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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Little Dragon's most defining role is class!, 14 May 2002
This review is from: Fist Of Fury [1993] [DVD] (DVD)
After the unexpected global success of 'The Big Boss', Bruce Lee followed it with the noticeably superior Lo Wei-directed 'Fist Of Fury'.
Chen Zhen (Lee), a student at the Jing-wu Mun School of martial arts, returns home to find that his master Fok Yun Gap (who was actually a real-life master - the photos you see in the movie on his shrine are those of the real guy) has died suddenly. The funeral and eulogy are broken up when members of Master Suzuki (Riki Hoshimoto)'s neighbouring Bushido School, together with their interpreter Mr Wu (Wei Ping-Ao, 'Way Of The Dragon', 'Ninja In The Dragon's Den'), who brings them a 'present' - a sign with the Chinese symbols for 'Sick Man Of Asia'. This greatly angers Chen, so, after having been forbidden to exact his ever-growing fury at the prejudice on Wu and the Japanese during the funeral, he later pays them a visit and single-handedly defeats all of the Japanese students with his incredible fighting skills.
After a revenge attack from the Japanese on the Jing-wu school and its students (which includes a guy played by a pre-cosmetic surgery Jackie Chan), Chen is asked to leave for the school's sake. He refuses, and stays the night, but soon has his peace disturbed when he finds out that something more sinister may have been responsible for the death of Sifu Fok Yun Gap...
This was not only considered to be Bruce Lee's most defining role as he defends his fellow Chinese against prejudice from the Japanese (his most famous scenes, which caused raucous cheer, are (a) the line where he says 'We Chinese are not sick', and (b) the bit involving the racially-discriminating 'No Dogs or Chinese Allowed' sign outside the park). He also shows some more realistic choreography that has less of the hokey moments present in 'The Big Boss' (although some still remain that Lee would have preferred weren't there, such as physically lifting a whole rickshaw with Wei Ping-Ao on it - even Lee wasn't that strong), and also introduced the weapon most famously linked to him, namely the previously-censored Nunchaku (although bits where he used them had to be sped up as he had only recently started using them at the time). He also had a Westerner (Robert Baker, a real-life student of Lee's) to contend with, where Lee really shows his stuff, particularly with the speed of his punches.
Note that even though Han Yin-Chieh is listed as the fight coordinator, Bruce Lee actually choreographed the fight scenes he was in (you can tell because of the different overall feel of those which did not feature him, which looked limp and unrealistic in comparison). Lee surrendered credit to Han out of respect for an elder.
Top marks for Hong Kong Legends for reintroducing the new generation of action fans to this classic, which (on DVD anyway) comes complete with the usual trailers, special features and an audio commentary with Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan, who adds some interesting and entertaining background to Lee and the movie itself, as well as pointing out key actors and actresses, including ones who would later make it big (look out for people such as Jackie Chan, Yuen Wah and a brief appearance from 'Mr Vampire' star Lam Ching-Ying). Also included is the usual Hong Kong Legends DVD choice of either the English dubbed version or the Cantonese (they redubbed it from the original Mandarin track it had on initial release in 1972) with remastered English subtitles (which I admit contain the occasional typo).
If you were a bit disappointed by the hokery in 'The Big Boss', don't let that put you off this one. Lee's first scrap doesn't take long to kick in (pun fully intended), and all his fights are far more impressive. In fact, fans cite this as containing the best fights of his tragically short career, as well as showing him and Nora Miao sharing what would be his only screen kiss.
This movie is a classic, and if you're a Lee fan (or any action fan) you'd be a fool to miss this!
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