This Months Screening

Sunday, 23 February 2014

King Boxer

king boxer film poster with alternative american title five fingers of death

King Boxer is seen by many film reviewers as the first feature to establish America’s craze with all things martial arts related. 


King Boxer mightn't be the first film that springs to mind with the above statement, considering it came out the same year as the towering Bruce Lee classic ‘Enter the Dragon’, but after watching the film (also amusingly known as ‘The Five Fingers of Death’), it’s not difficult to see why the film caused a massive sensation on its initial release…

Chi-Hao (Lo Lieh) wishes to marry his childhood sweetheart Yin-Yin. After his master is attacked by a gang of hoodlums, it is decided that Chi-Hao must travel to a more advanced martial arts school to learn the Iron Palm fighting technique in order to win a tournament and, more importantly, win the hand of Yin-Yin. Standing in Chi-Hao’s way is local martial arts tyrant, Ming Dung-Shun and his gang of thugs…

King Boxer plays to all the usual tropes of the Kung Fu genre with courage, honour and betrayal, as well as some inconsequential romance, being the order of the day. The film has a quite layered story for a very compact ninety plus minute feature, but where King Boxer stands out as a true grindhouse classic is through its action sequences. King Boxer has its fair share of great Kung Fu fights, but tips over into splatter territory on occasion, with heads either being split open or eyes being gouged out. It’s never quite as viscerally over the top as something like Shogun Assassin, but there is plenty of fun to be had along the way, including obligatory camera crash zooms, as well as a cool soundtrack (which lifts entire musical cues directly from both James Bond and the television series ‘Ironside’).

King Boxer is a film which set a benchmark for the cycle of martial arts films to come and even if it seems overly familiar, it’s still highly entertaining stuff, even if you aren’t a big fan of Kung Fu.

Starring: Lo Lieh, Tin Fung, Gam Hei Chu, Ping Wang, Chin-Feng Wang
Director: Chang-Hwa Jeong
Screenplay by: Yang Chiang
Date released: U.S.A. 21 March 1973
Genre: Martial Arts
Duration: 104 min
Official URL: N/A
Reviewed by: Conor Flynn

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