Leaving the poverty of his life in Shantung to seek fortune in Shanghai, The Boxer is instead drawn into a world of corruption, gang warfare and evil... Where his only protection is his famed fighting technique.
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Ma Yung Cheng leaves Shantung, trying to find better fortune in Shanghai, trusting his youth and physical valour. He meets friendship with Hsiai Chiang Pei, and love (CHING LI), and fate has him meet, and find employment with a local gangster. He defeats an undefeatable Foreign Champion, then three champions at once, only to fall into a trap set up by gangster arch-rival Yang Shuang... Written by
Boxer from Shantung is pretty much what you'd get if you made Goodfellas as a Chinese martial arts film. Ma Yongzhen (Chen Kuan-tai) is poor country boy who moves to Shanghai to seek his fortune. Unfortunately, the times are tough and oftentimes he and his friends don't even have enough money for a roof over their heads. But after meeting a legendary crime lord Tan Si (David Chiang), Ma realizes that the only way to move forward in this city of poverty and misery is to do so through illegal means.
Boxer from Shantung elevates itself above most of its peers by the virtue of its fight scenes. Chen is a fantastic, fully-trained martial artist, whose various moves and stunts are beautiful to watch. I also like the fact that unlike in so many other martial arts films, the main character is not invincible. Fitting for a gangster film. The last fight scene is actually pretty brutal to watch because of this, but all the more awesome for it. Definitely one of the best fight scenes I've seen in my life and worth the price of admission by itself.
What keeps the film from being a masterpiece is the fact that the story is rather bland. It starts out well enough and the ending is fantastic, but the middle part lost me pretty quickly. It felt like the film was simply going through the motions to get to the good part. It's by no means awful and you still get a lot of good fights, but the characters themselves don't become as dear to you as they should.
Still, it's a film you see to watch people kung fu fighting. And for that it is a very good film. If you're looking a captivating story and fleshed-out characters, this is not your film, but I think you already knew that walking in.
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