The Chinese Boxer Review
Director: Jimmy Wang Yu
Starring: Jimmy Wang Yu, Lo Lieh, Chao Hsiung, Wang Ping
Hoodlum with Japanese martial arts training, Diao (Chao) returns to the town where he was expelled looking for revenge. At the top of his list is a martial arts school where Ming (Wang) is a senior student. Having been repelled, Diao promises to return with Japanese karate masters. Wih hired hands in tow, led by Kitajima (Lo Lieh), the Japanese fighters decimate the school, killing the master and nearly all the students. Having survived the massacre, Ming is assisted by Xiao Jing (Wang Ping) the master’s daughter. Taking his master’s words about how to defeat karate to heart, Ming begins a training regimen that puts his body through numerous rigors with the intention of freeing his town from the devilish Karate fighters who have terrorized the people.
Wang Yu stars, directs, and earns a screenplay credit in this Shaw Bros. effort from 1970. Following a fairly standard anti-Japanese storyline, Wang Yu’s Ming is a surprisingly timid protagonist. With fairly low aura, the first half of the film is dominated by the drastically more memorable villains; especially Lo Lieh whose kiai and karate consists of some massively entertaining freakouts at the beginning of fights. The martial arts is generally pretty forgettable despite the good camerawork. I’ve never really felt that Wang yu was a particularly great onscreen fighter, and his awkward spinning back kicks are on full display here. He does earn some badass points for a very entertaining vigilante series where he dons a mask and goes about his revenge in a short montage sequence followed by a heavily jidai-geki influenced sequence featuring Japanese swordsmen in tall grass while snow falls. It’s a totally different level in this sequence, even more so than the finale fight which is a bit disappointing despite the satisfying deaths our villains receive.
Ultimately a fairly forgettable kung fu film, the saving grace is the aforementioned vigilante sequence which is a notch above anything else in the film. With average performances and an even more common plot than you’d believe, The Chinese Boxer is hardly must-see material but there is enough in it to keep you entertained if you must watch every martial arts Shaw Bros. film.