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s갫 (1970)
The Chinese Boxer


Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 05/20/2006

I’m not the biggest Jimmy Wang-Yu fan in the world. When watching his films, I tend to lose concentration and my mind goes off on weird tangents like, “Is Jimmy Wang-Yu the man with the smallest mouth in the world ever?” and suchlike.

But credit where credit’s due, Chinese Boxer is not a bad film. In fact, I’d begrudgingly call it a “good” film. Not great, but good. Certainly, the lead man appears more like a human being than a walking plank, and I find this helps a lot. This is also one of the first true “unarmed” films made in the era (this is not an attempt at a lousy pun, Jimmy Wang-Yu has both arms in this one), which paved the way for the style of combat we’ve seen ever since. Plus, as usual, the Shaw Brothers’ production values help keep things looking nice and professional.

As with some of the other Celestial Pictures’ remasters, the opening credits and some of the music have been redone. It’s quite obvious and anachronistic. I’m not sure what I think of this practice (I’m sure there was a good reason behind it), but I’m just pointing it out for information purposes.

More than just a museum piece, Chinese Boxer can still be enjoyed today - which is more than can be said about so many of Wang-Yu’s films.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 11/11/2004
Summary: 8/10 - dated, but a classic

THE CHINESE BOXER: Jimmy Wang Yu's directorial debut is generally reckoned to be the first real "kung fu" film (though not sure if this is ignoring the Wong Fei Hung films). It definitely set the standard for much of the 70's, and was a most notable influence on Bruce Lee's FIST OF FURY. The fight scenes do feature some fanciful wires in places, but for the most part focus on pretty brutal, realistic fighting styles. They're quite intense, especially thanks to the performances of Lo Lieh and Jimmy himself (finally having cleared up his constipation, it seems).The plot is a pretty straightforward "master dead, learn a new style, take revenge" affair - as would be the case for at least half the kung fu films that followed it :) At 85 minutes it could have done with being a bit longer, perhaps, but it's enough to get the job done. Unfortunately, Celestial have seen fit to "improve" the film by adding new sound effects and music to their DVD release, which are really badly done. It doesn't wreck the film, but makes it harder to appreciate. I'll probably replace the DVD with the VCD, which ought to have the original sound mix.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 10/24/2004
Summary: Pretty ordinary

I read somewhere this movie was a big hit as it was a change from the swordfighting movies to hand to hand combat.

Did they use a lot of red paint in this movie. It almost doesn't make sense but you can see similarities in Wang Yu movies, the characters and gimmicks all seemed to be used over and over

The idea to defeat karate by learning iron fist and light leaping doesnt make much sense, sure you can jump high and sure you can hit harder, but what about the skill?? He didn't learn that anywhere yet the power of his fists and leaping ability is enough to get him out of any trouble.

There is nothing new here, Wang Yu and Lo Lieh look young and unfortunately lo lieh plays a bad guy, a angry screaming one at that

6/10


Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 12/19/2002
Summary: What a boring movie

Today it would be hard to appreciate the first kung fu movie ever made. I suppose folks who saw this film when it first came out can enjoy it due to nostalgia, but someone who sees it for the first time in the year 2003 would have major problems enjoying the action scenes, and that's exactly why I don't like old movies. Overall not too bad, but the formula has been passed on to countless kung fu movies thereafter. So if you've seen later kung fu movies, there's nothing new in the Chinese Boxer. Lo Lieh's make-up is rather refreshing.

[6/10]


Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 04/07/2002
Summary: Amazing

This film was made 32 years ago, but it looks stunning. This is certainly no cheap chop-sockey. Wang Yu was red-hot at this time, and had a full power of Shaw Brothers behind him for this A-grade production. I was stunned by the quality of the cinematography. The quality of the colours, the gorgeous scenery, and the outstanding editing are a joy to behold. The look of the film, combined with Wang Yu's excellent direction, would put him up there with King Hu at his best.

The feel of the film certainly owes much to both King Hu and Akira Kurosawa. Hu for the look and, to a lesser extent, the action, and Kurosawa for the swordfighting, shot in proper samurai style.

There is also a brief scene where a pretty young woman appears topless while the villain rapes her. I get the impression that even topless scenes were pretty rare in 1970.

It would be hard to believe this film was made over 30 years ago, except that the actors all look so youthful. Lo Lieh looking fresh-faced. Chan Sing with side-car ears. Hao Li-Jen always looks old, but here he at least doesn't look ancient. And Jason Pai Piao, in a brief appearance, looks like a teenager.

According to several sources, this is the film which started the kung fu pictures boom, and it's easy to see why. Wang Yu leans heavily on the respect and honour and revenge formula which was made popular in Hong Kong (and other parts of Asia) by the Japanese samurai movies in the 1960s.

The characterizations of the Chinese and Japanese characters in the film deserves comment. The Chinese students are mostly a pretty stoic lot, not resorting to extreme emotion even when their fellows are being harassed or killed. The Japanese karate experts behave like screaming wild beasts, rather like the screeches which Bruce Lee was to make part of his style. I find it difficult to believe that any group of Japanese would behave in such an outrageous manner.

This leads to what I found the most unexpected let-down. The quality of the fight scenes is pretty ordinary. To be kind, if this was the film that started it all, they may not have worked out the formula properly yet. But even the climactic fight, which usually can be relied on for a at least a few thrills, is average at best.

However, don't let it stop you watching Chinese Boxer. See just how good a fu film can look.

Reviewer Score: 8