Issue #216a           HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES              June 17th, 2004

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Return of the Chinese Boxer

Cantonese: San kuen dau jin fai cheung sau
Mandarin: Shen quan da zhan kuai qiang shou
English: Mystical Fists Big Battle Fast Gun Hand


RATING: 5/10


Jimmy Wang Yu directed and starred in this follow-up to his ground-breaking 1969 original, a Shaw Brothers production that helped to define the contemporary kung fu film. This independently-produced period effort opens with a group of Japanese lords deciding that the best way to gain power in China is by making friends with a high-ranking Chinese official. They find an ally in General Tao, a major powerbroker in the kingdom, prompting other generals to band against him. The major asset in their fight is martial arts master "Rapid Fist" Sau Pai-lung (Wang), who single-handedly thwarts assassination attempts and other acts of subversion committed by Japanese forces. Unable to vanquish Sau themselves, the invaders enlist the services of several notorious killers, including pole-fighting monk Yin Feng (Kam Kong) and Black Crane (Lung Fei), a ruthless gunslinger.

Jimmy Wang Yu Lung Fei Jimmy Wang Yu (left)

Slowly paced and awkwardly structured, RETURN OF THE CHINESE BOXER is marred by a lengthy and lackluster martial arts tournament flashback and routine plotting. While largely disposable, the film does boast a few memorable elements (like a multi-barreled gun resembling an over-sized fan, an impressive if thoroughly impractical weapon) and one plot point that is awfully hard to resist: when the Japanese find their backs against the wall, they use magic to bring three men back from the dead, transforming them into unstoppable kung fu zombies! Wang lacks the lightning speed and exhilarating grace of the best Chinese martial arts stars but he has a rugged charm that makes him an amiable protagonist, a quality that is in evidence throughout this minor production. The predictably lousy English dubbing is courtesy of the team that revoiced all of the Shaw Brothers kung fu films. Phillip Ko Fei, and Blackie Ko Shou-liang also appear.


Crash's presentation of this film is problematic to say the least. The source material is an extremely worn 35mm print, evidently left over from the original US release, with heavy scratching, non-stop speckling, some vertical flutter, and tattered reel change points. The sound has been subjected to far too much filtering, resulting in clipped dialogue and no upper range whatsoever. To make matters worse, the print's optical soundtrack is marred by heavy distortion on the low end and the disc has such weak audio, one must crank it well up to be able to make out anything that is being said. There is also a loud burst of electronic noise at 19:40 (the audio on Crash's VHS version is reportedly more satisfying). The scope frame measures out at an incomplete but largely symmetrical 2.10:1 and the image is usually sharp. There are no extras. Digital compression was done by Video Transfer Inc.

Kam Kong Blackie Ko Jimmy Wang Yu

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Crash Cinema. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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

DVD Specifications

  • U.S. Release
  • NTSC -- Region 0
  • Crash Cinema #CCD-0205
  • Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Dubbed in English
  • No Subtitles
  • 11 Chapters
  • 4:3 Letterbox (2.10:1; cropped from 2.35)
  • 98 Minutes

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Quebec: 13+
  • Singapore: PG
  • Contains moderate violence


  • 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