Five Fingers of Death / King Boxer (1972)

Five Fingers of Death / King Boxer (1972)

“I’ll always remember teacher’s words.”

A martial arts student (Lieh Lo) leaves behind the beloved daughter (Ping Wang) of his teacher (Wen Chung Ku) to join the studio of a master instructor (Fang Mien), who enlists the help of Japanese thugs in rigging an upcoming tournament.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Chinese, Hong Kong, and Taiwanese Films
  • Martial Arts

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary notes that this “first Chinese martial-arts film to hit America” started “the crazy and pav[ed] the way for the Bruce Lee classics” — and he adds that while the “picture has been mercilessly attached for its poor dubbing” (I watched a subtitled version) “and hokey plot,” he finds “it great fun to watch an extremely bland hero (Lo Lieh):

… taking on a fabulous array of Chinese and Japanese villains, each more outrageous than his predecessors.”

While “these villains are all considered unbeatable in battle,” “only Lieh possesses the mystical ‘Iron Fist’ to defeat them.”

Peary argues that this “picture has flare, imagination” and at “the very least, it has great camp value” and “would make a good second feature to Infra-Man.”

I’m in agreement with Peary’s review. While it doesn’t offer up much more than it promises, this film remains a colorful, finely choreographed example of why kung-fu became such a craze in the 1970s, and remains worth a one-time look.

Note: The “anger siren” used when Lieh becomes aware of his super-powered hands is the same “ironside motif” used in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies, and was created by Quincy Jones.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Many impressive fight sequences

Must See?
Yes, once, for its historical relevance.


  • Historically Relevant


One thought on “Five Fingers of Death / King Boxer (1972)

  1. First viewing (12/25/20). Not must-see, but martial arts fans will want to check it out.

    Tarantino’s favorite kung fu film is also his 6th favorite film of all-time and (as noted) a major influence on his ‘Kill Bill’ movies (he even used some of the same music).

    The film is surprisingly balanced between narrative scenes and action sequences. It’s overly earnest, sometimes melodramatic; sometimes it gets close to the line of silliness and sometimes it crosses that line into a moment of camp.

    It’s watchable but certainly repetitive as it progresses – and it feels a little longer than it needs to be,

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