8.THE CHINESE BOXER (1970) Chinese Boxer opens like many other kung fu films do. A bad guy walks into town, kicks some children’s toy ball away and challenges the students of a kung fu school to show what their made of. After getting their asses kicked hard, one student runs to find Lei Ming (Jimmy Wang Yu) who works in a quarry breaking rocks with a large hammer. Lei Ming runs back to find his school in turmoil. That is, until his Master Lee (Fong Min) takes out the abrasive fellow with a punch that makes him spit blood. In shame, the baddie leaves the school and things seem to be alright for the moment.
After his big failure, the main baddie leaves and comes back to town with some pals from Japan. The main one being a super karate fighter named Kita (Lo Lieh). This is where the film begins to get fun. The Japanese trio show up at Lei Mings school one night and they take on the entire place. When you see Lo Lieh do his thing you will go nuts. This guy doesnt just fight, he is a ruthless badass and he makes his character Chao Chi Hao in King Boxer look like a joke.
The next day Kita and the other men relax in a local bar, but when one of Lei Mings fellow students shows up in the place, He sees Kita and the Japanese rival walks over to taunt the young man. When the young man insults the leader, Kita hears this and he goes BUCKWILD. He literally goes through the roof, breaking the stone ceiling and the two other karate fighters take on Lei Mings friend. He holds up a little while but then he goes down hard when his eyes are gouged out and blood runs out of them like faucets.
The trio of Japanese karate men take on the entire kung fu school and destroy the place, killing Master Lee and the others. Heads get cracked, blood spurts like water fountains!! The Chinese kung fu school is decimated by these ruthless karate toughs. This action is heavy and brutal much like Sonny Chiba’s Streetfighter karate films that came out a few years later. After the intense and earth shaking battle, the only one left alive (barely) is Lei Ming.
Lei Ming slowly recovers, now covered in bandages with the help of a girlfriend. He takes his time and tries to rejuvenate himself by chopping wood and exercising. The next sequence is where Lei Ming begins to dip his hands into hot iron thus creating the Iron Fist style. I really loved how Jimmy Wang Yu shot this scene. We see different ancient chinese statues faces inserted as Lei Ming painfully burns his hands in the wok of white hot iron. Lei Ming also trains in “light step” techniques by putting weights around his ankles and tries to vault over some high bars hes made. After several days of doing this, he takes the weights off and he can jump as high as Kita can. Since Lei Mings hands are severely burnt from the Iron Fist technique, he now wears large white mitts to help them heal.
In a local casino, Kita and his thugs are now bullying the local owners to give up their money to them. They dont see Lei Ming sitting in the restaraunt drinking a cup of tea. When the thugs begin to hit the owner and knock him down, Lei Ming puts this surgical mask hes wearing around his neck, over his face. He runs to the mans aid and kicks the thugs out. This is the first appearance of the vigilante Lei Ming is becoming. He looks like a Chinese doctor now, only he operates using his deadly kung fu skills. Too cool.
One night, Lei Ming sneaks into the Japanese clans home and pours gasoline all over, then throws a lantern into it and just turns the whole place into a bonfire. He doesnt beat around the bush! This was another prime example of the anti-Japanese sentiment that Chinese people had at this time. You can also see it show up in Bruce Lee’s film The Chinese Connection aka Fists of Fury. Word gets out that Lei Ming is someone to get rid of. The Japanese have plenty of tricks up their sleeves too. They bring in 2 samurai fighters. To show how their nasty skills are, Kita opens a birdcage and throws some chickadees up in the air, the 2 samurai assassins slice them up into bite size chunks.
Lei Ming shows up the towns casino where all the men are playing cards and such. The only difference between the locals and Lei Ming is he has a surgical mask over his face and white mitts on his hands, so he sort of stands out in the crowd. When the dealers see him, they begin to whisper and make faces at him. We can see they know who he is and the next thing they do is have a soldier run and tell the Japanese leader that hes there. As Lei Ming watches the game, suddenly about 100 thugs begin to pour into the casino from all sides. They all carry chains, axes, knives, staffs and other deadly weapons. Lei Ming is stunned, but as he waits for something to happen, he ominously taps the coins in his hand (listen to the sound come through the speakers). This sound elevates the tension, but with a flash, Le Ming is into the fight, surrounded on all sides, but he quickly takes out all the thugs, he crushes their sternums with his Iron Fists. This fight scene is one of the best ever put onscreen. Its totally brutal and choreographed brilliantly by Jimmy Wang Yu. After getting rid of all the thugs, Lei Ming exits the casino. Now, as snow falls all around him, The Japanese leader shows up with the 2 samurai assassins with more waiting in the field nearby.
The last battle takes place on a nountain in the cold harsh weather. Lei Ming shows up at the top of the mountain where his last opponent Kita is waiting. As backup, Kita brings his two cohorts to fight Lei Ming in a pre-fight. When Lei Ming is ready, he finally removes his mitts from his Iron Fist hands. I have to say, this is some of the best martial arts hand to hand combat put on film. Jimmy Wang Yu puts these scenes together wonderfully and when you see them you will cheer in excitement. The fights against each thug is brutal. One thing I love about these flilms from Shaw Brothers is they are not cut or edited to please censors like we have iun the USA. For example, in Bruce Lee’s Enter The Dragon (1973), after beating O’Hara (Bob Wall) in the tournament, Bruce ends the fight with a deadly sternum breaking death stomp but we never see the actual death blow. We just see Bruce’s face. In Chinese Boxer, when Lei Ming stomps an opponent, we see the actual sternum crunch, and the blood flying too. Its called ACTION!! After Lei Ming takes out both men (he breaks ones arm and gouges out the others eyes, and the blood covers his body). Now, its time for the final battle against Kita.
“How cool is it to watch Jimmy Wang Yu battle Lo Lieh” you ask? In my kung fu loving opinion, its pretty damn awesome. Oh man, the fight these two have is incredible! They go at it like two rabid kung fu wolverines. They throw fists, kung fu/karate kicks miss and trees break, fists puncture torsos, bodies fly through the air in superhuman flight. I cant even put into words how great this face off is. So I wont try to. I will let you see for yourself when you check the film out.