In short, Ma Yung Cheng leaves behind the poverty of Shantung for the corrupt city of Shanghai, a place where he becomes the first Chinese fighter to defeat a professional Russian wrestler (Mario Milano, who was born in Italy, started wrestling in Venezuela and became a star in Australia), only to find that the fame that he achieves is more dangerous than he ever imagined.
This film is a marvel of the Shaw Brothers production team, as while most of their movies had two months to shoot, this only had one, meaning that director Cheh Chang was only able to direct during the night while uncredited director Hsueh-Li Pao directed during the day. They needed all the time they could get, as the battle with the Russian took six days and the hatchet mob fight took ten.
Ma Yung Cheng and the gangster he befriends, Tan Si, are two men who have ideals in a world that has none. Having that mindset is their hubris; even when Ma Yung Cheng becomes a gangster, he refuses to allow his men to take money from the poor for protection and also honors the territory of Tan Si. Their enemies will not allow them the same courtesy.
Imagine if Scarface had stabbings and punches in the face instead of all that cocaine and you’ll have a bit of an inkling of just how awesome this movie is. I mean, I lost count of all the blade and axe wounds and the final battle is as heartbreaking as it is incredibly packed with action.
The Arrow Video Shaw Scope Volume One box set has a brand new 2K restoration of The Boxer from Shantung from a 4K scan of the original negative by Arrow Films. There’s uncompressed Mandarin and English original mono audio, as well as newly translated English subtitles and English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dubs.
It also has interviews with Chen Kuan-tai, David Chiang and assistant director John Woo, as well as a talk with stars Chen Kuan-tai and Ku Feng filmed at a Shaw Brothers reunion in 2007. You also get Hong Kong and German trailers and a U.S. TV commercial.
You can get this set from MVD.
You can also stream this movie on the Arrow player. Visit ARROW to start your 30-day free trial. Subscriptions are available for $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly. ARROW is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Android TV and mobile devices, Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at https://www.arrow-player.com.