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King boxer (Five Fingers of Death) 
Written by: on June 21st, 2007

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1972
Director: Chang-Hwa Jeong
Writer: Chiang Yang
Cast: Lieh Lo, Ping Wang, Hsiung Chiao, Chin-Feng Wang, Lin Tung, Feng Tien, James Nam, Bolo Yeung

DVD released: June 19th, 2007
Approximate running time: 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital mono Mandarin, Dolby Digital mono English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
DVD Release: Dragon Dynasty
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95

Synopsis: Chao Chi-Hao’s (Lieh Lo) master sends him to a rival master’s marital arts school to enhance his fighting techniques. In the same town is another marital arts school that is lead by a diabolical master who will do anything to achieve the upper hand in victory including murder. When word gets out that Chao Chi-Hao’s master has taught him “The Iron Fist” technique the rival master arts school not wanting any completion at that upcoming tournament break his hands during an ambush. Will Chao Chi-Hao give up martial arts or will he continue to train and rehabilitate his broken hands until he comes back more deadly then ever?

When one first gets into martial arts films one of the most obvious starting points besides the films of Bruce Lee are films like The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and King Boxer released in the U.S. under the title of Five Fingers of Death. One other distinction that King Boxer has over all marital arts films is that is was one of the first released in the U.S. and at the time it became the first marital arts hit followed by the supernova known as Bruce Lee. King Boxer was directed by Chang-hwa Jeong who use of lenses, angles and techniques to enhance tights sequences would later serve as the blue print for many of the martial arts films that followed in its wake. Looking over Chang-hwa Jeong’s career as a filmmaker nothing stands out like his master piece of marital arts cinema King Boxer.

The story is well constructed with just the right amount of peaks and valleys. The films hero Chao Chi-Hao is far from heroic when we first meet him and as the film progresses so does his fighting skills. His main rival afraid of Chao Chi-Hao’s knowledge of the “Iron Fist” technique nearly cripples him and this then sets forth the strongest part of the film as we see a much stronger Chao Chi-Hao who is more driven then ever. This film features a few training sequences with the best one being Chao Chi-Hao re-teaching himself and building up his endurance and skill after his injury. The fighting sequences through out the film are all first rate and without any flaws. These action sequences are so good you could watch them over and over again and still be amazed.

The star of the show the “Iron Fist” technique which is employed by Chao Chi-Hao who is played by Lieh Lo who excels during the fighting sequences while he is merely adequate during the more dramatic moments. Despite his lack of charisma he does a solid job carrying the film. The rest of the cast all do good jobs with their various roles. Also watch out for Bolo Yeung who appears briefly as the Mongolian Fighter. The films score is an eclectic mix of music cues lifted from several other films/T.V. Shows most notably the theme from “Ironside” which plays every time Chao Chi-Hao is about to the “Iron Fist” fighting technique. This one has it all drama, romance, revenge and a lot of high flying action. Ultimately King Boxer is one of the most entertaining martial arts films to ever grace the silver screen.

The DVD:

King Boxer is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. This progressive flagged transfer looks colorful and detailed throughout.

This release comes with two audio options Mandarin and English. Both audio options are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The audio sounds clear and it is free of any audio defects. Removable English and Spanish subtitles have been included.

Extras for this release include a photo gallery with fifty three stills, trailers for other films featuring Lau Kar-Wing, trailers for Shaw Brothers and Dragon Dynasty films, U.S. theatrical trailer, home video trailer and alternate opening credits. Other extras include interviews with director Chang-Hwa Jeong (5 Minutes), action director Lau Kar-Wing (20 minutes) and Film scholars David Chute and Andy Klein (7 Minutes). The main extra included with this releases is an audio commentary with Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino and Film scholars David Chute and Elvis Mitchell. King Boxer is a film that deserves all the accolades that it has received through the years. Having never seen King Boxer I can only stress how much my first time viewing this film was enhanced simply because of Dragon Dynasty’s superb audio/video presentation and the wealth of extras give this release even more weight, highly recommended!

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