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4.8 out of 5 stars18
4.8 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 11 July 2007
Bruce Lee roared onto the big screen in 1971 when he made his first film (as an adult), 'The Big Boss'. Much like other kung-fu flicks, it's more a showcase of the star's talents rather than an example of good filmmaking.

Young migrant worker Cheng arrives in Thailand to start a job at an ice factory with other Chinese. It seems like everyday there's a punch-up between the Chinese workers and the Thai foremen, and when two men discover drugs in the ice, they are killed. It falls on Cheng to investigate his "brother"s disappearance but he is quickly overwhelmed by the hospitality of his employers and loses focus. Realising his mistake, Cheng decides to take revenge and confront... The Big Boss.

This is Bruce Lee's first and most bloody kung-fu film. The way in which characters are killed off is very violent and even macabre, with the ice factory playing a big part. What the film is most memorable for is the device of having it's star do very little for half the film. Cheng had made a promise to his mother never to get into trouble, meaning he simply stands by and takes his knocks without retaliation. Its a great idea and teases the audience until he finally snaps into action, unleashing his powerful kicks and punches.

What's great about the film is that it has a pulpy, trashy quality with its silly "erotic" moments and hokey visuals. In one sequence, a man is knocked through a wall and his outline remains. Another occasion sees the title character throw his birdcage up onto a branch while he fights Cheng. It's so daft that it's actually quite funny and adds to the charm.

Another reason the film works is because it improves throughout. The fight scenes are actually pretty poor to begin with (with Lee not fighting) and later on, each set-piece involving Cheng is better than the last. The final showdown between Cheng and the Big Boss is fast, violent and quite lengthy. Also, the fight is rather symbolic with newcomer Lee taking on the veteran kung-fu actor - becoming more of a passing-the-baton moment.

The one slight problem I have with the film is that the cantonese soundtrack (which is better than english of course) has a different score. The english dubbed version has an awesome theme tune which you might miss if you're used to it. But at least you have the option to watch either. Also, the Bey Logan commentary (which ISN'T on the platinum edition) is worth the purchase and is very insightful and relaxed.

On the whole, The Big Boss is very watchable and apart from some slow sections is a great breakthrough film for its star.
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on 30 January 2001
After so many years of awkwardly cut, low-quality video releases of Bruce Lee's film, they're at last available in enhanced versions with improved picture quality and special features. Seeing THE BIG BOSS - Special Edition was a delight. The film is more than 30 years old but the picture is represented on this DVD with crisp, clear colours and in Widescreen. Most overwhelming of all must be the fact that it is totally uncensored (!), which is one of many reasons for owning this article. Among the DVD's many special features there's the possibility to have a look at the original cinema trailers as well as a few take-outs, that is scenes that were omitted by the director. This DVD is definitely worth the while for any lover of kungfu films. I trust the rest of Lee's films from the same studio (Media Asia) will be presented with the same fantastic quality.
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I'm by no means a martial arts enthusiast, and I know almost nothing about Asian cinema, but there is just nothing better than a Bruce Lee movie. The Big Boss (marketed as Fists of Fury in the US) marks the point in which Bruce finally sheds the silly mask of the Green Hornet's sidekick Kato and becomes a full-fledged star in his own right. Certainly, The Big Boss is not Bruce's best film, and I don't believe he even choreographed the fight scenes himself, but to me this is a vastly underrated film.
The film opens with Cheng Chao-an (Bruce Lee) arriving wherever it is this story takes place to live and work alongside some of his cousins. His uncle as well as the locket he wears around his neck are constant reminders of the pledge he made to his mother that he would never fight anyone again. I have to tell you, it's pretty hard not to fight in this environment. Before he even gets to his new home, he has to watch a gang of thugs intimidate a poor young lady and kick a little kid around. He holds himself back, but his cousin does not; he takes on all comers and walks away smiling. Cheng's new life is turbulent from the start; the foreman at the ice shipping factory where all the men work is a brute of a man, some guy gives him a knuckle sandwich for no good reason on his first day, and the business itself turns out to be beyond crooked, but the real problem is even more insidious. Cheng's friends and relatives slowly begin disappearing, usually after having a talk with the manager or the nebulous Big Boss. When the men revolt and start an all-out fight at the plant, Cheng hangs back- until, that is, someone cuts him. This marks the first appearance of the Bruce Lee so many of us know and love; the look in Cheng's eyes right after he is slashed foretells the imminent demise of his oath of peace, and the fight ends rather quickly once he joins the fray. He wanders off the path somewhat after this, taken in by a promotion and the frills that come his way as a result, but his destiny is to face the dope-smuggling, preternaturally cruel Big Boss mano a mano.
Bruce Lee's acting talents are easily apparent in this first of his feature films. Starting as a country bumpkin of sorts, Cheng's shyness and feelings for the lovely lass Chow Mei (Maria Yi) are expressed both subtly and convincingly. His face also bears clearly the inner turmoil he feels early on as his oath keeps him from joining a fight that is morally justified. His expressions when the decision to fight is basically made for him are priceless, but he really comes into his own during the fight scenes. No one will ever come close to matching Lee's fighting performances, and while the fights in The Big Boss aren't as elaborate as those of later films, they are plenty impressive to me. Who else but Bruce Lee could take on the ultimate bad guy and his minions while purposefully eating a bag of crackers?
The Big Boss is a dark film; let there be no mistake about that. You won't come away from this movie feeling happy or light of heart. It has a pretty high body count, and while none of the deaths are shown in gruesome detail, there can be little doubt about the levels of blood and pain that surely coincide with a good many final breaths. Evil and cruelty run rampant on the streets, and even the brotherhood of the good guys is greatly diminished at one critical juncture of the story. I doubt that the American public had ever really seen a movie such as this Hong Kong production back in 1971, but two things are certain: The Big Boss played a very important part in making Bruce Lee the super-human legend he is and always will be, and it also helped make martial arts films a hearty new staple to be enjoyed by untold numbers of people across America and much of the rest of the non-Asian world.
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on 9 November 2000
Finally UK martial arts fans get to see Bruce do his thing UNCUT in his ground breaking debut movie. The basic plot rovoles around a shy bruce being sent to stay and work with his relatives in Thailand. However, being a Bruce Lee film, this means that as soon as he gets off the boat all hell breaks loose - which of course leads to all out kung fu mayhem!!! Made way back in 1971, this film not only started Bruce's film career but also the whole Kung-Fu craze. Without this film the careers of Jackie Chan, Van Damme and Jet Li would have been nowhere near as big as they have become. The DVD itself is of course another first rate R2 release from Hong Kong Legends, who continue their quest to produce the most superior version's of hong kong classics in the world. Packed with many features that include rarely seen deleted scenes, as well as an interesting audio commentary track from martial arts expert Bey Logan. All in all this is an impressive DVD from which to be introduced to Bruce Lee's films. In fact the battle between Bruce and 15 villain's in the Icehouse is worth the price of this purchase alone - check it out to see what I mean!!!
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on 22 April 2007
The Big Boss" was Bruce Lee's famous breakthrough film. Script is not a very ingenious one and some of the lines are so naive I had no idea should I laugh or cry. Plot is really just a silly excuse to arrange different fight situations. What I'm saying is this is certainly not an outstanding masterpiece and if you're expecting to find something deep and profound from here I can assure you'll be very disappointed. On the other hand, if you want to see speedy, amusing and stylish violence without a single gunshot and legendary Bruce Lee kicking ass in a most entertaining fight sequences this is definitely your flick. I am not a diehard-fan of Bruce Lee but I do love good Asian action movies and although "The Big Boss" was a rather clumsy old kung-fu classic I think it was quite an enjoyable film to watch. In a nutshell: I liked it.
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on 20 December 2000
The best Martial arts label has done it again ! The print looks fantastic, loads of extras including an amazing new trailer that looks like it was made by a major studio !! Plus its UNCUT !!!! FANTASTIC !!
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on 28 May 2009
This is a must have for any Bruce Lee fan. Although in my opinion it is not his best film, the martial arts scenes are outstanding. For a good quarter of the film, the character that Bruce plays avoids trouble and fighting after making a promise to his ageing mother. This for me makes the film, because there are confrontations that he feels he can't get involved in but this keeps building up, until in the end it becomes too much for Bruce and the viewer to handle. Thereafter, Bruce proves to be the accomplished fighter we all know and love.
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on 18 June 2014
Undoubtedly Bruce Lee's best film in terms of story, pacing and fight sequences. It is heavily censored, and the dubbing is comical, but even then it is still a good film. A good film can be poorly made, or butchered in the editing room, but still be a good film if it has heart and a good story. The only downside to this dvd is that the scene where Bruce Lee is alone with his thoughts does not have the 1980s voiceover which really enabled you to get inside his head. This voiceover sounds something like out of a western.
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on 24 December 2012
This is a Bruce Lee movie. The script is visibly dubbed, and the storyline is pretty silly. The action scenes make up for the weak plot, which was intended to be a comedy, in it's native country.
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on 1 December 2001
This is my favourite Bruce Lee film. Why i don't know but it is. It has 3 fights from Bruce and 4 other fights. Although this film has nudity in it it is worth paying £20 on dvd(like i did). If u've never seen a Bruce Lee film you r bound to like this 1. The end fight on the grass(8mins long) is great. The dubbing in this film is awful and u don't hear his noises. The cantonese version is much better with the noises. One of the Best Martial Arts film ever.
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