Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fist of Fury (1972) Review

Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury poster
Director: Lo Wei
Stars: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao
Genre: Kung Fu

There's a lot of confusion between the actual names of this film and Bruce Lee's previous film The Big Boss. Fist of Fury is also commonly referred to as The Chinese Connection or The Iron Hand. For information about the name confusion refer here and here. I often call it The Chinese Connection because that's the name I grew up using (and the name that all of America grew up using until about 2005) but it seems to be that more and more people are beginning to accept it as Fist of Fury so I intend to do the same.

The plot concerns Bruce Lee and some bad guys. I'm sure you can figure out the rest.

The plot of this film is perhaps a bit better than The Big Boss, or at least more original. But it's also a bit slower paced. There's really not much action for the majority of the film. The first 60 minutes or so are actually really boring. It isn't until the last 30 minutes that things start to get really good with lots of cool fights and stuff. Granted there is a pretty cool fight scene towards the beginning but for long periods it's actually very disappointing.

There's a lot of drama in this one, particularly between the martial arts schools, and there's even a bit more romance thrown in than usual.

The fighting though is great, both in choreography and in performance. Bruce Lee definitely feels more like a superstar in this one. I don't want to spoil anything but there's some pretty awesome kills in this one and every fight scene does something a bit different than the last. 

Hiroshi Suzuki and Petrov aren't really as intimidating opponents as the main villain in The Big Boss was, but they're still pretty solid (Petrov especially). Aside from that though you'll see a lot of the same faces from The Big Boss.

Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury

This film was perhaps even more influential than  Lee's previous, propelling him higher into fame and replacing Japan's Chambara films with Kung Fu. In some regards I feel that this is worse than The Big Boss but at the same time I feel it's better in a lot of ways. All in all I regard them of about equal quality.

Bruce Lee vs Katana in Fist of Fury

One thing I'd like to comment on is the character of Chen Zhen (played here by Bruce Lee) and the sequels to this film. The four kings of Kung Fu are generally regarded to be Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Donnie Yen. Four kings. There also happen to be four Fist of Fury films. Each one of them star a different king of kung fu. Bruce Lee in Fist of Fury (1972), Jackie Chan in New Fist of Fury (1976), Jet Li in Fist of Legend (1994), and Donnie Yen in Legend of the Fist (2010); each one of them playing the character of Chen Zhen. There's really no point I'm trying to make here but isn't it interesting that all four of the great have played the same character? (Technically Jackie Chan played the successor to Chen Zhen but you get the point).

Dancer in Fist of Fury 1972

Bruce Lee kicks ass again! Essential viewing for fans of the genre and the man himself Bruce.

3/5 stars

Purchase Fist of Fury on Amazon: Blu-Ray - DVD - Bruce Lee Collection
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