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ís (1972)
Boxer from Shantung

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 10/26/2018
Summary: Heavy is the head that wears the crown...

The story is one you’ve most likely seen before, country bumpkin comes to the big city and dreams of making it big after seeing the local gangsters living life high on the hog. In this version, Ma Yung Chen (Chen Kuan-Tai) uses his fighting skills to start advancing up the ranks in early-30s Shanghai and take over a small bit of turf between two warring gangs led by Boss Yang (Chiang Nan) and Boss Tan Si (David Chiang). Eventually, Ma decides to take on Boss Yang and vie for control of the whole territory, even if it means taking his gang on single handedly.
Boxer from Shantung is a classic Chang Cheh story, with lots of fighting and extra amounts of crimson blood splattering heros wearing white. The battles are mediocre for the first three quarters of the film, with Chen doing his best to make each fight exciting.even though it for the most part is basher choreography. The finale is spectacular though, with the hero using every weapon and broken pieces of furniture to destroy each member of the rival gang. The sheer ferocity in which Kuan-Tai dismantles the restaurant and people within is made more effective by the constant splintering wood and bones and by the end the entire set looks to be covered in a layer of blood. If you’re looking for a bloody finale, look no further.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Harlock
Date: 09/13/2007
Summary: Actions, Action Not Words

Chen Kuan-Tai is the star of this movie, enough said...

you only need to know:

Chen Kuan-Tai -> Actions pack -> entertaining guaranteed.

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 04/29/2006
Summary: A cautionary gangster tale

I’ve always thought there was something inherently evil about people who pretend to sell peanuts from a basket, and this film proves me right yet again. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

The Boxer from Shantung is another example of the lavish Shaw Brothers productions of the era. It looks bloody magnificent. Fantastic sets, great locations, the lot. It would be decades before Hong Kong could match this sort of production value again.

The film itself starts shakily. There’s lots of stilted dialogue and uncomfortable silence between speeches for some bizarre reason. The love interest sub-plot seems bolted on, as I don’t recall the two characters so much as talking to each other before the romance goes pear-shaped. The fights are also a bit on the dull side to start with. In fact, the only noteworthy event early on is the appearance of a very young Fong Haak-On as a henchman.

The plot revolves around a young man named Ma Yung Cheng (Chen Kuan-tai) in a rags-to-riches story. He comes between a pair of warring gang factions known as the Tang and the Yang clans – the former headed by the superb and woefully underused David Chiang. The eventual transformation of Ma Yung Cheng from a down and out street urchin to a gang boss is not wholly believable, but if we suspend our disbelief for long enough, there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had in the latter half of this film. The fights start to get a lot more inventive around the 45-minute mark, and it’s there that this film truly picks up. And as it’s a Chang Cheh film from the early 70’s, you just know it’s all going to end in tears…

David Chiang has to get a special mention for his role in this film. SPOILER!
In his final scene, ambushed by the villainous Yang gang, he gets betrayed by one of his own henchmen and receives a sword through the stomach for his troubles. We’ve all seen films where the hero receives a mortal blow, gets up to finish the bad guys off without too much trouble (cringing in pain occasionally in between bouts of action to show us he’s in terrible pain) only to succumb at the end. Hell, it even happens later in this film! But not with David Chiang. Damned if he’ll show his injuries to his rival, he plays a man in serious pain, pretending to be perfectly healthy while finishing off his foes – and he pulls it off incredibly. Job done, he sits back in his carriage, covers his stomach wound with his jacket, covers the blood on his jacket with his hand, and quietly dies with dignity. Fantastic piece of cinema all round. END SPOILER!

It’s odd that the action choreography in this film is so indifferent at the start of the film and so good at the end. For whatever reason, the film kicks up so many notches as it goes that it ends in fantastic, blood-drenched, style.

We even get a brief end piece over the final credits showing Ma Yung Cheng’s loyal servant boarding a train to escape the gang life to become a farmer – highly unusual for a movie from this era.

Marking this movie is difficult, as I’d probably give it 7 and-a-half due to the clumsy first three quarters of an hour of this two hour film, but I’m feeling generous today.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: weirdcat
Date: 02/14/2006
Summary: Brilliant!

This was one of those classic movies I had only read about.
When it finally came out on dvd i had to have it.
I was not disappointed.
Chen Kuan Tai plays Ma Yung-Cheng who works a labourer with his best friend and sleeps at a hostel for poor workers.
He is also good at kung fu which gets him involved with alot of unsavoury characters along the way. He gains respect after defeating a Russian fighter and wishes to be like Tan Wei (played by David Chiang), a gang boss who like Ma started with nothing and now is one of the top bosses in town.
Ma's and Tan's involvement with the "Four Champions" leads Ma to a bloody and brutal final confrontation with the "Four Champions", their Boss and ALL their henchmen.
What follows is a protracted battle with knives, axes, feet, fists and furniture as Ma battles for his life and to get revenge for the death of his friend Tan.
Don't expect a happy ending.
The choreography was very good and different to Shaws later MA style.
It seemed to have a grittier style and the ferocity of Chen Kuan Tai in action is a sight to behold.


Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 12/25/2004
Summary: REmade a thousand times!!

Yes HERO (not the jet li one) is the latest version of this film. With this film i didn;t like it much, there was just a lot of fighting, not much character development, David Chaing is hardly there, the love interest is barely in the show and so on and on.

For myself the latest version is much better. This is just endless fighting with lots of blood


Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/19/2004
Summary: 3.5/5

***1/2 BOXER FROM SHANTUNG: I previously only knew this film from the 1997 Cory Yuen remake, which it turns out is really very different. Although the direction in BFS is much better, I thought that the story, production values and some of the action in HERO were better. However, BFS has Chen Kuan Tai ("Introducing Chen Kuan Tai" no less - I thought he'd been around for longer than that), and he is infinitely cooler than Takeshi Kaneshiro. Generally a good film, with a great, long and very bloody final fight.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 02/12/2000
Summary: Grim, gory and excessively violent

Chen Kuan Tai could not have wished for a better start to his film career. Shaw Brothers placed him into this introductory star vehicle with a big budget, and a storyline which focuses on him almost solely. His character's name is spoken more often than all the others combined. He appears in nearly every scene and nearly every frame. There are several fight scenes where he, alone, is pitted against many.
So, what of the result ? Well, it's a bit too long, and it's hard to like any of the characters. It's clearly based on films such as The Godfather, with the story of poor but tough young man using the criminal world to improve his fortune. The story starts quite slowly but, as the fight scenes pack in, warms up.
The climactic fight is one of the longest I've ever seen and, even for a HK film, has a ludicrous lack of credibility. The hero is attacked with an axe, which stays stuck in his gut for at least five minutes, while he continues to polish off opponents.
I really cannot recommend this film. Now, if even one of the characters had a sympathetic side .......

Reviewer Score: 3