Five Fingers of Death (1972)

R   |    |  Action, Drama, Romance


Five Fingers of Death (1972) Poster

Two martial arts schools prepare for an important tournament.


7.1/10
2,775

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Director:

Chang-hwa Jeong

Writer:

Yang Chiang (screenplay)

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8 December 2013 | bob the moo
It works but a good plot is stretched out too much and the action isn't extended the same courtesy
I have been browsing through a few Shaw Brothers films from the 70's of late and decided it was time to watch the one that is credited with bringing these films to the American attention. King Boxer (as the version I saw was called) sees promising young student Chi-Hao 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. Within this very basic frame there are lots of characters coming and going and lots of complications. While I wanted to like this aspect for doing more than the norm, the truth was that the film gives too much time to too many characters and tries to do too much with them in terms of their actions and changes of heart within the main plot.

The impact this has is to make the film longer and slower than it can bare, which is a real shame because when it has pace it moves well. It could easily have lost 1 or maybe 2 characters to make the plot a bit leaner and lose 20 minutes or more from the running time and it would have been a better film for it. It doesn't help that the performances often err on the side of being too earnest and come over a little stiff. I liked Lo Lieh as a presence but he was guilty of this. By contrast I liked the minor turn by Shen Chan as he was smirking in his villainy. The rest of the cast tend to be a bit too sluggish and earnest which is a shame but doesn't extend to the action. On this front the film has a lot to recommend and the action looks and moves well. I would have liked a bit more of an impacting final few fights but it was good stuff even if the longer running time tended to rob the film of energy between fights.

Another good Shaw Brothers film then, but it runs too long and is given too heavy a tone and as a result the film feels a bit too sluggish for its own good.

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Genres

Action | Drama | Romance

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