"A pure old-school martial arts movie, beloved by aficionados, that also appeals to nonfans simply as a rousing action film. The often-imitated fact-based plot (see The Karate Kid) centers upon the rigorous training process undergone in the mid-19th century by the anti-Manchu Chinese patriot San Te (Gordon Liu). It's depicted as a grueling voyage into the unknown."
"A young man on a mission of vengeance trains at Shaolin Temple to become a kung fu master, evolving into the legendary monk San Te (Gordon Liu), who introduces Shaolin kung fu to oppressed Chinese."
David Chute, UCLA Film and Television Archive says, "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin is the most popular screen version of one of the key foundation myths of the kung fu subgenre: the story of the dissemination of the top-secret combat techniques developed at the Shaolin Temple to the populace at large."
From Wikipedia, "It is considered by many to be a seminal work in the genre, widely regarded as 'one of the greatest martial arts films of all time'."
The NY Times: "A frequent candidate for the finest martial arts movie ever made, ''The 36th Chamber of Shaolin'' has at last been rescued from the video bargain bins (where it has long languished under the title ''Shaolin Master Killer'') and given a first-class release by the Weinstein Company's new Asian action label, Dragon Dynasty.... The Dragon Dynasty transfer actually improves on the Hong Kong DVD release, with a brighter, sharper image and a heap of supplementary material. The extras include an interview with Gordon Liu (recently seen in two roles in the ''Kill Bill'' films) and a commentary track by the musician RZA of Wu-Tang Clan (a Shaolin scholar of some standing) and the Los Angeles film critic Andy Klein."