Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Boxer from Shantung (Shaw Brothers Collection)

R2 France





This film tends to divide Shaw Brothers cultists, with some claiming it is a masterpiece and others calling it an overrated relic. The real truth probably lies somewhere in the middle: Boxer From Shantung was a historically important hit for the company, but it has its strengths and its flaws. On the plus side, it has excellent period sets & costumes, strong fight choreography, a wonderful cast of Shaw Brothers vets and a convincing, charismatic lead performance from Chen Kuan-Tai in his first major lead. On the downside, the characterizations are thin and the story often bogs down in the middle due to some awkward pacing and unnecessary scenes. Thus, Boxer From Shantung will probably be of limited interest to non-fans of the kung fu genre. However, enthusiasts will want to stick with it for its sense of epic grandeur and its often stunning fight scenes. The crowning glory in the latter category is the final fight, a self-contained mini-epic that hits jaw-dropping levels of carnage before going out with a bang. All in all, Boxer From Shantung is worth a look to genre fans for its action and its historical importance.

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