Shaolin Grandma (2008)
By: J.R. McNamara on February 21, 2012  | 
WellGo (USA) | Region 1, NTSC | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | Japanese DD 5.1 | 75 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Kotaro Terauchi
Starring: Chiyoko Asami, Nao Nagasawa, Kazuyuki Senba
Screenplay: Kotaro Terauchi
Country: Japan
External Links
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Now and again as a fan of freaky films you are given the opportunity to see something so amazingly off-the-wall that not only do you enjoy it, but it completely reinvigorates your entire interest in obscure and oddball cinema.

Whilst sitting down on one sunny afternoon for the three 'B's (that's Beer, BBQ and Bad movies) I was presented with this DVD by the host, as the second feature of the day's proceedings. Upon first glance of the cover I admit I was concerned as to what was about to play. The DVD cover was emblazoned with the masthead "Shaolin Grandma" and had a bad photo-shopped image of an almost disturbingly stoic octogenarian kung-fu mistress with a croquet mallet strapped to her back like a sheathed katana and firing croquet balls from her wizened talons. My 'What-the-Hell'-o-meter redlined and I almost suffered aneurysm. Though that could have just been the beer.

Shaolin Grandma aka Shorin Babaa was directed by The Scissors Massacre's Kotaro Terauchi which he co-wrote with someone named Carolco, who also wrote Boys of Love.

Shaolin Grandma starts with a postman delivering a registered letter to an older lady, Miyoko (played by TV comedienne Chiyoko Asami), and upon inspection of her house, he discovers her dead on the lounge room floor. He does the right thing, of course, and calls the police to notify them of her demise, and they ask him to wait with the body until they arrive.

He sits for a moment and discovers a scroll, which appears to be her Last Will and Testament, but ends up being part one of a series of tales recounting the details of her life, and so, like any bumbling mailman would, he starts reading her life story, and disturbing the potential crime scene in the process.

We find out that she was once the big kahuna at a Shaolin Temple hidden deep in the forest and was adept at not only training her students, whom mainly seem to be weirdos and miscreants, but also defending the temple from those who sought to take over.

One fateful day though, she loses a battle to the extraordinarily beautiful Ippon-aishi (Nao Nagasawa) who kicks her arse, and kicks her out, along with the only two students who support her, a stereotypical chubby bumbler and what could only be described as the Asian Michael Berryman.

The three make their way to the big city, depressed by their plight, and wondering how three unskilled, other than in martial arts, people will be able to eat. Eventually they discover a group of gentlemen performing some street theatre to advertise their circus, and taking inspiration from that, they start performing feats of Shaolin Dancing.

That is not a typo: Shaolin Dancing. Which basically consists of Shaolin Grandma shaking her hips and grabbing her boobs while her cohorts chant and punch the air. As you would expect, talent like theirs doesn't go unnoticed and they are asked to work in a club by its owner where they become a great hit, until the woman who booted her out of the temple turns up, and humiliates her, and she is forced to live on the street.

So, her two sidekicks get jobs soliciting a titty bar, and she takes up residence in a cardboard box by a croquet pitch where, more importantly, she meets the man who will become the love of her life, and to whom she will dust off her ancient fanny and lose her virginity, after he teaches her how to play croquet and beat the local bitch with her new Shaolin croquet skills. With her Shaolin confidence back she returns to the temple to reclaim her place as top dog, but will she achieve it? And what of her new love in the big city? Most importantly, how did she end up dead on the floor of a house in the suburbs???

I will say one thing about the film, and hopefully without giving too much away: Saw fans will get a real kick out of the ending, which comes so far out of left field, it may have come from another field altogether!!!

Obviously an inspired parody of Shaolin Girl, Shaolin Grandma is nothing short of bizarre. The woman who plays the mute lead character is almost completely void of emotion and thankfully only smiles a few times as her teeth look like a mouthful of badly organized brown Tic-tacs. She barely moves, and her fights scenes are quite clearly performed by an actual expert in martial arts or gymnastics.

One thing that perplexed me about this film is the title: Shaolin Grandma. Seeing as how the woman had never done the nude and nasty, how could she be a 'Grandma'? My suggestion would be that the word from the original title 'Babaa' perhaps is a reference to an old lady (such as in Baba Yaga) rather than an actual Grandma, especially seeing as how Ippon-aishi uses that word as an insult on several occasions, and it is translated as 'hag' in the subtitles.

As you can tell by the plot I have recounted above, the story is borderline retarded, and when executed with bad, almost no, acting and terrible effects (to call the 'special' effects would be an insult) it all makes up for… well, quite an entertaining experience.

Here lies my quandary with reviewing this film: as an experience, I understand that the worst a film can do is not entertain, and even though I have hung this film out to dry for its substandard production values, dammit, it entertained me!! Would I have been happy if I had paid whatever a cinema price is to see this? Would have I been happy to have bought it from a $2 DVD discount bin? No. Seeing it at a mate's place for free though definitely made it a good spend.
Shaolin Grandma has a nice quality picture and is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Interestingly, the DVD case says that the film is presented in Dolby Stereo 5.1, which is odd. To my ear it was in Dolby Digital 5.1. The original Japanese soundtrack is subtitled in English throughout.
Extra Features
Just a trailer, I am afraid.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
I guess the best way to describe this film would be dumb and entertaining. You will get a laugh out of it, and that laugh is deliberate by the writers, but at no point do the production values hit the lofty heights of, say, Sharktopus! I would suggest B movie fans should watch it but there is that quality warning attached. Basically, the film runs for about 70 odd minutes, and really, we've all watched worse.

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