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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 24%
Pretty Bad: 12%
Total Crap: 8%

2 reviews, 13 user ratings

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Fists of Fury
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by Slyder

"The Dragon Has Landed"
4 stars

After disappointing stints in the United States, mostly due to racism even though he was born the United States, Bruce Lee, a native of China born in San Francisco, went back to Hong Kong (where he had lived at an early age until 18) to try and establish himself as a martial arts star. He landed a contract with Golden Harvest studios, and Raymond Chow, the studio head, would go on and produce his first film (he would eventually produce all of Leeís films) called The Big Boss. It was released in the US as Fists Of Fury. The result was a commercial blockbuster in China that generated a buzz in the US. Leeís first film is really a stepping stone in his later films to come, and despite the somewhat weak plot and wooden acting, the martial arts sequences are first rate, and really makes this film worth a look.

The film is the story of Chen Chao-An (Lee), a Chinese city boy that moves to Thailand with his cousins to work in an ice factory. He has sworn to his uncle (Chia Ching Tu) not to get into any violent fights, a trace that probably he has had a violent past in he city. During Chenís first stint at the factory, an accident occurs as one of the ice cubes falls and breaks. Two of Chenís cousins discover the bag amongst the ice shreds, and thanks to it, later they would disappear. Another one of Chenís cousins, Hsiu Chen (James Tien), whose a dear friend of Chen, goes with another relative to the bossís house, but never returns. As the mysteries turn even more and more darker, Chen must find out the reasons why his cousins have disappeared without the trace, a mystery that the boss (Yin-Chieh Han) and his associates in the factory would kill for.

The plot is basically formulaic; the film contains several plotholes that hamper the film in many aspects, since the film tries a bit too much to hold the weak storyline between good guys and bad guys. The storyline is weak since the film makes the disappearance case look dumb. One would go to the Chinese Consulate in Thailand and present a demand, but the film never does that so that the actual plot doesnít derail from where itís originally intending to go. Thanks to this, the suspense never really fills up well, and sometimes ends up with a few groaners, especially in the very end.

Thanks to those flaws, the film gets hampered substantially but keeps itself alive thanks to two factors, the cinematography and the martial arts sequences. The cinematography of the film, which was shot on Thailand helps a lot and gives the film credibility, in fact, it was one of the first films to be shot on a real-life scenario and not a studio set, and some shots were breathtaking. Leeís trademark of a man stepping foot on a strange land was shot perfectly, and gives the film a warm feeling, along with a few comedic antics. But the movieís true kicker is the martial arts scenes choreographed by Lee himself.

Though this is not the first time we see Lee in action (The Green Hornet was the first), it certainly is the first of really riveting fight scenes that would later on define the martial arts genre. Whereas in the Green Hornet, Leeís style wasnít as well appreciated, here we see him in his full splendor. The sequences are riveting all the way until the last punch; the fights in the factory and the face off between Lee and The Boss (Han is a real-life martial artist) are classics. What gives the last fight a big boost is the trademark of all of Leeís films, which is that he always liked to fight with real-life martial artists. Thanks to this the fights are even more interesting to watch and you feel the true awe of the fight seeing a master fighting another master. That was fucking great.

The performances were all right. Leeís acting is at times wooden but the fight scenes really make up for it. The rest of the supporting cast is also up to the standards. Lo Weiís direction sometimes stiffs up at certain times, but manages to keep the film under control despite his shaky script.

In the end, Fists of Fury is not one of Leeís greatest, but it damn sure is one of his most important, since we see here The Dragon finally starting to establish his reign in the martial arts scene, a reign that may have not lasted long, but that left a deep and profound impact in the movie industry and in the martial arts genre. This film still remains a minor classic, but Lee would outdo himself with his next film. (3.5-5)

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originally posted: 12/31/01 09:41:35
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User Comments

5/20/16 MJ Horrible film. Lee & cousins act/think as kids. Boring FF all except Lee 's fights. 1 stars
3/20/07 action movie fan exciting bruce lee action thriller takes on dope ring-great finale 5 stars
7/24/05 C Vega a movie with some of bruce lee's best fight scenes ever captured 5 stars
7/04/05 ALDO only watch the fights scenes....the story is as bad as they get... 2 stars
2/17/05 Daveman Nice choreography but ploddingly paced and poorly acted, Way of the Dragon is more fun. 2 stars
6/21/04 Eric W Here you see what martial art as a way of life was and is not anymore. Real life master. 5 stars
5/05/04 dead next door dont know why but i cannot get into this movie. 2 stars
12/19/03 Nuhi Ademi very good movie 5 stars
4/30/03 R.Kesavan Excellent 5 stars
1/13/03 Charles Tatum Nothing life altering 3 stars
5/22/00 Obi Wan A classic...this movie did alot for Kung-Fu Flicks!!! 5 stars
3/14/99 Ah Dooey A real martial-arts masterpiece. 5 stars
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  02-Feb-1972 (R)


  02-Jul-1972 (MA)

Directed by
  Wei Lo

Written by
  Wei Lo

  Bruce Lee
  San Chin
  Yin-Chieh Han
  Quin Lee
  Tony Liu
  Nora Miao
  James Tien

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