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King Boxer: Fingers of Death

4.4 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A student of kung fu meets resistance on his way to a major Chinese tournament.

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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

None.

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 (44 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000MM0LE6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,847 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "King Boxer: Fingers of Death" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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4 Stars. This a great Shaw Brother movie with lots of hand-to-hand fighting and a major influence of Tarantino’s Kill Bill series, which uses the fight music (originally taken from the US TV show Ironside) and the glowing hands to show the leads powering up. The complicated plot is full of twists and turns. It’s about two clans, who are preparing for a tournament. One clan is evil and will stop at nothing to destroy the other, before the tournament even starts. Young man, whose master is loses a fight, sends him to learn from the good clan’s master, who eventually gives him the ultimate fighting technique. This makes a top member of that clan jealous, and he has the other clan cripple his hands, making it even harder for him to succeed in the final battle. Also in the loop are some Japanese thugs out to stop the good clan and a love interest. This movie has great fighting down to the last showdown between the lead, using only fists, and a samurai and his sword. It is gruesome at times, like the when people get their eyes popped out. Released in the US by Warner Bros in 1973, it started the US martial arts craze but was overshadowed later that year by Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon, for good reason. King Boxer is definitely a great martials movie and worth the watch.
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Even if you are not a huge fan of martial arts films, this is a must-see. I remember watching it as a kid when they used to broadcast "Kung-Fu Theatre" on public access late-night on Fridays. With Lo Lieh, you can be guaranteed a stellar performance. The choreography in this classic is second to none. As with so many films of it's kind and era, it is overlooked - being considered cheesy and laughable. Quite the opposite. A very serious film, even with the terrible voice-overs. In the better Shaw bros. earlier films, like this one, 5 Deadly Venoms, The Duel, 36th Chamber of Shaolin, etc., there are lots of messages of morality and metaphorical attributes. Don't write these off before watching them.
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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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