, Cao still has some evil plans up his sleeve.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Big, historical martial arts epics have been making money in China, so there are a lot of them; SHAOLIN is one of several to make the leap to the United States. It's well executed, and it has many dazzling moments, but that's not enough to vault it to the top of the heap. Director Benny Chan, who's best known for some of Jackie Chan's more recent films, simply doesn't have the grace or style of someone like Yuen Woo Ping (True Legend) or John Woo (Red Cliff).

 
The plot has very few surprises, and Benny Chan's direction doesn't seem to get inside the material. However, Jackie Chan brings some warm energy to his supporting role -- a rarity for this big star -- and turns in a delightfully self-effacing performance. The character's "coming out" sequence is truly wonderful. In the other roles, while Tse doesn't bring much depth to his sneering villain, star Lau -- with his handsomely angular face -- gives a fine performance.

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 details

Theatrical release date:September 9, 2011
DVD release date:October 25, 2011
Cast:Andy Lau, Jackie Chan, Nicholas Tse
Director:Benny Chan
Studios:Variance Films, Well Go USA
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Sports and martial arts
Run time:131 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence

This review of Shaolin was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 14 years old Written byarman kalantari January 28, 2012
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

i love the movie action violence i like

i like this movie so much that i almost whatch it every day
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential Apps Guide