Monday, November 22, 2010

The Big Boss (1971)

The Big Boss (Hong Kong, 1971) - Color, Director(s): Wei Lo
[a.k.a. Fists of Fury]
MPAA Rating: R
Approx. 100 min.

Z-rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Bruce Lee plays Cheng Chao-An, a recent emigrant from the Guangdong province who arrives in Thailand looking for work at the local ice factory. Meeting up with his uncle and cousin, he gets a tour of the small town from his cousin, Hsu Chien, before getting into a couple of fights. Cheng wears a jade pendant around his neck to remind him of a promise he made to his mother never to fight again. Luckily, Hsu Chien seems fully capable of handling his own in a fight. Once on the job though, Cheng accidentally drops a block of ice revealing that drugs are being smuggled through the ice blocks. The manager of the factory tries to pay off anyone that saw the drugs but when the two workers won't take the bribe, the manager and his men murder them and chop up their bodies in the factory. When they don't return to work the next day, Hsu Chien questions the manager as to their whereabouts. Getting the feeling that they're just getting the runaround, Hsu Chien demands to see "the boss" and question him personally regarding the whereabouts of the two missing workers. When Hsu Chien doesn't return the next day, the workers refuse to work until Hsu Chien shows up. The workers revolt, which leads to a big fight where Cheng is caught in the middle. Trying to hold back as long as he can, his jade pendant is inadvertently shattered, forcing Cheng's hands in the matter. To earn his trust and his favor, the manager makes Cheng the new foreman after he kicks a little ass at the fight. Providing only a brief distraction, Cheng soon begins questioning the whereabouts of Hsu Chien after pressure from his housemates starts working on his conscience. Deciding to go out and investigate the ice factory, he finds the drugs hidden in the ice as well as the bodies of the missing people. Cheng is confronted by the son of "the boss" and must fight his way past them in order to get to... The Big Boss.

Without a doubt one of the most violent Bruce Lee films, The Big Boss is not what I would've expected from Lee. First off, the choreography in this film was atrocious!! What was up with the Power Ranger flips over everyone's head? I know that Bruce Lee's later films emphasized a sense of realism over shoddy camera tricks, so it's no surprise that this is one of Bruce Lee's earliest martial arts films. (Probably before he got as big as he did.) On the bright side, you get to see a young Lam Ching-Ying and Peter Chan Lung before they got big too. I also didn't expect there to be as much violence as there was. Not that I'm complaining, I love violence just as much as the next guy.

Nudity: A Thai prostitute's boobs are shown right before she gets it on with Cheng's passed out body.

Gore: I wouldn't call this movie gory as there were any guts being spilled but I must admit that I didn't expect as much blood as there was. Pleasantly surprised.

Awesome: I have to give props to this film as there were a bunch of notable faces before they were big and it IS the first of four Bruce Lee films after all. While I have mad respect for Bruce Lee and his films, this is probably the weakest of his films in my opinion. With that being said, anyone who calls themselves a Bruce Lee fan MUST see this film.

I have embedded the film below, please enjoy it in honor of the man... Bruce Lee.