Flashback Review: Bruce Lee's "The Big Boss"
Updated: Mar 25
Bruce Lee was, in my opinion, the first motion picture legend of Kung-Fu martial arts. His movies, which there are only 4, are legendary.
"The Big Boss" is the first of the series. Released in 1971, the original title is "Tang Shan da Xiong". Before getting into the actual movie, there was, and I believe still is, some confusion when it comes to the title of the movie. Many people are not aware that this movie was originally re-titled for American distribution The Chinese Connection, a play on words on the popular The French Connection since both movies were dealing with drug trafficking. However the titles were accidentally changed with the title of his second movie, so the "The Big Boss" became Fists of Fury and the second movie became The Chinese Connection. According to Wikipedia, recent DVD releases and TV Showings have restored the original titles of all Bruce Lee movies.
"The Boss Man" aka Fists of Fury is the story of a young man who goes to work with his cousins in an ice factory. The Young man (Lee) was sworn to an oath of non violence, however breaks that oath when his cousins start disappearing from the factory for no apparent reason. He later finds out that the factory is a front for distributing drugs through their blocks of ice and in addition, also disposes of dead bodies in the same fashion. This brings on a series of battles (fights) that conclude at the Big Boss mansion.
Lets be honest, "The Boss Man" is not the best movie ever, but you have to take into account that the movie dates back 43 years ago. The acting appears to be off and the plot is definitely predictable. However when Bruce Lee finally gets to fight, the film becomes much more interesting, probably due to the fact that you would expect Bruce Lee to fight from the beginning.
Another little know fact is that this movie was made for James Tien, who was an established martial art star at the time. Despite that, Bruce Lee out performed him in this movie.
What I really enjoyed about "The Boss Man" as a whole is that you see James Tien fighting in the first half of the movie, and Bruce Lee in the second half. The movie demonstrated the different styles of the two fighters: James Tien has more of a 60's style of fighting where everything is very choppy. Bruce Lee, on the other hand, had more of a refreshed approach to fighting for that era: kung-fu who uses the economy of movement to strike fast with no fixed stances. This was revolutionary at the time. I also view this as a transition from the old style to the new. This was the first real look at Bruce Lee in action and in this sense, it was definitely a success.
I am a huge Bruce Lee fan. The acting in his movies is not the best, but the fighting scenes are legendary. This is definitely the case for 'The Big Boss". I enjoyed all the fighting, including those from James Tien.
A solid "B" movie, but definitely an "A" movie when it comes to the fighting.
I found this documentary for you on Youtube which is quite interesting. It gives you the background and the making of for "The Boss Man". Please enjoy :)
You may purchase this movie here.
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