It surrounds a young ambitious but poor man named Ma. Ma is in Shanghai and is determined to get rich one day. He doesn’t have much talent besides his incredible fighting prowess. When he meets the head of a local gang, he manages to get pulled into the organised crime world.
Ma’s first encounter with the crime lord Tan, earns a mutual respect between both men. But when Ma starts getting into fights with some of Tan’s rival gang, people start to take notice. He beats all of the men up, including the four champions of this opposing gang.
But Ma’s real break comes when he defeats a Russian Boxer challenging anyone to a fight for money. He defeats the boxer and earns himself $20 (a lot back then). After that he slowly begins to find a nice spot for himself as he has disgraced the two gangs and starts to collect their protection money at certain venues.
Ma begins to make more and more money, and goes after bigger and bigger fish to solidify his position on the streets. All the while he remembers the poor and people who struggle around him, and tries his best to look after them. But it’s not long before some Tan is killed and Ma must fight for his life as his death is planned by his enemies.
The story of how Ma climbs the ladder in the crime world vaguely reminds me of the movie Scarface, only a bit older and in a Shanghai setting filled with martial arts.
Ma is as poor as you can get and manages to become a major player on the streets, and watching him ascend and keep his values is pretty interesting. But that’s about as far as it goes.
The movie doesn’t really offer much else besides an ‘OK’ story line, and is more like the midday movie they put on TV when you’re home sick – you watch it because that’s whats on and it’s entertaining enough for you not to turn off the TV. There’s nothing here which I can really say is especially good, definitely not the fighting.
Martial Arts and Action
The fighting in this movie is full of ferocity and blood, yet it just doesn’t cut it.
The fighters, especially Ma, swing incredibly wildly and jump around far too much to be passed of as technically skilled fighters. The hits and strikes look about as harmless that being thrown by a complete amatuer. I had some real trouble trying to convince myself that these characters were actually good fighters – I doubt any of the actors are well versed in any of the striking martial arts.
Ma plays a tough guy, picking any fight he sees fit, and generally displays the bravado, but it just isn’t backed up.
Everything was just loose and disappointing, but it was 1972. Back then the big waving movements were expected to some degree, but this movie isn’t on par with some of the other movies of it’s time. This is more of a story based watch, and even the story isn’t that great.
It may have been successful back in the day for it’s plot but it’s pretty thin in my opinion and offers little in the way of action. I’d skip past this one .
On DVD –
Region Free (Plays in all countries)
Boxer From Shantung [All Region DVD]
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Boxer from Shantung (1972)