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Ryan Coogler

Enter the '36th Chamber' with Wu-Tang's RZA in Miami

Enter the '36th Chamber' with Wu-Tang's RZA in Miami

Robert Diggs was an impressionable 12-year-old growing up in the racial dissonance of Staten Island in the late 1970s — mother on welfare, father gone, stepfather in jail, role models elusive, reminders of his powerlessness plentiful — when he first saw the kung-fu classic “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin.”

A fast-paced 1978 film filled with gravity-defying action, Buddhist philosophy, politics and comedic goofiness, the plot followed San Te, the leader of a group of students rebelling against the oppressive Manchu government, and his martial-arts training at the Shaolin Temple.

In San Te’s journey from novice to disciplined and spiritually enlightened warrior, young Diggs saw a...

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