Issue #206a         HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES                 April 5th, 2004

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The Shadow Boxer
(1974; Shaw Brothers)

Cantonese: Tai gik kuen
Mandarin: Tai chi chuan
English: Tai Chi Fist


RATING: 6/10


This little discussed Shaw Brothers period effort represents the sole starring role for Chen Wo-fu, a personable Tai Chi Chuan proponent, who committed suicide shortly after this Pao Hsueh-li film finished production. Chen plays Ku Ding, an impoverished labourer who has mastered Tai Chi under the tutelage of elderly teacher Yeung (Yang Chi-ching). Ku and his fellow road workers are cheated out of half of their wages by supervisor Tang Hoi-hay (Yeung Chak-lam), who claims that the money is going into the "welfare fund." It is, of course, merely lining his pockets and the those of Boss Jin Dai-sing (Frankie Wai Wang). The latter fancies himself an expert fighter and is eager to test his skills against Yeung but the latter refuses to oblige him. Offended, Jin orders his underlings (including Chan Shen) to kill Yeung. Meanwhile, Jin has his way with Ku's girl (Chan Mei-hua) and the worker trying to organize the men to defy the company's new draconian policies is murdered. Revenge is clearly called for and Ku is aided in his efforts by Master Yeung's able daughter (Shih Szu) and a drunken associate (Wong Kwong-yue) of Jin, who finally decides to take a stand against his corruption.

Chen Wo-fu Yang Chi-ching (left), Chen Wo-fu Shih Szu (left), Chen Wo-fu

The plot proceeds in the expected manner and piles on more tragedy than is really necessary to convince Ku that he must put aside Yeung's pacifist teachings and use his abilities to eliminate the enemy. Luckily, the cliched and heavy-handed scenario does not weigh too heavily on the martial arts sequences; the climactic fight is particularly intense and violent. While he clearly still had a ways to go as an actor, Chen’s physical abilities impress. That, coupled with his screen presence, suggests that he could have succeeded in the industry, if not with a major like Shaw Brothers than most certainly with one of the independent studios. While THE SHADOW BOXER is ultimately a minor film with an unfortunate historical footnote, the kung fu is polished and an early instruction sequence nicely visualizes the Tai Chi philosophy of triumphing over a more powerful opponent by turning force against itself.

Frankie Wai Yeung Chak-lam Yang Chi-ching


This film has been very nicely restored, with all damage digitally cleansed. Colors are bright and appealing and the remixed audio has no serious flaws (though that annoying insect foley is in full force). The regular Celestial extras are on offer: video promos spots, bios/filmographies, and two photo galleries.

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Intercontinental Video Ltd. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.

DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC -- Region 3 Only
  • Intercontinental Video Ltd. #101496
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Post-synced Mandarin Language Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional Chinese, Malaysian, and Indonesian
  • 12 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)
  • 82 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Ontario: R
  • Singapore: PG (cut)
  • Contains moderate violence, sexual violence, and nudity


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful