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Shanghai Joe (1973) More at IMDbPro »Il mio nome è Shangai Joe (original title)


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Carlo Alberto Alfieri (writer)
Mario Caiano (screenplay)
View company contact information for Shanghai Joe on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
January 1976 (USA) See more »
One Man Stands Alone In His Fight For Justice
A Chinese immigrant, recently arrived in America, fights to free Mexican slaves from their cruel master. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
weird mash-up of 2 exploitation genres See more (16 total) »


  (in credits order)
Chen Lee ... Shanghai Joe / Chin Hao

Klaus Kinski ... Scalper Jack

Gordon Mitchell ... Burying Sam
Claudio Undari ... Pedro, The Cannibal (as Robert Hundar)
Katsutoshi Mikuriya ... Mikuja
Carla Romanelli ... Cristina
Carla Mancini ... Conchita
Giacomo Rossi-Stuart ... Tricky the Gambler
George Wang ... Yang
Federico Boido ... Slim (as Rick Boyd)
Piero Lulli ... Stanley Spencer
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Andrea Aureli ... Sheriff Corrotto
Giorgio Bixio
Lars Bloch ... Racist
Aldo Cecconi ... Racist
Dante Cleri ... Manuel, Barman
Umberto D'Orsi ... Poker player
Alfonso de la Vega ... Craig
Roberto Dell'Acqua ... Smitty
Raniero Dorascenzi ... Cowboy
Lorenzo Fineschi ... Cowboy
Tito García ... Jesus, Slave Trader
Veriano Ginesi ... Blacksmith
Luigi Antonio Guerra ... Spencer Friend
Dante Maggio ... Doctor
Enrico Marciani ... Spencer Friend
Osiride Pevarello ... False Teeth - Ranch Hand
Claudio Ruffini ... Tricky's Partner
Giovanni Sabbatini ... Old Man
Francisco Sanz ... Cristina's Father
Angelo Susani ... Stagecoach Driver
Sergio Testori ... Ranch Hand
Pietro Torrisi ... Ranch Hand
Franco Ukmar ... Ranch Hand

Directed by
Mario Caiano 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Carlo Alberto Alfieri  writer
Mario Caiano  screenplay
Fabrizio Trifone Trecca  screenplay (as T.F. Karter)

Produced by
Renato Angiolini .... producer
Roberto Bessi .... producer
Original Music by
Bruno Nicolai 
Cinematography by
Guglielmo Mancori 
Film Editing by
Amedeo Giomini 
Production Design by
Riccardo Domenici 
Set Decoration by
Riccardo Domenici 
Costume Design by
Orietta Nasalli-Rocca 
Makeup Department
Gianfranco Mecacci .... makeup artist
Production Management
Ennio Onorati .... production manager
Sound Department
Luciano Muratori .... boom operator
Primiano Muratori .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Mario Sbrenna .... camera operator
Music Department
Bruno Nicolai .... conductor
Other crew
Laura Mazza .... script supervisor

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Il mio nome è Shangai Joe" - Italy (original title)
"The Dragon Strikes Back" - International (English title)
"The Fighting Fists of Shangai Joe" - International (English title)
See more »
Germany:94 min (DVD version) | USA:98 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

The scene in which Gordon Mitchell's character sings "Chin-Chin Chinaman" while carrying a shovel was improvised on the spot by Mitchell. He also created the song.See more »
Revealing mistakes: In the scene where Shangai Joe is in the bullfighting arena, at one point a red cape for attracting the bull's attention is visible.See more »
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weird mash-up of 2 exploitation genres, 11 December 2010
Author: Billy Wiggins from New Jersey

Ahhhh, the Kung Fu Spaghetti Western, a weird hybrid that existed for a brief flash in the world of exploitation cinema. This film, known by various titles including DRAGON STRIKES AGAIN and most commonly THE FIGHTING FIST OF SHANGHAI JOE, came out in 1974, probably the zenith year for such attempts. (FYI, 1992 was the peak year for the Cyborg/Kickboxer mash-up--but that's another story.) Directed by undistinguished Italian genre hack Mario Caiano, the pic presents the tale of a Chinese loner ambling his way through the American Old West. The lead is played by the little-seen Chen Lee. Lee has only three movie credits to his name, each in an Italian film, which begs the question of whether he is an actor per se or merely a expert martial artist that happened to be living in Italy at the time. But whatever the explanation, Lee manages to acquit himself rather well in this performance. He has an easygoing, laconic presence that is pleasantly free of the stiffness sometimes on display among non-acting fighters. (Of course his dialog is dubbed, but so is everyone else's here, so it's hard to judge him in that respect.) After a few vignettes depicting Lee's troubles in finding transportation, food, and ranch work due to the locals' bigotry and bullying, we settle in to the main thrust of the story, wherein Lee aims to help liberate Mexican peons who are being enslaved by evil rancher Spencer, played by the familiar Piero Lulli. Along to help him is the pretty Mexican Cristina (Carla Romanelli), and she turns into a sort of love interest for him.

There are a few weird quirks about the pic that are worth noting. First, our hero goes unnamed for about the first 3/4 of the film--no one asks his name an he is never addressed by anyone. Then out of the blue, he offhandedly refers to himself as "Shanghai Joe" in a chat with Cristina. OK, after 80 minutes we learn his name... the in the very next scene, Spencer calls for "Joe" to be killed and shouts, "Go get Chin Hao!", a name by which "Joe" is referred for the final few minutes. What the heck? How did Spencer learn this guy's Chinese name? Is this a sloppy scripting gaffe, a botched dubbing mistake, poor exposition? Whatever the reason, it's weird.

Another oddity is the plot twist where, late in the story, Spencer and his men meet to decide how to deal with Joe. They opine that four notorious hit men would each be perfect for doing away with the Chinaman. What follows is a quick series of pretty ridiculous vignettes as colorful baddies with names like "The Cannibal" are dispatched by Joe. Among these hit men are top-billed stars Gordon Mitchell as "Buryin' Sam" and Klaus Kinski as "Scalper Jack". Their scenes are so brief, basically cameo appearances, that neither of the two have a real chance to flex their wild, woolly acting chops. A wasted opportunity.

The hit men sequences display another unusual aspect of this picture: a great number of grotesque, gory and explicit wounds and deaths. Kinski's character, obviously, relishes cutting his victim's scalps off; Mitchell builds a spiked grave-trap for his victim to fall into. Also seen elsewhere in the film are an eyeball gouged out, homemade acupuncture on a bullet wound, and a man's hand shot off. Gruesome stuff and oddly disconcerting, these shots don't give a visceral thrill or gasp, rather, they make you do a double-take in disbelief, like, "what was *that*?" Also unusual to the modern viewer are the camera tricks and staging used to suggest Joe's jumping and fighting prowess. Quite a few times we see the ol' "reverse footage" trick to depict someone jumping from a standstill up onto a tall perch. In '74 that might have wowed 'em, but by now we can see right through that trick.

In the end, the various exploitation elements can't make this a cohesive, engaging feature. Caiano's pacing is suspect, as little momentum carries over from one scene to the next, giving the 93-minute picture quite a plodding pace. And with no protagonist other than the stone-faced Joe, there is no charismatic heart to the story. As capable as Lee is, an effervescent sidekick or partner might have livened things up. What we do have to stir the soul, however, is the absolutely BRILLIANT theme music by Bruno Nicolai, which plays several times throughout. As great as the Morricone-trained Nicolai is, I will without hesitation call this the greatest theme (that I've heard) of his career. It is a rousing, epic delight that will stay with you long after the flick is done.

In all, I think the idea of this film is better than the actual finished product. Kung Fu, cowboys, cartoonish violence and gore, eastern philosophy, gunfights ... it ought to add up to a better picture that what it is. Not on anybody's must-see list, but a watchable curiosity. Call it a C+, or 6/10 stars.

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