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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 Brian McKay

"Bad Kung Fu movies are like bad porn - still watchable with fast-forwarding"
3 stars

The comparison is especially apt with Kung Fu movies and Porn flicks made in the seventies. There are only two ways to deal with the "plot" that goes on in between action scenes. Fast-forward through it, or make fun of it. Having seen FISTS OF FURY again for the first time in many years, I and my viewing compatriots chose the latter. However, there was obviously a strong correlation between Kung-fu movies, late-night viewing, and copious dope smoking in the decade that followed Woodstock.

If ever a film begged to be lambasted on Mystery Science Theater 3000, it is this one. While Bruce Lee's kung-fu chops were impressive as usual, the rest of the film is just plain bad. Hilariously bad. Granted, most of Lee's flicks owe a large ammount of their cult status to camp appeal. But Fists of Fury lacks the polish and insiduous charm of his later and better known works like the Chinese Connection or Enter the Dragon. One of the biggest things going against it is the horrendous English overdub (thank God most of my favorite Samurai flicks are only availiable with subtitles. I shudder to think of what hammy American voiceovers would reduce them to.) However, the badly-dubbed actors are also what make the long dry spells in between ass kickings endurable - if you're in the mood to have a bit of fun with them.

Lee plays Cheng, a young man who returns to his home town and wears a medallion around his neck as a reminder that he has sworn off fighting. Why he has vowed never to fight again is not very clear, although it apparently has something to do with a deathbed promise to his mother. He ends up staying with a house full of cousins who all work at an ice factory. The female cousin, Chow Mei, naturally bats her eyes at him a lot (hey, they're only third cousins. It's cool, right? keep it in the family!). However, the ice factory owner's ruffian son has his eye on her.

Cheng goes to the ice factory with his cousins to get a job there. His first day, however, he indirectly causes an accident that cracks open a block of ice - revealing a packet of heroin inside. The packet is seen by two of Cheng's cousins, before the foreman snatches it away. He offers them shut-up money, but when they refuse, he has them killed.

When the cousins don't come home that night, Cheng's closest cousin, Hsiu Chen, goes looking for them. (note: whoever did the dub-over for this guy wins the "most effeminate voice-over of all time" award). After enquiring all over town for the missing lads, he ends up getting snuffed too. Cheng and the rest of the cousins go looking for him, and confront the big boss of the ice factory who is also running the heroin ring. He promises them he is doing all he can to help, then offers Cheng a foreman's position at the factory, followed by an evening of drunkeness and sex with a gorgeous hooker (Malalene - who sadly only bared her jugs once here before never appearing in legitimate film again). All this is a ploy to distract Cheng from looking for his missing kin, as well as stirring up tensions at home with the cousins, and it works for a brief time. But it isn't long before Cheng discovers the truth, casting his vow of non-combativeness aside in order to kick the ass of everyone who gets within range of his foot.

Although Lee doesn't fight at all through two-thirds of this movie, when he finally does there is no question of why he was considered "the master" of martial arts films in the seventies. While most of the kung-fu action leading up to Lee's first fight in this film looks horribly stiff and poorly coreographed, Lee unleashes a lightning-quick flurry of kicks and punches. Whether the action sequences are so stiff up to that point because they wanted to make Lee look good, or simply because the other actors just sucked at Kung-fu, is anybody's guess. However, Lee's final battles show him in top fighting form and peak physical condition (naturally he finds a way to get his shirt ripped off in a fight scene). In his showdown with the big boss (Yin-Chieh Han, Master of the Overbite), Lee delivers up an ass-whooping that is still dazzling in spite of its high cheese factor. Too bad you have to sit through so much stupid, albeit amusing, crap to get to it.

Carnage and Carnality

-kid selling rice cakes smacked upside the head by thugs. Runs away crying, providing much amusement for audience
-Bruce Lee's effeminate cousin defeats punks through inept timing and stiff coreography
-Ice-tong smackdown
-Lee beats up main thug who insists on constantly wearing a "Captain and Tenille" yachting cap. "This one's for Muskrat Love!" POW!
-Thug kicked through wall leaves Wile E. Coyote cutout behind. MEEP MEEP!
-ninja-style two-fisted knife fighting
-Triple knife-throwing with quick cut to three guys screaming and holding prop knives against their chests
-Lee discovers room full of corpseicles. Opens mouth to show that he is aghast
-Malalene shows some marvelous mams before seducing a drunken master
-high-flying Doberman dodging
-thrown knife returned to sender with slingshot kick

FISTS OF FURY isn't a great kung-fu flick, even by the campy standards of the 70's. However, it certainly has its moments of great fun thanks to Lee's natural prowess and some comically bad voice-dubbing. Engaging in a bit of "MST3K-ing" or "420 Theater" certainly wouldn't hurt your viewing experience either.

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originally posted: 01/12/03 18:10:07
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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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