Fist of Fury, 1972.
Directed by Lo Wei.
Starring Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, Riki Hashimoto, Robert Baker, Tien Feng, Paul Wei, Monica Yi, Chung Hsin, and Haw Ying Chien.
Umbrella Entertainment has issued Bruce Lee’s classic Fist of Fury on Blu-ray in Region B, but it worked in my players here in the U.S., so it’s probably safe to assume that it’s an all-region release. Umbrella included a nice batch of extras, including an 88-minute documentary about Lee’s life and 50 minutes of interviews with some of his co-stars.
It’s been close to 50 years, if you can believe it, since Bruce Lee died, but his shadow still looms over the action film genre. Australia’s Umbrella Entertainment has started a “Films of Fury” line, with the first entry being Lee’s breakthrough, The Big Boss. Number two in the series is Fist of Fury, which cemented the actor and martial artist as a force to be reckoned with in the action film genre.
Lee stars as Chen Zhen, who has returned to the Jingwu School to marry his fiancée, Yuan Li’er, but is devastated to learn of the death of his master. When members of a rival Japanese dojo show up to mock the school’s students, Chen decides to take matters into his own hands and shows up at the dojo, where he defeats all of its students.
The Japanese students retaliate against their Chinese counterparts, and the advisor to the dojo’s grandmaster demands that Chen be turned over to them or they will all face arrest. The Chinese students decide to help Chen escape Shanghai, but when he learns how his master really died, he decides to avenge the murder.
Fist of Fury may not be remembered as fondly as Lee’s later films, which were worldwide smash hits and made him a bona fide superstar, but it still holds up today. The story moves at a quick clip and Lee’s moves are still a sight to behold. In addition, the movie takes on Japanese imperialism and has a lesson to impart about bigotry, which sadly continues to exist today.
Umbrella’s Blu-ray release of Fist of Fury has a Region B label on it, but it played without a hitch in my players here in the United States, so I assume it must be an all-region release. However, I can’t vouch for that fact, so you may want to make sure you have an all-region player on hand.
Umbrella included a nice batch of bonus features on the disc, starting with the 1984 documentary Bruce Lee: The Legend, which runs nearly an hour-and-a-half and traces the star’s life from his birth until his untimely death. The music and editing are very much of that era, and it lets clips from his films run a bit too long, but it’s still worth watching for fans who don’t know Lee’s full story.
In addition, there are 50 minutes worth of newer interviews with Lee’s co-stars Yuen Wah, Jun Natsumura, Nora Miao, and Riki Hashimoto. I’m not sure when they were filmed, but they’re clearly not from the 1980s. All of the participants recount their careers in the film industry and tell plenty of interesting stories from their time spent with Lee. The interviews are also worth watching, whether you’re a casual Bruce Lee fan or a hardcore one.
Finally, Umbrella included two alternate openings for the film, which was originally known as The Chinese Connection in the US because The Big Boss was called Fists of Fury in that country due to a mix-up. Those original names lingered for a long time before finally being rectified in more recent home video releases. There’s also an alternate ending that leaves Chen’s fate a little more nebulous.
A stills gallery and trailers round out the platter. There’s also a collectible postcard inside the Blu-ray case.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★