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.
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.
DVD is available at:
Images in this review courtesy
of Crash Cinema. To read captions, hover mouse over image.
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© John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.
Ratings & Consumer Information
- Quebec: 13+
- Singapore: PG
- Contains moderate violence
FILM REVIEW RATINGS KEY:
- 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