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Five Fingers of Death (1972)

Tian xia di yi quan (original title)
Two martial arts schools prepare for an important tournament.


(as Chang Ho Cheng)



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lieh Lo ...
Ping Wang ...
Hsiung Chao ...
Chin-Feng Wang ...
Mien Fang ...
Feng Tien ...
James Nam ...
Han Lung (as Nan Kung-Hsun)
Shen Chan ...
Pa Tu-er, Mongolian Fighter
Wen Chung Ku ...
Lung Yu ...
Yukio Someno ...
Oshima Shotaro (as Ran Yeh)
Tse Lin Yang ...
Sun's pupil
Chi Chu Chin ...
Bong-jin Jin ...
Lu Ta-ming (as Chen Feng Chen)


Promising young student Chi-Hao is sent away to train under a new master in order that he may be able to win a martial arts tournament and thus prevent the local thugs from getting the power and prestige that would come were they to win it. Written by bob the moo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The first international martial arts movie sensation See more »


Action | Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 March 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

5 Fingers of Death  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The English dubbed version, released through Warner Brothers, was the film that launched the craze for "kung fu" movies in the United States. See more »


Shen Chin-Pei: Chi-Hao, you're and honest and level-headed youngster. You're bound to go far. I'd like to... teach you my secret technique, known as the Iron Fist.
Chao Chi-Hao: Thank you, Sir.
Shen Chin-Pei: Chi-Hao, during the past year I've given you all sorts of menial tasks. That's because I wanted to test your patience, and toughen you up physically. That's the first step in training for the Iron Fist.
Chao Chi-Hao: Thank you very much, Sir.
Shen Chin-Pei: You see, I'm not getting any younger, and in that incident earlier on today, I got quite badly hurt. So ...
See more »


Referenced in Massage Parlor Murders! (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

A kung fu classic with special meaning to me.
17 April 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is truly a kung fu classic. This film appears to have influenced martial arts films for decades. The Spanish guitar background music, the competing schools, the impossibly high leaps onto the edges of rooftops, catching thrown spears, cheating in tournaments, the secret training for an exotic karate technique, themes of patience and perseverance, and more were copied by many later films such as "The Karate Kid" (1984), "Hero" (2002), "Kill Bill Volume 2" (2004), and "Kung Fu Hustle" (2004).

I feel lucky to have first seen this film in 1972, shortly after it was released, just before kung fu films became mainstream and before Bruce Lee became a household name. I saw it with two buddies of mine in a downtown San Diego theater frequented by sailors, and although the scenes of the glowing red hands and gouged eyeballs got some laughs, clearly the audience was getting into it, as was our little group. It was a very memorable movie for me. Decades later I could still recall several specific scenes, even after I had forgotten the film title. This film is extra special to me now because one of those two buddies with whom I first saw it (sailor Kenneth Lee Hines of the Kitty Hawk) has since passed away, so this film serves as a memento of that day together before we took judo and karate lessons in subsequent years.

Relative to kung fu films, I'd rate this film as 10/10. But since I have to keep the larger film audience in mind, I'll more objectively rate it as 8/10, due to obvious technical flaws. I just recommend that neophyte viewers consider those technical flaws to be proof of its vintage nature and of its authenticity, and then merrily proceed to enjoy its testosterone-charged mayhem.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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