Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fist of Fury (1972)

Fist of Fury (Hong Kong, 1972) - Color, Director(s): Wei Lo
[a.k.a. The Chinese Connection]
MPAA Rating: R
Approx. 107 min.

Z-rating: 8 out of 10 stars

This is one of the most influential films by Bruce Lee and serves as the original inspiration for the film Fist of Legend. Bruce Lee plays Chen Zhen who, upon returning home, receives news that his teacher has passed away from illness. Distraught by the news, he rushes over to the site where his master is being buried and claws away at the dirt atop his coffin until he is knocked out with a shovel and dragged out. Shortly after the funeral, a group of Japanese martial artists from a nearby Bushido school enters Jingwu and issues an open challenge. When their challenge isn't met, they present the school with a sign bearing the words "Sick Men of East Asia" and promise to eat their words should a worthy challenger appear. Chen Zhen goes to return the sign to their school and tosses everyone a beating while he's there. Reminding everyone that Chinese people aren't sick men, he forces two of the instructors to eat the paper those words are written on. Chen Zhen takes a stroll to clear his head but is met by racism at the park when a guard would not allow him to enter. Pointing at the sign that reads "No dogs and Chinese allowed". A Japanese man and his buddies come up and try to dog Chen Zhen (literally) but get their asses beat for it. Meanwhile, Jingwu is attacked by the Bushido school who demand that Chen Zhen be turned over to them. Realizing the mess he's caused, Chen Zhen decides to flee but overhears two men discussing the death of their master. Finding out that his beloved teacher was poisoned, Chen Zhen lashes out and beats the two responsible men to death in a blind rage. After questioning and killing the Japanese translator as well, the Bushido school is enraged and murder everyone at Jingwu in retaliation. Chen Zhen seeks revenge against the Bushido school where he faces the chubby instructor wielding a katana, a hand-to-hand battle with a Russian fighter, and ultimately culminating to a final showdown between Chen Zhen and the headmaster of the Japanese dojo.

Nudity: A sexy geisha performs an erotic dance to entertain the head of the Bushida school and guests. She takes off her panties and you get to see a brief shot of her crotch and a longer shot of her ass. (Her top comes off as well but her nipples are covered up.

Gore: Blood but no gore. Not as bloody or violent as his last film, The Big Boss, but there are instances where blood spurts from the head of Bushido students as they're hit by Bruce Lee's nunchucks.

Awesome: VERY. This film revolutionized how martial arts were portrayed on the big screen. Up until this time, Chinese kung-fu films mostly involved swordplay (wuxia) but this film began a wave of empty-handed fighting films and kick-started the "Golden Era of Kung-Fu Cinema" during the 1970's. One thing that I wish they would've kept in the remake was the fact that Chen Zhen was a Master of Disguise in this movie!!! Add to that, the man's got superhuman strength. (He lifts and helicopter spins two full grown men, one in each arm. He can also lift a rickshaw with the Japanese translator inside and tosses them both aside like they were almost weightless)

If you enjoyed this film, I would recommend checking out the remake by Jet Li called Fist of Legend. One thing I have to warn everyone NOT to do is to fall for the Donnie Yen made-for-TV series. I picked up a copy in Chinatown thinking to myself, it's a remake of a Bruce Lee movie starring Donnie Yen... how can it possibly be bad? Well, it was. The TV show was such garbage, it involved a lot of cheap special effects and fast-forwarding of the footage to make the actors appear as though they are faster than they really are. Total GARBAGE, that shit was unbearable. With the recent success of Donnie Yen's Ip Man however, they are releasing a sequel to the TV series called Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen. Let's hope that with a bigger budget and more recognizable faces that this will at least be watchable.