Supposedly dead, embittered former official, The Ghost Face Killer has returned and seeking revenge on those martial arts masters than once opposed him - his name is infamous and his Five ...
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Supposedly dead, embittered former official, The Ghost Face Killer has returned and seeking revenge on those martial arts masters than once opposed him - his name is infamous and his Five Elements fighting style is deadly. Meanwhile, young Ah Pao joins a martial arts school in order to become a great fighter in order to take revenge on the man who killed his father. He gets very good quickly but timing is everything and his arrival at the school in relation to the return of the Ghost Face Killer sees him suspected of being connected and thus put out of the school. He falls under the tutelage of an elderly chess master in the town while all the time the focus of his vengeance kills his way closer and closer. Written by
bob the moo
THE MYSTERY OF CHESS BOXING isn't a very remarkable kung fu movie although I guess others found it more so, with this film and its characters particularly inspiring members of the Wu Tang Clan over in the US. It was directed by the prolific Taiwanese director Joseph Kuo, previously of THE BLAZING TEMPLE and THE 18 BRONZEMEN, and like those movies it feels a little cheap and slapdash in places.
However, THE MYSTERY OF CHESS BOXING does have some good elements, it's just that overall it turns out to be rather average. The storyline is very typical, about a master killer known as the Ghost Face Killer (his name is more interesting than he is) who goes around killing various martial arts masters in the countryside. As usual, the upstanding son of one of the dead men swears revenge, but first he must train.
Training takes up most of this film's plot and it's quite unusual. Firstly the kid, Ah Pao, is kicked out of the kung fu school and must go on the road. The best part of the film is when he teams up with Siu Tin Yuen (aka Simon Yuen, famous for his 'Beggar So' character in DRUNKEN MASTER) for the usual shenanigans involving food and drink. This doesn't last long, and Ah Pao instead ends up at the home of a chess expert who teaches him chess boxing.
Sadly, the chess boxing stuff is never as interesting as it sounds, as it only really adds unusual names for the moves rather than providing a new way of fighting. As such, the eventual end fight feels underwhelming despite everything. The cast are okay and there are some fine little training sequences involved here, but THE MYSTERY OF CHESS BOXING isn't a film to particularly remember.
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