A young student named Liu Yude, later known as San Te (Gordon Liu), is drawn by his activist teacher into the local rebellion against the Manchu government. The government officials suppress the uprising and liquidate the school, killing friends and family members as well. San Te then decides to seek vengeance. Wounded in an attack by Manchu henchmen, he flees to the Shaolin temple and seeks training in kung fu. Initially the Buddhist monks reject him, since he is an outsider, but the chief abbot takes mercy on the young man and lets him stay.
One year later, he begins his martial arts training in the temple’s 35 chambers and advances more rapidly than any previous student. Along the way, he is depicted as inventing the three section staff.
However, as San Te nears the end of his education, the temple officially exiles him in a surreptitious way to allow him to aid the people against the oppressors. He returns to the outside world, namely to his hometown, and assists the people by teaching them martial arts.
Before the political revolution he is inspiring to complete, he is forced into conflict with the Manchu governor. Finally, he triumphs and returns to the Shaolin temple, where he establishes the 36th chamber, a special martial arts class for laypeople to learn kung fu.
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