7.2/10
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30 user 47 critic

Five Fingers of Death (1972)

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

Director:

(as Chang Ho Cheng)

Writer:

(screenplay)
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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

PALE before the forbidden ritual of the steel palm. See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 March 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

5 Fingers of Death  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

messenger: Hey listen! Some great news! Chi-Hao's beat up Chen Lang down at Chen Sun House.
Han Lung: What? You're kidding.
messenger: No, no, no, I saw it happening!
Han Lung: God damn it.
See more »

Connections

References Shane (1953) See more »

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User Reviews

 
recommended.
2 September 2007 | by See all my reviews

Five fingers of death: Although previous Shaw Martial Arts epics had shown the influence of the American cowboy genre, none had paid such open tribute to it as this one, especially in the saloon fight scene. And though Shaw Bros. films had borrowed from the Japanese chambara (swordfight) genre before, none had done so with such success as this one. i suppose some of this had to do with the fact that the director originated from Korea, and thus brought a non-Chinese perspective to such borrowings, which certainly raises some interesting questions about culture; but in any event, this film presented real innovations in technology and technique in Hong Kong action films. for the first time in Hong Kong, the camera was given access to the whole of any given set, which meant shots from many different angles, such as the low-angle interior shot showing the ceiling of a room (the original American innovation of which usually credited to John Ford), or the high angle long shot that allowed visualization of a large ground area, or the frontal tracking shot.

It is true that this was not the first hand-to-hand combat film of real cinematic substance - that remains Wang Yu's 'Chinese Boxer'; but on a commercial level, Shaw Bros. were right to choose 'Five Fingers' as their first major release to the West because, one might say, it was the 'least Chinese' of their action films, that is, the least dependent on purely Chinese theater traditions. Although this made no impression on the American critics at the time (who universally trashed the picture), it wasn't lost on American audiences, especially among African Americans, whose culture had always been - by necessity - an eclectic patchwork of borrowed elements and innovation. In 'Five Fingers' they were given the opportunity to discover the core of the story, in the earnest young man forced to make the extra effort to overcome social barriers and betrayal in order to have his merit recognized. This seems to be an issue universal to Modernity, but each culture has its own way of expressing and resolving it; 'Five Fingers' presented it in a way many Americans could relate to as well as Chinese.

So is the film now only of historical value? Certainly not. For one thing this issue hasn't gone away. Secondly, some of the innovations leave much of the film looking as fresh today as it did on first release. Also the action is well-staged, and the performances, though a little too earnest, are crisp. The film is a might over-long, but the story does cover a lot of ground. And there are marvelous set-pieces through-out, such as the saloon confrontation, the fight on the road to the contest, the odd double finale.

definitely looks better on a theater screen, but still impressive for home viewing: recommended.


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