AKA: Hammer of Gods
Director: Jimmy Wang Yu
Writer: Jimmy Wang Yu
Producer: Runme Shaw
Cast: Jimmy Wang Yu, Lo Lieh, Wong Ping, Chiu Hung (Chao Hsiung), Cheng Lui (Cheng Lei), Fong Min, Chan Sing, Yuen Wo Ping, Wong Chung, Wong Ching, Jason Pai Piao
Running Time: 85 min.
By Mighty Peking Man
Jesus. Bruce Lee sure screwed Jimmy Wang Yu over.
Fact #1: The Chinese Boxer was the first martial arts movie to embrace the “I must avenge my teacher” theme.
Fact #2: The Chinese Boxer was the first martial arts movie to feature bare-handed kung fu choreography. Before this, they were all wushu style action sequences.
Fact #3: The Chinese Boxer was the first martial arts movie to feature a scene where one Chinese guy walks into a room full of “Jap bastards” and wipes their asses all over the floor.
These are some pretty crucial evolutions in kung fu cinema, folks. Yet, it’s Bruce Lee who usually gets the credit for them.
But really, you can’t blame anyone for wrongly giving Bruce the credit for this stuff. The thing with Wang Yu is: no matter how many one-armed films he makes; how many eyeball sockets he pokes out; and how many times he co-stars with George Lazenby, he’ll never ever match Bruce Lee’s striking presence and intense physical skill.
It gets worse for Wang Yu. Even though he created highly influential kung fu films, he’s still often called a “has-been” and is usually put in the same category as Bruce Le or Bolo; especially by those who are unaware of his important role in the industry. Even his Master of the Flying Guillotine (which he also wrote and directed) is one of the first martial arts “death tournament” films. Yet, few people connect his name to this accomplishment.
Interestingly, Wang Yu went on to be a bad ass in his own right. While Bruce Lee was busy swallowing poisonous aspirin (planted in Betty Ting Pei’s one-night-stand-purse by ninjas), Wang Yu went on to become a real life, high ranked triad member. There are even stories of how he single-handedly defeated a pack of rival gangsters during a bloody knife fight. He also supposedly saved Jackie from getting killed by Lo Wei’s organization (but that’s another story). I mean, how cool is that?
The Chinese Boxer (also known as Hammer of God) is pure entertainment, especially if you’re in it just just for the action. It’s colorful, corny (for example, Wang Yu kicking ass while wearing a surgical mask and rice-sack mittens on his fists) and filled with more quick cuts and extreme zooms than any chopsocky I’ve ever seen.
The brutality is all over the place. It’s hard hitting and savagely bloody. The fight choreography by Tong Gaai is of early 1970s basher quality, but nonetheless, it’s interesting and doesn’t bore.
The production is solid. Some of the wide angle shots were obviously influenced by Japanese samurai films and are stunning to look at.
The villains are cartoonish, charismatic and have Mortal Kombat-like abilities. At one point, a Japanese baddie (Lo Wei) jumps up and breaks through a ceiling – then lands – for no apparant reason. The main villain’s right hand man (Wang Chung) sports a sinister white-powdered face and his kung fu technique is plucking out people’s eyeballs.
DVD NOTE: Celestial hardly fails when it comes to their re-mastered Shaw Brothers DVDs. However, their release of The Chinese Boxer is seriously f-cked up. During some very crucial parts of the film, the original soundtrack score was omitted for whatever reason. In turn, Celestial worked in new synthesized music and it sounds downright terrible. It’s very noticable and very annoying. I wouldn’t be surprised if some no-talent schmuck was hired to orchestrate the new synth music using an old Casio keyboard.
Don’t worry, though. It will, in no way, ruin your overall appreciation for this milestone kung fu classic.
Mighty Peking Man: 8/10