A Noodle Western
Having left China and arrived in America full of hope Shanghai Joe (Chen Lee) soon discovers the harsh truth as he is met with racism where ever he goes. Joe a controlled man finally has enough of the abuse and snaps, unleashing a martial art butt kicking on those causing him and some Mexican's distress. But in doing so it leads to a businessman to hire an assassin to try to kill Joe.
"Shanghai Joe" or "The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe" as it is also known starts in 1880 something in St. Francisco, yes St. Francisco not San Francisco. But I was far too distracted by other things to care as a street scene featured Joe helping two kinds crack a coconut and in the background was a 70s looking shop sign saying "Climax". That wasn't the only out of place sign which littered the scene and soon "Shanghai Joe" became less about how good it was as a movie and more how many things could I spot which were wrong with this East meets West Spaghetti western and there were plenty.
But rather than spend time pointing out all the period abnormalities I will focus on the movie itself and it is straight forward enough with Joe suffering racist abuse in the West such as having to ride on the back of the Stagecoach. Eventually he has enough and it is a case that he ends up fighting bad guys where we discover he is a master of a special type of martial arts. It has to be said that it is a very violent form of martial arts and there are scenes such as an eye gouging which may have been the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino. The thing is that as a movie "Shanghai Joe" is not great and is incredibly staged but there is something which is entertaining about a martial arts expert kicking butt in the West.
Now I have to say that "Shanghai Joe" is the sort of movie which is forgettable and the sort of movie which you could find yourself watching and suddenly thinking that maybe you have seen it before. That is what happened to me as I have a suspicion I watched this as a young teen in the 80s because are hero Joe has a ball on a piece of elastic which he uses as a weapon which ended up ringing a few bells for me. He also puts nails through wood with his bare hands and back flips on to a horse all of which seem strangely familiar whilst also cheesy as hell.
What this all boils down to is that "Shanghai Joe" might appeal to those with a deep love of 70s Spaghetti westerns but for anyone else is one of those movies which are more entertaining for being bad than actually good.