This is an insult to the legacy of Bruce Lee. It has nothing to do with Lee’s original concept for ‘Game of Death,’ save for the butchered 11 minutes of Lee’s original footage. The plot of this garbage: martial arts actor Billy Lo (NOT played by Bruce Lee, just 2 other actors in shades!) is shot, so he fakes his death and seeks to wreak vengeance on those who conspired to kill him. It’s basically the plot of ‘The Crow’ and features a scene the prefigures how Brandon Lee died. To disguise the fact that Lee had nothing to do with this film (as he was dead), the editors splice footage from Lee’s other films into the film (and, at one point, laughably use a CUTOUT of Lee’s face on a mirror!) and actually uses footage from Lee’s REAL funeral (despicable, no?).
It’s an absolute travesty of a film. Save from a silly but entertaining motorbike action sequence and the butchered 11 minutes footage of Lee’s original footage, there’s nothing to salvage this garbage. Simply watch the re-edited version of Lee’s original footage instead.
Can any of Bruce Lee’s films be considered great? Although I’m a big Bruce Lee fan, I’d say no. They are carried by the fight scenes alone. ‘Enter The Dragon’ is no exception, but at least it’s a decent film outside of the fight scenes. The increase in production values helps as well. This was Lee’s first (and last) major role in a Hollywood film. The plot is a B-level Bond story, but involving a Shaolin Monk (Lee, as, well Lee!) instead of James Bond and a martial arts tournament. It moves along at a swift pace, and has a toe-tapping soundtrack. Of course, whenever Lee’s fists and feet start flying, the excitement reaches heavenly levels. The film starts with a taster: Lee v a young Sammo Hung (and also an insight into Lee’s philosophy: “Don’t think, FEEL!”). But the most ferocious and entertaining fight scene in Lee vs goons in the cave, where he utilizes nunchuks and a bo as well as his limbs to fend of a horde of attackers.
The film may well be remembered for the ‘Hall of Mirrors’ fight scene that concludes the film, but apart from looking fantastic, it’s a subdued affair (due to the big bad guy being Shih Ken, around 60 years old at the time). Still, Lee’s finest film, one that you can watch the whole way through without wanting to skip to the fight scenes!
Lo Wei and the cast of ‘The Big Boss’ improve and fix some of the flaws of their first film with ‘Fist of Fury.’ Sure, the melodrama and implausible plot turns are still there, but on the whol the story is more engaging and the acting more solid, than in ‘The Big Boss.’ Also, Lee as Chen Zhen kicks ass within 15 minutes of the film starting! There’s little build-up, but it’s ample enough (a Chinese man slapping and provoking Chen). But that first fight scene…what a scene. Perhaps one of cinema’s best fight scenes. Chen takes out an entire school of karate students in an extended and superbly choreographed fight scene. We are then made to wait and wade through Chen disguising himself several times before another superb fight scene, which is deflated by a dull conclusion. However, that final shot of Chen jumping towards the police (and the screen) with a flying kick in PHENOMENAL
Of course, Lee is the star here, looking even more impressive and fluid than in ‘The Big Boss.’ His acting seems less stiff as well. In terms of fight scenes, ‘Fist of Fury’ contains perhaps the purest and best fight scenes of Lee’s career. I could take or leave the story and characters, but the fight scenes…oh, the fight scenes!
Hammy’s Rating: 3/5
Memorable Scene: Chen taking out an entire school of karate students!
Memorable Quote: ‘Eat. This time you’re eating paper. Next time it’s going to be glass.’
I’ve watched this film plenty of times, but its only on this viewing that I realized Bruce Lee directed and wrote it as well as starring in it! That hasn’t changed how I feel about the film. The story and characters are as superfluous and flimsy as the cardboard Colosseum backgrounds at the end of the film. The first half hour is taken up by shots of Rome’s tourist attractions and awkward humour involving Bruce Lee’s Tang Lung drinking soup and needing the toilet.
Lee makes us wait for his first fight scene…and, as always, it’s another cracking fight scene! We get not one nunchaku, but two nunchakus! Even in contemporary Rome, there’s as excuse for the mafia not to use guns. The film also strains itself to place great importance on Lee’s character. However, this film is all about one fight: Lee v Chuck Norris! It’s one of cinema’s great one-on-one fight scenes, a gladiatorial bout set in the Colosseum. It shows Lee was unparalleled in filming and choreographing fight scenes. A perfect fight scene…and one of the only reasons to watch this film!
HAMMY’s RATING: 3/5
MEMORABLE SCENE: LEE v NORRIS!
MEMORABLE QUOTE: ‘If I ever see him here again…HE WON’T LEAVE ALIVE!’
This is a rough, ready showcase for Bruce Lee. Being his first martial arts film, we are left waiting (and waiting) for Bruce, as Cheng Chao-an to start kicking ass. He can’t kiss ass (in the storyline) due to a vague promise he made to his mum about non-violence. Lee is the shining star amongst a sea of melodrama, over-acting, awkward editing and a meandering storyline (perhaps the poor editing is a result of the many cuts the film has received over the years). This would have been forgotten in the sands of time had it not been for Bruce Lee. He captures the viewer’s attention immediately and even though his acting sometimes leaves a lot to be desired, his fight scenes push ‘The Big Boss’ into a higher realm. It’s worth the long wait to see Cheng Chao-an break his promise and finally start kicking some ass.
And boy, does he kick ass in a unique, beautiful, breath-taking way. Unfortunately, some of these fight scenes are marred by moments of silliness (i.e. Cheng Chao-an punching a man through a wall, leaving a man-shaped hole in the wall) and plenty of gravity-defying leaps. There are also plenty of unintentionally hilarious moments.
But you watch Bruce Lee films for the fight scenes, don’t you? And Bruce provides some of his most underrated fight scenes in his first martial arts film.
Hammy’s Rating: 2/5
MEMORABLE SCENES: When Cheng Chao-an breaks his promise to his mother and fights!
GREAT CUT FROM POSH DINNER TO POOR DINNER
MEMORABLE QUOTE: ‘Beat it or I will kill you right now’