The Swordsman Of All Swordsmen / The Mystery of Chess Boxing (Blu-ray, Double Bill)

An action-packed double feature from the celebrated master of wuxia cinema, Joseph Kuo!

On Blu-ray for the first time ever in the UK as a part of the Eureka Classics range, presented from brand new 2K restorations.

“The Swordsman Of All Swordsmen” / “The Mystery of Chess Boxing” Double Bill is OUT NOW from Eureka Video and Amazon!



The Swordsman of all Swordsmen

A prolific actor in Taiwanese and Hong Kong movies throughout the 1960s and 70s, Tien Peng stars as “Tsai Ying-Jie”, the titular swordsman. He appeared in director King Hu’s classic films “Dragon Gate Inn” and “A Touch of Zen”, as well as the popular “18 Bronzemen” films and “Legend of the Broken Sword”.

Taiwanese actress and martial artist Polly Shang-Kuan Ling-Feng stars as “Flying Swallow”. Debuting in “Dragon Gate Inn”, she received the 1973 Golden Horse Award for Best Leading Actress for the film “Back Alley Princess aka A Heroic Fight”. Other notable appearances include “The Bravest Revenge”, “Hand of Death”, “Chinese Amazons” and “18 Bronzemen”.

Actor and occasional director Chiang Nan plays “Black Dragon”, with Tsao Chien as “Yun Zhong-Jun” and Miao Tian as “Chow Hu”.

The Mystery of Chess Boxing

Lee Yi Min stars as “Ah Pao”. He appeared in several cult kung fu films including “The 7 Grandmasters”, “The Brave Archer”, “Drunken Arts and Crippled Fist”, and “World of the Drunken Master”. Jack Long appears as the chess master “Chi Sue Tin”, with Mark Long Kuan Yu featuring as the “Ghost-Faced Killer”.

Jeanie Chang Yung-Yung plays as Chi Sue Tin’s granddaughter.

The Drunken Master himself, Yuen Siu-tien, father of the legendary Yuen clan of martial arts stunt performers and choreographers, that includes Yuen Woo-ping, stars as “Master Yuen the Cook”.

Trained in Peking Opera, he began his acting career in 1949 at the age of 37, in the first Wong Fei-hung film to star Kwan Tak-hing, “Story of Wong Fei-hong”.

He would gain international fame as the eccentric martial arts master Pai Chang-tien in Jackie Chan’s breakthrough movie, “Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow”.

He followed this up with his defining role as the sozzled Beggar So/Su in 1978’s “Drunken Master”. Due to international variations in credits, subtitles and dubbing Yuen Siu-tien was also known by many as Simon Yuen, Sam Seed, or Ol’ Dirty.

Rapper and founding member of the hip hop group Wu Tang Clan took his name Ol’ Dirty Bastard from one of Yuen’s final films, “Ol’ Dirty & The Bastard”.


The Swordsman of All Swordsmen (1968)

Having witnessed the brutal slaying of his entire family as a small child, Tsai Ying-jie spends several years wandering in search of those responsible.

After years in training, he intends to use his expert swordsmanship to exact violent revenge on Yun Chun-chung and his four accomplices, who murdered his father in order to obtain a legendary weapon known as the Spirit Chasing Sword.

However, after dispatching several rival swordsmen that stand in the way of his righteous vengeance, Tsai comes to contemplate the futile nature of revenge after Yun Chun-chung’s daughter, Flying Swallow, saves his life.

The Mystery of Chess Boxing (1979)

Original Trailer

A young boy, Ah Pao, who wants to learn kung fu so that he can avenge his father’s death at the hands of the Ghost Faced Killer.

The Ghost Faced Killer meanwhile is hunting down a number of clan leaders who all conspired to have him killed.

Ah Pao attends a local kung fu school, but is bullied by the seniors. However, the school’s cook, Master Yuen helps the boy and teaches him some kung fu but admits that he will never be good enough.

Still wishing to learn kung fu, he turns to an old xiangqi (also known as Chinese chess) master Chi Sue Tin, recommended by the cook, for training. The master is an old enemy of the Ghost Faced Killer and agrees to teach Lee his chess boxing kung fu.


The Swordsman Of All Swordsmen


Our first look at the action is, not surprisingly, a sword fight. Initially our hero fights off several foes before some one on one action.

For an early wuxia piece, the choreography is pretty grounded and very well filmed.

THE SWORDSMAN OF ALL SWORDSMEN “A beheaded weed will return if you don’t rip out its roots” Clip

A flashback introduces the four villains in a more bloody and brutal standoff. A common way to keep costs down was film much of the action in the countryside. This movie is no exception with the beautiful Taiwanese hills and mountains providing a backdrop. And of course it wouldn’t be a kung fu film without a fight in a teahouse!

Female lead Polly Shang-Kuan Ling-Feng is no slouch in the swordplay department either, as she slices and dices her way through a group of bad guys.

The final duels are very noble, chivalrous affairs, again, beautifully framed and filmed.


Aside from the more grounded choreography the most striking thing about this film is the cinematography.

There are long, one take dolly shots, slow intense zooms, beautiful sunlit silhouettes on a beach, POV shots and more. It really is one of the best shot films of the genre.

The Mystery of Chess Boxing

A classic red-backed opening credits sequence has the lead actors performing a mix of traditional kung fu, ditangquan and pure acrobatics.

As soon as they finish we are straight into a fight with the legendary Ghost Faced Killer. The choreography is very fast and acrobatic, edited with lots of rapid cuts.

Our Jackie Chan-alike hero has a very Jackie Chan-alike acrobatic kung fu comedy scene when he tries to enrol in a martial arts school.

The legend that is Yuen Siu Tien makes his entry in a very entertaining, intricately choreographed sequence in a kitchen using all the furniture, rice bowls and chopsticks!

Our hero soon learns some fresh moves from the old master and gets to demonstrate his new skills against his bully of a senior student.

As we build up to the inevitable showdown, the villain gets to show off his very acrobatic style against various opponents, probably most impressively against a pole fighter played by Jimmy Wang.

Boldly wearing the influence of Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow/Drunken Master on its sleeve, there are various inventive, tortuous training sequences that our hero is put through.

As the training turns to sparring, there are some very impressive choreographed sequences that could genuinely rival sequences in the Jackie Chan films.

Due to being remastered from the only known surviving materials available, The Mystery of Chess Boxing is presented with burnt-in-subtitles. However, I found having the burned in subtitles adds to the nostalgia for those of us old enough to remember the VHS presentations of these films.


This is a great double bill of movies, that contrasts the wuxia style of the late 1960s movies with the lighter-hearted acrobatic action of the late 1970s.

Extra features include audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng and film writer John Charles for “The Swordsman of All Swordsmen”, as well as commentaries for “The Mystery of Chess Boxing” from Frank Djeng, this time joined by martial artist and filmmaker Michael Worth, or the familiar double act of action cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema.

The classic English dub on “Chess Boxing” is great for the nostalgic or those of you who like to trainspot hip hop samples!

THE SWORDSMAN OF ALL SWORDSMEN (Eureka Classics) Unboxing Video

“The Swordsman of All Swordsmen” showcases director Joseph Kuo in a more artistic light, following in the footsteps of King Hu and Chang Cheh, with some great cinematography in a chivalrous tale about the nature of revenge.

“The Mystery of Chess Boxing” is a great old school classic, with Kuo demonstrating his ability to produce entertaining crowd-pleasers.

Eureka once again delivers another must-see for fans of classic Chinese cinema.


  • Following hot on the heels of the hugely successful “Dragon Gate Inn” and “One Armed Swordsman”, “The Swordsman of All Swordsmen” was a box office smash in Taiwan.
  • “The Mystery of Chess Boxing” was released as “Ninja Checkmate” in some territories due to the craze for ninja-themed movies in the early video rental days.
  • The Wu-Tang Clan song “Da Mystery of Chessboxin'”, which appears on their 1993 album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), derives its title from “The Mystery of Chess Boxing”. Additionally, Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah derived his stage name from the film’s villain, the Ghost-Faced Killer.
Swordsman of all Swordsmen - Mystery of Chess Boxing - KUNG FU KINGDOM

Swordsman of all Swordsmen – Mystery of Chess Boxing – KUNG FU KINGDOM

Film Rating: 8/10

“The Swordsman Of All Swordsmen” / “The Mystery of Chess Boxing” Blu-ray, Double Bill is OUT NOW from Eureka Video and Amazon!

What an amazing double-trouble bill of old-school classics! What other kung fu flicks from the 70’s era would you like to see restored and re-released? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter & Instagram!

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Glen Stanway

Influenced by the movies of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, Glen began training in martial arts and gymnastics in 1995. He made his first of many visits to Malaysia and Singapore in 1998 to learn Chin Woo kung fu under the supervision of Master Teng Wie Yoo. Glen is the author of "The Art of Coaching" and "Fearless The Story of Chin Woo Kung Fu", and runs a kung fu & kickboxing school in Hertfordshire, England.

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