Bruce Lee conquered the American box office in the 1970s, but King Boxer was the film that paved the way for him and other kung fu movies to come.
Chao Chih-hao (Lo Lieh) is a martial arts disciple of Master Sung Wu-yang (Ku Wen-chung). Sung has been training Chao to win a local martial arts tournament, which will not only earn the winner a great deal of prestige, but apparently a sizable amount of cash. However, when Master Sung is almost killed by assailants one night, he fears he's an inadequate teacher for Chao, and sends him to learn from his colleague, Suen Hsin-pei (Fang Mien). Chao protests, as he wants to stay with his teacher - and his daughter, Ying-ying (Wong Ping) - but Sung insists. Upon his arrival, Suen tests Chao by matching him up against his top student, Han Lung (James Nam), in which Chao fares badly. Disdainful of Chao's skills after this, Suen instead puts him to work at his school, but is eventually won over by Chao's patience and willingness to learn. After a while, Suen trusts Chao not only to represent his school in the upcoming tournament, but with learning the powerful iron palm technique. However, Han Lung is ticket off about being usurped by Chao, and joins forces with the evil Master Meng (Tien Feng), a rival to both Suen and Sung. Meng dispatches his goons, including a Japanese mercenary named Okada (Chiu Hung), sending them to murder Chao's old master Sung out of spite. Next they attack Chao himself, breaking his hands so he supposedly can't practice martial arts anymore. However, through sheer willpower, Chao gets himself back into fighting shape and wins the tournament. Meng, being something of a bad sport, naturally murders Suen, and Chao must avenge both masters.