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King Boxer (5 Fingers of Death)

original title: Tian Xia Di Yi Quan


  • Celestial-Version (e.g. US DVD)
  • Arrow Video Blu-ray
Release: Jan 07, 2022 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Muck47 - external link: IMDB

Comparison between the German Blu-ray from Koch Media (identical to the Japanese Blu-ray by Twin/Paramount and several DVD releases worldwide, e.g. the US DVD by Dragon Dynasty) and the 2021 British Blu-ray from Arrow Video

Available in the UK since 20th December 2021 and US since 28th December 2021 from aficionado label Arrow Video, the box set entitled "Shawscope Vol. 1" is a must-have for any fan of Asian action cinema. Included are 12 films from the legendary Shaw Brothers studio, plus lots of newly produced bonus material and a 60-page book. Version-wise, the original cut of Chinatown Kid, finally restored for the first time, is a special feature. This one's even a bit longer than previously available on VHS. There are also 6 other films (so including Chinatown Kid it's 7 titles) available for the first time in new restorations from Arrow Video. The other 5 films are the same as Celestial's versions, already released on other Blu-rays worldwide.

Those who are somewhat familiar with the Shaw films should know that the versions on DVD and Blu-ray, which have been in common use worldwide since the mid-2000s, often have "framecuts". The Asian rights holder Celestial messed this up during the restoration: frames around the splices between individual shots or fractions damaged for whatever reasons were rigorously cut instead of carefully reconstructing the moments or simply leaving them as they were. Depending on the length of the film, this resulted in a loss of up to 5 minutes of running time, which is hardly noticeable during normal viewing. Fights in particular, however, often seem a bit jerky due to the quick shots being cut further for a few frames each. Annoyingly, some shots were also completely lost from time to time. That's why it was so exciting to see what the 7 new Arrow restorations might finally reveal in comparison to previous versions.

King Boxer is included on disc 1 in the set. It was initially released as 5 Fingers of Death in the US by Warner, becoming the first major Shaw title with success at the box office outside of Asia. The US DVD release by Dragon Dynasty used the Celestial restoration. The running time difference here is immediately noticeable:

  •  Previous Celestial master. 101:36 min (Koch Media Blu-ray at 23.976 fps) or 97:26 min (various PAL DVDs at 25fps and Blu-rays in 25i)
  • 2021 restoration from Arrow Video: 105:56 min (Arrow Video Blu-ray at 23.976 fps)

Minus Arrow's missing references to Celestial at the beginning/end, the new restoration is 4:43 minutes longer. At least we can state after a detailed comparison: These are almost without exception irrelevant, classic "framecuts". Almost every shot is a few insignificant frames longer, without there being anything exciting for the viewer to discover.

As with the report on The Boxer of Shantung, however, there is at least one shot that is completely missing. Much more often, more than 2 seconds in the beginning/end of shots are lost at a time. We also mentioned these somewhat longer missing moments. All not too spectacular. Nevertheless, it is nice to be able to see the film in its complete form again for the first time since the VHS days.

Running time details are arranged according to the scheme
Koch Media Blu-ray / Arrow Video Blu-ray

The introductory logo of the framecuts perpetrators from Celestial is consequently missing from the new Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

Note: It does, however, come separately before the film file.

+ 11 sec

04:14 / 04:12-04:15

The first close-up of the meal starts much earlier.

2.7 sec

05:06 / 05:08-05:11

The long shot at the beginning of the fight is much longer. You can see various other steps taken by the two competitors.

3 sec

08:45 / 08:56-08:59

Yen rests her head longer on Zhao's shoulder and turns it away to the side.

Note: In the 60th/62nd minute this can be seen again in a shortened flashback. At this moment, the head movement can also be seen in the old Celestial Master.

2.4 sec

19:17 / 19:54-19:57

For the scene transition, a shot of the moon can be seen here briefly. This shot is the first/only one that is missing completely in the better-known Celestial Master.

2.7 sec

38:10 / 39:37-39:40

At the end and beginning of two shots, Zhao jams his fingers into the hot stones one more time.

2.4 sec

40:41 / 42:05-42:10

Zhao and Yen go round in circles much earlier.

4.9 sec

52:30 / 54:33-54:36

The shot of Zhao is clearly longer before you see the letter in close-up.

2.6 sec

53:03 / 55:12

Actually just a typical framecut, but it's a striking moment: When Zhao throws the spear at an opponent who is jumping at him from above, the shot starts a little earlier. It is thus clearer to see how the guy is hit by the spear.

0.3 sec

59:31 / 61:56-61:58

In the Celestial-Master, the shot only begins when the door is already completely open. In the Arrow version, it is still closed at the beginning.

1.5 sec

101:11-101:23 / 105:40-105:55

The last shot (walking away through the alley) is much longer. As on previous VHS releases, a small jumpcut can be noticed. Here the end credit begins to fade in and there is a soft transition to the last shot of the sun.

In the Celestial master, the fade-in was used way earlier. Additionally some slow motion was applied to hide this. The end credit shown here differs from Arrow's original version and it appears only very briefly.

Arrow Video 3 sec longer

Koch Media Blu-rayArrow Video Blu-ray

After the end credit, there are no more references to Celestial, as in the beginning of the film.

+ 12 sec

Packshot of the British Blu-ray box by Arrow Video