Director: Guan Shan
Starring: Ray Liu, Chen Sing, Tanny Tien Ni, Guan Shan, Mars
'Brutal Boxer' was at one time a 'lost' film and under it's U.S. title, 'Blood Fingers' became a favorite among old school kung fu enthusiasts who were lucky enough to catch it in theaters way back when and remembered it as one of the bloodiest and nastiest 'bashers' they had ever seen.
Shot in Thailand, our story concerns two brothers, Hsaio and Wu Cheng (Ray Liu and director Guan Shan) who are searching for their uncle. They stop at a restaraunt that they mistakenly think said uncle owns. Finding out too late that he doesn't and unable to pay their bill (never a good thing), they are besieged by the thugs that run it. When the twosome are able to fight the gand off, their skills are recognized by the crooked owner, King Chan (Chen Sing) who hires them and offers to assisst in finding the missing relative. Unsurpringly, the uncle along with his son, Chin (Mars) turns out to be resisting paying 'protection' money to the King and is under constant harassment. This of course, causes the two brothers to have a change of heart. To further complicate matters, King Chan's daughter has fallen for Wu.
So does the film live up to it's nearly legendary, bloody rep? In a way, yes it does. While the bloodletting isn't by the bucket load as the average Chang Cheh directed film of it's time, 'Brutal Boxer' features the type of ooey-gooey gore and crudely graphic makeup effects that are more often found in horror films. It plays like a fairly standard basher throughout it's running time, but truly earns it's keep in the incredible fifteen minute finale, where it gives Cheh's 'Boxer from Shangtung' a run for it's money in the bloody body count department. The actual fighting is some of the better and certainly most intense that I have seen from a film of this period.
Ray Liu makes for an appropriate 'pretty boy' hero who effectively cuts loose at the drop of a hat (his killing method is sticking his 'blood fingers' 'into' his opponent). Mars proves here as he had in 'The Rats' (reviewed elsewhere in this blog) to be a top fighter/stuntman, even at this early stage. His fighting actually outshines Liu's, but due to his odd looks, he was destined never to play the lead. Chen Sing is an absolute terror here. One of the baddest fighters to ever appear in Hong Kong cinema, Chen can amp up the intensity of an action sequence like no other. The film has (rather unfortunately) been marketed as an early Jackie Chan vehicle, disappointing many when they discover that he was merely a background extra. In truth, you would be hard pressed to spot him at all.
Overall despite it's admittedly depressing low budget, 'Brutal Boxer' with it's incredible finale is a solid 'basher' and worth seeking out for kung fu fans who like their action down, dirty and just plain nasty.