Director – Wei Lo (Slaughter in San Francisco, Attack of the Kung Fu Girls)
Starring – Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon, Way of the Dragon), Nora Miao (The Big Boss, Naughty Naughty), and James Tien (Blade of Fury, Mr. Vampire II)
Release Date – 1972
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 3/5
Bruce Lee may not have created the Chinese kung fu explosion from the late 60s and early 70s but he did bring it to the mainstream making it a worldwide phenomenon. Lee was a worldwide superstar that brought Chinese cinema to other countries during a time when Japanese films were overtaking the markets. After his death we would see impersonators continue his legacy in what would later be termed Bruceploitation. I respect Lee and his legacy but I’ve always had a soft spot for Bruceploitation films and, a lot of times, I prefer them over Lee’s actual films. I’ve seen most of Lee’s films and though they are great movies I still prefer the cheesy and campy Bruceploitation films.
Sometime back Umbrella Entertainment announced their new line of films called Films of Fury. One of the films they released as part of this new line was 1972’s Fist of Fury that was also released under the title The Chinese Connection in American markets. It had been a long time since I last saw this film so I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send this one over. I was excited for this new line of films and revisiting this classic. I want to thank Umbrella Entertainment for sending this one over.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows Chen (Lee) who returns to his hometown to marry his fiancee when he discovers that his master is dead. He suspects that something strange was behind his death and his investigation leads him to a Japanese dojo that was his master’s biggest rival. Soon he finds himself fighting not only the racism the Chinese were facing by the Japanese but a clan of Japanese martial artists who was responsible for his master’s death. **Spoiler Alert**
Fist of Fury is not my favorite film starring Bruce Lee. In fact, it’s probably the weakest of his films but it still has some fun moments and a fairly forgettable story. The only reason this one is even remembered to this day is because he starred the legendary Lee. It’s fun to toss in with some other films of Lee or Bruceploitation but it’s not a movie that most people would recommend or stands out from the others. It’s a mediocre film and that’s being generous.
The acting in this one is exactly what you would expect from an early 70s film from Hong Kong. Lee hams it up on camera delivering his intense facial expressions and flashing his smile when the occasion arises. The supporting cast delivers decent performances at time and awkward performances at others. The characters are fairly generic and one dimensional with Lee being the only real stand out character.
The story for this one has no reason to be as long as it is. I know I’m tough on this one but it’s because there is so many other films that are better. Fist of Fury has a fairly simple and straight forward story that is predictable and mostly dull aside from the fight scenes. A lot could be trimmed from the film and the story would still make sense. It would help with the weird pacing the film has which would also help keep the viewer’s attention. It’s clearly just a vehicle to show off Lee which is a shame because later films of his had both story and his amazing martial arts skills.
Finally, the film has some light blood and a lot of fighting but if you are looking for a bloodbath then you will be disappointed. The fight scenes are a lot of fun with some great choreography but it could have been a lot bloodier. Overall, Fist of Fury is not a bad film but if you compare it to other Bruce Lee films you will find it floating around the bottom. The story is a bit of a bummer but the action makes up for it. This release from Umbrella is strictly for collectors and I highly recommend snagging a copy.
Feature documentary: Bruce Lee, the Legend
Interview with Yuen Wah
Interview Jun Natsumura, Nora Miao, Riki Hashimoto
Trailers Re-edit 4K Trailer, Cantonese Trailer, English Trailer, Mandarin Trailer