It’s time for some more old skool. The ‘Mystery of Chess Boxing’ is a movie form 1979 that also goes by the name of ‘Ninja Checkmate’ – a strange name considering there are no ninjas, just a bit of Chess.
So we’re introduced to Ah Pao, a youngster with a keen urge to learn Kung Fu and kill someone. It sounds horrible, I know, but it’s all to get revenge for his murdered father so it’s ok – so he’s a good guy!
He does his best to study at a local Kung Fu school but has much trouble gaining any respect from the elder students – who bully and treat him like a doormat. Schools are all the same!
After sometime he befriends the chef at the school and begins to learn bits and pieces of Kung Fu from him. He learns enough to develop some nice physical skill and starts to turn the tables a little on his bullies, turning their attitude against them a little with cheerful smile.
After a fight with one of the students he drops a metal plate that was left on his father’s body – this plate symbolizes the ‘ghost face killer’. Disgusted, in belief that he is working for the ghost face killer, his head instructor kicks Ah Pao out of the school.
After being kicked out he seeks out another master under the recommendation of the chef, and begins training to take his revenge. Meanwhile, the ghost face killer starts to show up nearby, so you can guess where this is heading…
A big chunk of 70’s Kung Fu movies can be summed up with a simple formula – proficient student is defeated by foe, learns secrets from another master (during a training montage or segment) and then comes back to defeat / take revenge on his most powerful enemies.
This is one of those movies…
Don’t get me wrong, it’s entertaining but very predictable. One thing you gotta love about the classics is the humor they inject into the characters and the general flow of the films is pretty simple and easy to follow.
Ah Pao uses his positive attitude to overcome his bullying and he has a very happy-go-lucky persona – despite the fact he is living for revenge. It’s a fun and relatively standard 70’s Kung Fu watch.
The Action & Martial Arts
The action steps up alongside other great 70’s flicks and offers a lot of movement and acrobatic flips from what would have to be an insanely fit cast of actors.
But like a lot of other movies form this time, the message and main ‘kung fueyness’ comes in the training. This movie is title ‘The Mystery of Chess boxing’ so naturally he is taught how to play chess before asking why.
We see Ah Pao learn the connection between the strategy of Chess and Kung Fu, so naturally he applies this to his fighting, creating a more intelligent and strategic approach to winning his battles. The action delivered is much the same though, with only minor differences.
Yeah, another standard 70’s Kung Fu flick, if you like ’em check this one out.
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
Mystery of Chessboxing
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
The Mystery Of Chess Boxing [DVD]