Disc 2 of the Arrow Video Shawscope Blu ray box set is the classic period action film The Boxer From Shantung starring Chen Kuan Tai and directed by Chang Cheh.
Ma Yung Chen (Chen Kuan Tai) leaves his rural home to seek his fortune in the big city of Shanghai but is drawn into the criminal underworld after befriending a gang boss. Because of his supreme fighting ability, Ma begins his own rise through the ranks, but danger lies in wait in the shape of the Four Champions gang.
Made in 1972 this was the 2nd film starring Chen Kuan Tai (even though the credits say “introducing” he did star in an independent film called Bloody Fists before joining Shaw Brothers). He gives an excellent performance as the good guy who is quick to step in and defend the weak and beat up the corrupt. But his rise to fame brings its own problems, and the final showdown with the rival gang has tragic consequences.
The action scenes are long and choreographed in an older, rougher style, which some fans of the newer movies may find disappointing. The fights are also very gory, with a large amount of the Shaw Brothers fake-looking blood used to good effect. One of the main villains played by Ku Feng chews the scenery and David Chiang gives a cameo appearance as another gang boss who Ma befriends.
The transfer from another 2K remaster is excellent, clean and bright, this looks the best it ever has and close-ups especially shine. Audio gives you a choice of original Mandarin with English subtitles or classic English dubbed track.
Again we get some good extras –
- Interview with star Chen Kuan-tai, filmed in 2007 by Frédéric Ambroisine
- Interview with assistant director John Woo, filmed in 2004 by Frédéric Ambroisine
- Interview with star David Chiang, filmed in 2003 by Frédéric Ambroisine
- Conversation between stars Chen Kuan-tai and Ku Feng, filmed at a Shaw Brothers reunion in 2007 by Frédéric Ambroisine
- Hong Kong and German theatrical trailers, plus US TV spot
- Image gallery
A satisfying if dated Hong Kong action film, but fans will be amazed at the quality of the remastered image.
FILM – 6.5 PICTURE – 9 AUDIO -7 EXTRAS – 7.5