#1 Fist Under Heaven

Break out the theme from “Ironside”, because 5 Fingers of Death, aka King Boxer,  is the Greatest Movie EVER!

Click on the movie poster or the title above to download our review of the film, featuring Sean “Hollywood” Hunting.

Review in a Nutshell:  A carefully balanced blend of drama and martial arts action, 5 Fingers of Death is the film that kick-started the kung fu film craze in America.

This movie contains:

Lieh Lo, Sans Mustache.

Hand Trauma.

The Old DVD release vs the Dragon Dynasty DVD.

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14 Responses

  1. awesome show as always. It was very interesting to hear this was the movie that started the American Kung Fu movement. I always thought that Master Of The Flying Guillotine (yes i had to look up how to correctly spell Guillotine AGAIN) started the American fascination with Kung Fu. I love “5 fingers of death” and think it holds it’s own with all of the greats. As someone who owns over 200 kung fu movies this is DEFINITELY ranks as one of the truly GREATEST MOVIES EVER. Thanks for reviewing it. Love the movie, love your podcast! …. cue Iron Sides/Kill Bill music here!

  2. I thought this was covered already. (shrug) whatever. Its too bad you don’t do sound effects on the podcast anymore. The Ironsides/Kill Bill music would be a great addition to the library

  3. Immortal Iron Fist did indeed peter out once Fraction/Brubaker left, but there have been some great subsequent stories by other writers. The Immortal Weapons mini was really excellent, and even the lame-as-heck Spider-Island had some great tie-ins (Cloak and Dagger, who’d have thought?), one of which was the 3-part Deadly Hands of Kung Fu tie-in during which Shang-Chi gets mixed up with Iron Fist and the Immortal Weapons. They also show up in the two-part Iron Man 2.0 Fear Itself tie-in, which for some reason has basically NOTHING to do with anything that book is normally about. It’s just more Iron Fist/Immortal Weapons. Fine by me, but I get why people were pissed. Anyway.

    I often cite Five Fingers of Death as the original “you killed my master, prepare to DIE” kung fu movie and respect it from a historical perspective, but I recall thinking the movie itself was “just okay” when I saw it forever ago in the VHS days. Based on this podcast, I think I need to go back to it…should the day come when I find someone else willing to watch the thing. That’ll have to be after I replace my lame DVD copy of Mad Monkey Kung Fu with the DD edition (didn’t even know it came out 2 months ago since DD hasn’t updated their site in forever) and Executioners From Shaolin. Here’s hoping Fists of the White Lotus is next.

    Lau Kar-Wing has got to be one of the most underrated martial arts directors/choreographers out there. You hardly ever see his name get mentioned when people talk about the greats, but that dude is seriously awesome. He also worked on the aforementioned Master of the Flying Guillotine, but he’s perennially overshadowed by the fact that his brother’s Lau Kar-Leung. But even LKL didn’t do all those great movies alone. Kar-Wing was right there beside him most of the time. I mean, have there really been any OTHER two people in the film industry with the necessary skillsets required to put together, perform, and film that infamous 20 minute fight at the end of Legendary Weapons of China besides Lau Kar-Leung and Lau Kar-Wing?

  4. Executioners from Shaolin and Mad Monkey Kung Fu, among others, are being released by Arc Entertainment, rather than the Weinstein Company: http://www.arc-ent.com/dragondynasty.html

    It’s possible that Bey Logan and co. jumped ship. I can’t see how another company could use the ‘Dragon Dynasty’ label otherwise, unless the name is actually owned by Celestial Pictures, and they can license it to whomever they want…

  5. Because i am a nerd, I have a few corrections:

    1. His name was Micheal Ironside.

    2. The music where Sean gets his ringtone from IS part of theme song, but basically, it’s playing over a sniper drawing a bead on ironside, and then shooting him, paralyzing him. (not in like, full video, but in graphics).

  6. The original dialogue is correctly presented in this release and it is Mandarin. Cantonese audiences only really became targeted in Hong Kong when Golden Harvest busted out Drunken Master and Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow in 1978; up until then, the export-oriented HK film industry favoured the lingua franca and films like Fist of Fury only got Cantonese dubs afterward.

    Translating the title as “The Number One Fist in the World” is very appropriate; tiānxià does literally mean “under heaven” and as it relates to the ancient Chinese worldview there is a lot of baggage attached to the term…but it can also just mean “the world”. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar; I think drawing connections between political thought and a revenge flick is…well, it’s a thought isn’t it.

    Also, Five Fingers of Death was released on DVD back in 2007 when this whole Dragon Dynasty thing still had dual layered DVDs and bonus material. The releases since then have been all over the place, especially where Blu-ray is concerned. It’s a case-by-case basis with their output, so it’s definitely worth doing your homework. And oh man, steel yourself for those new covers…

    @Daryl: have you heard of The Chinese Boxer (1969)?

  7. Upon a cursory Google search, it looks like Arc Entertainment had a deal with The Weinstein Company to handle the distribution side of things for 10 of their recent Dragon Dynasty releases. Why that means DD can’t update their own site with the announcements is anyone’s guess. Still, they’re doing 4-pack releases of the titles they distributed, with each pack running about $20:

    http://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Dynastys-Ultimate-Kung-4pk/dp/B005E7SEZW/?tag=aniworord-20

    That’s a pretty sweet deal for some solid movies (I’m guessing there’ll be a Flying Guillotine pack too), though keep in mind that the recent crop of releases no longer have bonus features. I think we’re at the point where we buy things for the bonus features because there are all sorts of non-physical media methods of seeing “just” the movie.

    As for Chinese Boxer: I was never super huge into Jimmy Wang Yu, so I’m pretty certain that I saw it on VHS and thought it was another run-of-the-mill “those devil Japanese murdered my family” yarns. At least, that’s certainly what I thought of its sequel, Return of the Chinese Boxer. But upon looking up the movie when you asked about it, I noticed that it was initially released in the US under the name “The Hammer of God.”

    And let me tell you, the theatrical poster for that is something else. Back in the 1970s you could use this as a viable tagline for your movie and get away with it: http://www.impawards.com/1973/hammer_of_god.html

  8. I know you have a love of hard to find underground movies. I present to you: “The fantastic adventures of Unico” (in the US), “Unico” in Japan. As a unicorn apologist, you must see this movie. The self-named movie is about a young unicorn who helps a cat by turning her into a girl. The cat later meets a Prince, who is much like David Bowie in the Labyrinth, who becomes obsessed with her.
    Fun times? The cat often sings an innocent song that states “I’m just a cat! me-ow!” and the Prince takes 3/4 of the movie to figure out she’s not human.
    I wish you’d see this one, because I hope your attention will make it easier for me to find to own.
    Thank you.

  9. The Unico movies were licensed by Discotek in August of 2011, but have not yet been released on DVD. I fail to see how it has any relevance to the discussion thread of a kung fu film, though. This gets my vote for weirdest non sequitur comment to date.

  10. Hey Paul! Thanks for the awesome podcast, whenever you cover a kung fu moive like this its a tremendous treat for me. I love all things kung fu, I try and pick up the Comics One manhua graphic novels where I find them and love the Iron Fist comics too.

  11. Hi! Several-month listener, first time drunk commenter. I haven’t listened to this ‘cast yet, but I have a fond memory of Five Fingers despite never having seen it. When I was in college there was an art-film group that met and watched, y’know, art films. But we didn’t fast-forward through the previews, and just before a totally different kinda movie (Was it Sweetie, from the lady who did The Piano? Or Sugarbaby, about a tubby lady who finds true love with a hot guy? I don’t recall. Anyway, something sensitive) we saw a trailer for Five Fingers, and someone in the audience said “We shoulda rented Five Fingers of Death instead.” I didn’t exactly agree, but I did wanna put it on the list. The head of the group didn’t want such action-oriented films, tho. Now she works on films like American Psycho, so I guess she’s found room in her heart for mayhem.

  12. IRONSIDE starred Raymond Burr as former San Francisco PD Chief of Detectives Robert T. Ironside (not “Michael” Ironside, who’s a talented character actor specializing in psychotic villains and tough-as-nails bosses), who gets shot by a sniper in the spine in the pilot and is paraplegic for the duration of the series. He manages to get himself appointed “Special Department Consultant” which allows him, along with two cops and an ex-con he gets assigned to him, to go around solving crimes for eight years. In one of those twists that’s As Completely Realistic As the FBI Needing a Forensic Anthropologist on a Weekly Basis or A Mystery Writer Tags Along With a NYPD Detective Squad B/c He’s Hot For a Female Detective, the ex-con becomes a cop, and later an attorney, himself!

    While never a ratings-beater, the show did well enough to last eight years and be syndicated just about everywhere on Earth – so it’s likely that Quincy Jones’s “Funky Bernard Hermann”-type theme would have been readily recognized in China when the movie first came out in 1972, and definitely in the U.S. as it first played grindhouses and drive-ins while IRONSIDE was still on the air.

  13. Paul this is off topic but after repeated listening of the ponypocalyspe episode and prodding from a friend I am now a brony so thanks for spreading the heard scurge

  14. Thanks for suggesting 5 Fingers. Ive heard this title before but never watched it. Ill make sure to look for it now. If you liked this movie as a Dragon Dynasty release I suggest HEROES of the East. Its one of my personal favorites and easy to find for review. Gordon Liu + Yasuaki Kurata = Awesome! The husband and wife interaction is a nice touch as well. Please review this Paul you wont regret it. Crab Style!

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