Monday, October 17, 2011

The Blind Boxer

                                                  Director: Cheung Sam
                                        Starring: Jason Pai Piao, Ingrid Hu

An early Basher from 1972 that despite containing all the generic trappings of the genre, manages to separate itself a bit by creating an unusual setback for our main hero as well as providing a faster and breezier pace than usual, courtesy of director Cheung Sam.

Jason Pai Piao plays Fong Man, a prominent member of a Chinese Boxing school run by his blind father/Instructor. The students are often distracted by national televised fights and are particularly enamored by the current champion, "Gorilla", who easily wins each of his bouts. The students want to enter, but their blind teacher knows better, "The matches are thrown. It's run by gangsters" he dismissively explains. One student however, secretly enters the contest anyway and finds the situation to be true. When he refuses to throw the fight (it ends in a draw) he is later killed in the streets by the gang's thugs. Fong (unbeknownst to his father) challenges Gorilla himself. Gorilla's gangster boss seeing Fong as a major threat, first attempts to win him over by having his floozy mistress "befriend" him. When she fails (predictably, she winds up falling for him), Fong is then attacked and blinded by more of the gang's thugs. Embarrassed and ashamed, Fong fesses up to his father who in return, teaches his son his special 'Blind" technique in order to defeat Gorilla.

Though on the surface Blind Boxer appears to merely go through the rock-em, sock-em paces, I was intrigued by both it's frankness (the blind teacher explaining that the fights are rigged as well as when Fong realizes the mistress was a plant, but sleeps with her anyway) as well as it's occasional subtelty (the slain fighter's sister interestingly underplayed by Ingrid Hu is clearly in love with Fong, but never does more than quietly give him an encouraging hug or a knowing glance). As these typically noisy bashers go, it's these moments that stuck in my head afterwards.

The action itelf is decent. There's lots of ring fighting. Normally I'm not that into tournament style action, but they are handled with zest and are fairly exciting to watch. The finale in which our heroes raid the baddies pad, makes for a suitably satisfying headknocker.

The Blind Boxer makes for recommended viewing for Basher fans. It's basic story is just different enough (with a definite 1940s Warner Bros. feel) and it's characters are given just enough depth to seperate this from so many others of this time period.

                                                           **1/2 / ****


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