by HELEN GEIB
The DVD cover for King Boxer, the Shaw Brothers kung fu classic newly re-released under the Dragon Dynasty label, boldly proclaims the film “required viewing for cinephiles” because it is “the first international martial arts movie sensation!” The marketing hype is unusually well-founded as this is indeed the movie that launched the 1970s kung fu craze in America, and happily, movie history literacy is the least of several good reasons to watch King Boxer.
Foremost among those reasons for most kung fu movie fans is the old-school fighting choreographed by Lau Kar-Wing and performed by a cast of highly trained martial artists led by Lieh Lo. While martial arts skills often took precedence over acting ability in the casting, a strong story and the often-astonishing fight scenes more than compensate for the weaknesses in the performances. King Boxer holds artistic interest for any movie fan for Chang-Hwa Jeong’s fluid and emotionally resonant direction that fully realizes the dramatic potential of the fights.
Sound and picture quality are fantastic and the DVD is packed with extras, including a commentary by David Chute and Elvis Mitchell; interviews with Jeong and Lau; interviews with Chute and Andy Klein; an extensive trailer gallery of original trailers for other Shaw Brothers releases of the era; and a stills gallery.
New releases this week: Believe in Me, Delta Farce, Georgia Rule