Overview: Martial arts filmmaker Chang Cheh and cinematographer Pao Hsueh-li team up to jointly direct this seminal crime saga on the rise and fall of fighting gangster in early Republican-era Shanghai. Skilled martial artist Chen Kuan-tai makes his starring debut as Ma Yongzhen, a poor martial artist from the country who makes his way to the big city to seek his fortune. While working as a lowly coach cleaner with his loyal friend Xiao Jingbei (Cheng Kang-yeh), Yongzheng has a chance encounter with gang boss Tan Si (David Chiang) that sets him on a course to rise through the ranks of the city’s organized crime world. But in aligning himself with Tan Si, Yongzhen quickly becomes the enemy of rival axe gang leader Yang (Chiang Nan) and his lieutenants, the Four Champions. After Yongzheng begins to disrupt Yang’s operations and take over his turf with superior fighting ability, the elder gang boss assassinates Tan Si. Yang next lures Yongzheng into a lethal ambush in a teahouse filled with his men. A simple assassination attempt turns into a bloodbath as an enraged Yongzheng strikes back, fueled by his desire to avenge the death of Tan Si.
Chen Kuan-tai was Shaw Brothers’ first authentic martial arts star, meaning he came to work for the studio because of his prior expertise in kung fu, unlike most of his peers who went through the studio’s own training program. He previously had a supporting role in Wang Yu’s influential kung fu actioner THE CHINESE BOXER (1970) but after his lead role in THE BOXER FROM SHANTUNG, Chen became one of the studio’s top action stars, headlining many genre hits including HEROES TWO, THE FLYING GUILLOTINE and EXECUTIONERS FROM SHAOLIN.
In an attempt to reboot their film production unit after it was shut down in 1985, Shaw Brothers produced a remake of THE BOXER FROM SHANTUNG. Directed by Corey Yuen and starring Takeshi Kaneshiro as Ma Yongsheng and Yuen Biao as Tan Si, HERO was released in 1997.
AKA: Killer from Shantung, Ma wing ching, Ma yong zhen, 馬永貞
Genre: Basher, Crime, Drama, Kung Fu
Companies: Shaw Brothers
Release Date: February 11, 1972
Producer: Runme Shaw
Director: Chang Cheh, Pao Hsueh-li
Action Director: Tang Chia, Lau Kar-leung, Lau Kar-wing, Chen Chuan
Cast: Chen Kuan-tai (Ma Yongzhen), Ching Li (Jin Lingzi), David Chiang (Tan Si), Cheng Kang-yeh (Xiao Jiangbei), Ku Feng (Zhang Jinfa)
The Boxer from Shantung (1972),