36 Chambers of Southern Shaolin

Reviewed by: JadeB

October 24, 2005

Rating: five

Jason Wu Jing as Fang Shiyu
Anita Yuen as Lu Siniang
Zhang Tie Ling as Emperor Yongzhen
Li Nan as Hongli/Qianlong

"36 Chambers" is the sequel to the highly successful "Southern Shaolin". Since the success of the first series, there were high expectation for this series and thanks to great acting, good choreographing, and beautiful sceneries this series was NOT a disappointment. Instead, with a bigger budget and better actors this series actually surpassed the original.

After the massacre of her whole entire clan by Emperor Yongzhen, Lu Siniang set out to Haining to avenge her family by seeking help from her father's friend, Miracle Healer Cao Tai Xu, who is actually Emperor Yongzhen's bodyguard that was sent to protect Lu Siniang and her mother. After using some dirty tricks, Lu Siniang finally convinced Cao Tai Xu to help her kidnap the fourth prince Hongli, who was also in Haining to suppress some Japanese bandits. Siniang wanted to use Hongli as a hostage and a means to get into the palace to assassinate Emperor Yongzhen.

During this time Abbot Xuanbei, the head monk of Southern Shaolin, left a will requesting that Xuanzhen from Northern Shaolin to be the head monk of Southern Shaolin after his death. Fang Shiyu, who was a disciple of Southern Shaolin, was ordered to escort Xuanzhen safely to Southern Shaolin. On the way, Fang Shiyu meets his old friend Hongli and also the beautiful Lu Siniang after some misunderstanding at a brothel.

After many misunderstandings, and even when Fang Shiyu ruined her scheme of kidnapping Hongli time after time, Lu Siniang and Fang Shiyu started to develop feelings for each other. This caused many frictions between Lu Siniang's martial art brother and Fang Shiyu's martial art brother, Yun Ming, a fake monk who is actually a Japanese spy send to look for a hidden treasure. Both Yun Ming and Siniang's 'brother' are in love with her.

After many failures, Lu Siniang finally sneaked into the palace and meets her sworn enemy, Emperor Yongzhen. But after her first attempt of assassinating Yongzhen failed, Siniang was confused at why Yongzhen does not just kill her. Instead he treated her kindly and even seems to be giving her the chance to kill him, because whenever Fang Shiyu or Hongli tried to capture her, he would come to her rescue.

Not long after Lu Siniang's appearance in the palace, Yongzhen was murdered and Hongli ascended the throne as Emperor Qianlong. Convinced that Lu Siniang was responsible for his father's death, Qianlong send four Imperial Guards and the reluctant Fang Shiyu to capture Lu Siniang.

By now Fang Shiyu has successfully escorted Xuanzhen to Southern Shaolin and was preparing to compete with Yun Ming as the chief of 36th Chamber and the protector of a treasure map that was buried at Southern Shaolin Temple.

My Thoughts on the Series
There are no words to express how much I love this series. The storyline was great and it didn't drag and have unnecessary scenes like most Mainland and Taiwan series. The acting was great and the chemistry between Jason Wu Jing and Anita Yuen was excellent. They really make me feel the love between them and really make me believe that they are a real couple (I wish). I wasn't a fan of either of them, but now I am and I think I have just become their biggest fan, because of this series.

Not only does this series have a good storyline and subplots, but it also has a good blend of romance, comedy, and action. If you like real martial art movies with realistic fighting, then this series is definitely for you. Forget about the special effects and CGI, this is hand to hand contact and what more can you ask for in a martial art series when the lead actor (Wu Jing) is a multi-national Wushu champion.

Another bonus to this series are the sceneries. Just looking at the costumes and the sceneries and you know this is a big budget production.

My Thoughts on the Actors
There are more important characters than those that I have listed, but I don't know their names. Still, all I could say is that they all did a good job of portraying their roles. They succeeded in making me laugh, making cry, and making me hate them.

Jason Wu Jing
I wasn't a fan of him until after this series. I have watched all the series and movies that he was in and I honestly thought he was like a block of wood, but I have to say he has improved on his acting dramatically. He portrayed the laidback Fang Shiyu with ease and was successful in bringing out all the good and bad qualities of the character. He was excellent at acting out the character's many emotions. When he is angry, he looks like he's angry. When he is happy you couldn't help but smile when you see how cute his smile is. When he is sad you couldn't help but feel bad for him. Still I think he is the best at being in love. The way he talks to Siniang, the way he smiled at her, or even the way he looked at her, it makes you really think he is in love with her. He is that good when it comes to romantic scenes.

Anita Yuen
Do I even need to say anything when it comes to her acting? Come on, she won two best actress awards and many more. If she could handle her role in "She's a Man, He's a Woman" then she could handle any role. This was no different. She plays the character to perfection.

Zhang Tie Ling
This guy plays so many series where he is Emperor Yongzhen that repeating this role was like eating a cake for him. He looks the part and acted the part, so no complaints here.

Li Nan
This is my second time seeing him act; the first was in Southern Shaolin. He was good at portraying the nice and not so demanding Hongli and the strict and powerful Qianlong.

Overall, I recommend this series to anyone who likes watching martial art series and even if you're not interested in that, you can still enjoy the romance and great acting.

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