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King Boxer: Fingers of Death

40 customer reviews

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(Jun 19, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Lo Lieh, Wang Ping. Hong Kong's legendary Shaw Brothers bring you this revolutionary cult movie packed with scintillating action and fight scenes. A young martial arts fighter battles all odds to get to a national tournament and become a master of the Iron Fist. King Boxer explores the depths of kung fu lore and is a must see" for all martial arts fans. 1971/color/98 min/R/widescreen.

Better known in the United States as Five Fingers of Death, this spectacular mix of martial arts action and Western-style melodrama from the legendary Shaw Brothers Studios helped to light the fuse for the kung fu movie explosion in the early '70s. Indonesian actor Lo Lieh is the young acolyte caught up in a struggle between rival martial arts schools; after one villainous outfit murders several of Lieh's classmates with the help of hired killers, he trains to develop the invincible "Iron Palm" technique and defeat the opposing school. Korean director Chang-hwa Jeong delivers stunning (and very violent) action set pieces (set to a dizzying array of American library music cues, most notably Quincy Jones' theme to Ironside) but also manages to create a compelling and dramatic sub-story about loyalty and honor. The result is a martial arts film that can be enjoyed by viewers who aren't fanatical about the genre and diehard kung fu heads alike. The widescreen DVD (which surpasses all previous VHS and DVD versions of the film) includes an interesting commentary track by Quentin Tarantino (who aided Dragon Dynasty in assembling its Shaw Brothers library) and critics Elvis Mitchell and David Chute, who discuss King Boxer's appeal and thematic similarities to Hollywood product; Chute is also featured with critic Andy Klein in one of three short supplements about the film's production and history, with director Jeong and martial arts choreographer Liu Chia-Liang taking center stage for the others. - Paul Gaita

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Lo Lieh, Tien Feng
  • Directors: Cheng Chang Ho
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Chinese, English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Weinstein Company
  • DVD Release Date: June 19, 2007
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000MM0LE6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,467 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "King Boxer: Fingers of Death" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Cubist on June 19, 2007
Format: DVD
King Boxer (aka Five Fingers of Death) came out in 1973 and is a classic example of a Shaw Brothers kung fu film - a genre they helped pioneer and perfect with this movie being one of the finest efforts from this time period. It also has the distinction of being the first kung fu film to be released in the United States, just ahead of Bruce Lee's equally influential Enter the Dragon. In the 1980s, it inspired filmmaker John Carpenter to make Big Trouble in Little China and more recently was a huge influence on Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill movies.

The filmmakers maintain just the right level of pacing with very short lulls between action sequences. Let's face it - we're not watching King Boxer for its thoughtful characterization. That is not to say that this film is not well made or doesn't take itself seriously because it does, but it is hardly Shakespeare either. Director Cheng Chang Ho employs sudden zoom in and outs and even the occasional freeze frame during many of the film's dynamic fight scenes. This is a beautifully shot movie with expert use of the 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio with superb compositions of every frame. The use of shadows for dramatic effect in one scene, and a brief fight that takes place at sunset that looks like something right out of 1950s Technicolor era, is part of the reason why this film is so revered among kung fu film fans.

King Boxer features betrayal, torture, revenge and even some heroic style redemption thrown in for good measure - all heightened to melodramatic levels making for a very entertaining ride. Our hero has to deal with a devastating injury and his own self-doubts before he can face the bad guys and use the Iron Palm technique to save the day.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mantis on December 24, 2007
Format: DVD
The first martial arts film released in America (under the title, "5 Fingers of Death" in about 1972) should not be missed by kung fu fans, and not just as "the film that started it all". I think the choreography in this movie (while heavily over-edited) is better than most of the movies that followed: At least 'til the Venoms, Lau Kar Leung, and Sammo Hung came into their prime. Body slams and blood and general nastiness are all here. Along with good, old-fashioned, grain-fed, prime-cut revenge.

Around the same time as "King Boxer", Bruce Lee's "Chinese Connection" and "Enter the Dragon" had fast and precise fight scenes. After his death, Hong Kong cinema churned out countless pieces of crap, trying to cash in, obviously choreographed by Zatoichi & Stevie Wonder, and produced in some guy's Dad's garage for $20 (U.S.) and a pack of smokes. Yet they were so popular that the level and speed of the fight scenes really didn't need to change. If you don't believe how much slower fights in movies got, watch "King Boxer", and then put in Chan's "Drunken Master". The fights in this are WAY faster, and this was made 6-7 years prior. I don't know if they're quite as creative or fluid but they're far more entertaining (IMO).

I'll try and keep the synopsis lean. Lo Lieh is a student chosen to represent his school in a tournament and is plagued by human obstacles, both in house, and from a rival school. The rival school is populated by some really mean jerks. And when they're not mean enough, they import some even meaner jerks from Japan.

After years of cheap prints, Dragon Dynasty (God bless them) has given us a beautifully remastered, English-dubbed (if you so choose), widescreen DVD, packed with special features.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Wilson VINE VOICE on September 4, 2007
Format: DVD
Seeing this for the first time you may knock it for being fairly paint by numbers(train/tragedy/train harder/revenge/redemption)... problem is that this is one of the original paintings that the formula is based off! King Boxer is classic kung-fu action in the finest sense of the word. Lo Lieh as our heroic lead is great and shows flashes of Bruce Lee type charisma(but not nearly his furious fighting) and will have you rooting for him through every uphill battle he's in. Lots of cool characters and action scenes, including the 3 Japanese masters brought in to derail our hero(and bust his hands up real good!). The movie just oozes style and grittiness that in this new age of martial arts film we may never see again(Kill Bill excluded, although Tarantino really should be paying royalties to everyone involved here)... so sit back and enjoy it like the fine wine it truly is!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JustSaying on September 23, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a classic hand combat choreographed 70's martial arts movie. I see why Dragon Dynasty re-mastered it. The fight scenes are outstanding and the movie's pace is good. Solid story and good action acting. Just a good martial arts movie.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Savary on January 27, 2002
Format: DVD
This film is both a bit different, and nothing new.
The first ten minutes consist of shots in and around some sort of Thai festival with elephants. There's a glaring lack of dialog, which makes the opening of the film tedious. But, as soon as the visiting King Boxer meets up with his lovely young cousin (?), things begin to pick up.
They tour the city, and then King Boxer asks to see some Thai Boxing. She takes him to see a friend of her's, a pro kickboxer as he prepares for a match. Bad guys try to get the upright young boxer to throw the match, but he refuses. Naturally, this leads to a fight after the match, in which King Boxer lends a hand. Becoming fast friends, the two martial artists train together, and King Boxer teaches the kickboxer his special kung fu techniques.
Meanwhile, back in China, a bad Japanese businessman who is an expert in Karate and Judo, hears all about the famous King Boxer and decides to test him. He and his men beat up King Boxer's students and insult the Gym. When King Boxer returns, butt is soon kicked. But the bad guy is sneaky, and uses King Boxer's honorable beliefs against him. In the end, the kickboxer helps take revenge with his friend's special kung fu strikes.
There's a great fight between King Boxer and his foe's minions in the bad guy's lair. The last fight was also different, showcasing Kickboxing vs. Karate. In most kung fu movies, you never see someone in a non-Chinese or Western-looking boxing stance, and it was interesting to see the two styles pitted against each other.
It looks like most of the Thailand stuff was all shot on location, which does not mesh very well with the more traditional kung fu movie setting back in China, all shot on sets.
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