ARROW VIDEO SHAW SCOPE BOX SET: King Boxer (1972)

Known in China as Tiān xià dì yī quán (Number One Fist in the World), this movie was released in the U.S. by Warner Brothers as Five Fingers of Death. The studio had seen a big success with their TV series Kung Fu and saw an opportunity. What followed was a kung fu craze that saw thirty movies re-released in the U.S. just in 1973. And FIve Fingers of Death paved the way for the movie and star that knocked the doors down: Enter the Dragon and Bruce Lee.

Quentin Tarantino listed King Boxer among his ten greatest films of all time and it’s easy to see why: forget the dubbing and just let yourself slip into some of the greatest fights ever committed to film. Just listen for the anger siren, taken from Quincy Jones’ soundtrack to Ironsides. It shows up in Kill Bill, which is Tarantino’s love letter to films like this one.

Chi-Hao (Lo Lieh, one of the biggest stars in martial arts film) has been studying for his entire life for the same master, longing for that man’s daughter Yin-Yin (Wang Ping). Yet after a group of thugs nearly kills that master, he tells Chi-Hao that he must take his training elsewhere to the superior skills of Shen Chin-Pei (Fang Mian). If he learns the skills that it takes to defeat the evil Meng Dung-Shun (Tien Feng) in an upcoming tournament, the teacher will consent to his daughter marrying the young man.

As he studies with Suen Chin-Pei, Chi-Hao must enduring the brutal attacks of the teacher’s best apprentice, Han Lung. As his skills improve, one of Dung-Shun’s men attacks the school and beats nearly every student, then uses a dishonorable attack to defeat the teacher. Chi-Hao tracks down this man and defeats him, earning the right to be given the most deadly secret of the school, the Iron Fist.

Han Lung takes this about as well as you’d expect, joining with Dung-Shun to break Chi-Hao’s hands and kill their teacher. Yen Chu Hung, a singer that Chi-Hao had rescued and who is in love with him, attempts to heal his body and soul. As he grows in power again, his fellow students find him and aid him in finding his warrior spirit.

Can he defeat the Dung-Shun’s son in the tournament? Will Han Lung ever stop trying to destroy him? And will he use his Iron First power to literally make his hands glow and send people through walls? You know the answers, but this movie makes finding out beyond enjoyable. Let’s take it further — all movies should be this good.

The Arrow Video Shaw Scope Volume One box set has a brand new 2K restoration of King Boxer from a 4K scan of the original negative by Arrow Films. There’s newly restored uncompress Mandarin and English original mono audio, as well as newly translated English subtitles for the Mandarin audio, plus English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dub.

This disk is packed with so much for the martial arts film lover, like brand new commentary by David Desser, co-editor of The Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema and The Cinema of Hong Kong; a newly filmed appreciation by film critic and historian Tony Rayns; a 2003 and 2004 interview with director Chung Chang-wha, a 2007 interview with star Wang Ping; a 2005 interview with Korean cinema expert Cho Young-jung, author of Chung Chang-wha: Man of Action; alternate opening credits from the American version titled Five Fingers of Death; trailers from Hong KOng, Germany and the U.S.; U.S. TV and radio ads; and an image gallery.

Plus, there’s also Cinema Hong Kong: Kung Fu, the first in a three-part documentary on Shaw Brothers’ place within the martial arts genre produced by Celestial Pictures in 2003, featuring interviews with Jackie Chan, Jet Li, John Woo, Sammo Hung, Gordon Liu, Lau Kar-leung, Cheng Pei-pei, David Chiang and many others.

You can get this set from MVD.

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