QUEEN BOXER (1972, aka THE AVENGER) is the film that introduced fighting femme Judy Lee (aka Chia Ling) to a worldwide audience. It's a simple low-budget tale that's as much crime drama as kung fu movie as it chronicles the clash of two lone kung fu fighters against a powerful crime boss in early 20th century Shanghai. One of the two is Fan Kao To (Yeung Kwan), an unemployed laborer who seeks to rally the working people of Shanghai, in a rare display of kung fu social consciousness, to gain control over their conditions. The other fighter is a mysterious woman who shows up in Shanghai looking for crime boss Pai Lai Lee. Her mission has some connection, eventually revealed, to the recently deceased gangster Ma Yung Chen whose story, incidentally, was told earlier the same year in the Shaw Bros. rise-and-fall gangster kung fu classic, BOXER FROM SHANTUNG (1972), which starred Chen Kuan Tai. Ma's demise (which took nearly 20 minutes in SHANTUNG) is recreated--in condensed form--in a pre-credits sequence in QUEEN BOXER.
Fan and Judy's character team up for one rousing fight midway through the film in a teahouse in which the action takes up two whole floors with each of the two heroes taking on dozens of Pai's henchmen, including `Michael,' a white guy with a gun. The final fight--10 minutes long--features Judy solo as she takes on Pai's gang in Pai's rather cramped villa. All of Pai's heavy hitters are on deck and Judy lunges at them with utmost ferocity. She kicks with the best of them, slashes with dual knives and swirls around with strength, vigor and balance. She leaps off balconies, rolls over tables and along surfaces and then kicks upward to send combatants flying backwards. She handles multiple opponents with dexterity and force. She is fighting fury incarnate and such a cinematic phenomenon that she belongs in a class with Angela Mao as the two top fighting femmes in Hong Kong cinema. This is the real thing, in contrast with Zhang Ziyi's overly genteel wire-and-effects-assisted restaurant brawl in CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2000).
The film has a gritty, dark, grainy look, shot on sets and actual city streets that look pretty rundown. It's similar in style to Shaw Bros.' early 1970s crime-themed kung fu films VENGEANCE, DUEL OF THE IRON FIST and the aforementioned BOXER FROM SHANTUNG (all reviewed on this site).
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