For years I actually resented Enter the Dragon because it was the Hollywoodizing of Bruce Lee’s movies. The simplicity of his Hong Kong movies and the style seemed to be lost in big vast sets, huge cast and production costs. But as I have over the years swayed from my perch and begun to accept it as a very good movie and worthy of its praise. Most of my gripe was with Warner Bros who has pushed individual collectors editions and large events surrounding a film that is 3rd or 4th best of his few films he made.
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Fist of Fury, sometimes referred to as the Chinese Connection is the second film of Bruce Lee in his Kung Fu Cinema collection. The title confusion comes from the movies being sent to America and somehow The Big Boss ended up with the Fury title and the mo vie execs then gave Fury the Chinese Connection title in reference to the French Connection thought the two films have absolutely no plot relation.
Fury is probably the highest quality of all of Bruce Lee’s films when it comes down purely to the picture quality since the remastering of the films this decade. And the soundtrack theme may very well be his most famous associated music.
Bruce stars as Chen a young student who avenges his teachers murder by a rival master along with the love interests sub plot that many films during the Golden Age of Kung Fu contained. This was Bruce Lee’s second and final film with director Lo Wei who Lee disagreed with the racial content of Japanese v Chinese that many films of this genre portrayed. In future films that Lee had more control over this sentiment was not seen.
Chen defies his schools wishes and pokes his nose into refuting insults and investigating his teacher’s death. When his actions draw more attention to his comrades Chen must make a choice leave Shanghai or fight to the end, this is Bruce Lee, we know how he chooses. The infiltration of the fortress requires Chen to go undercover which is some of Bruce Lee’s greatest acting.
The success of Big Boss allowed for Lee to be able to have more control of fight direction and choreographed the action in Fury that included his character. The added control made for much improved quality in the fight scenes and intensity.
Fist of Fury introduced the nunchuku to the world as formidable weapon and an alternative to the less concealable Katana. The school fight scene man be Lee’s most famous scene and one of cinemas’ greatest action sequences. Also hidden in this scene is Bruce Lee’s first work with Jackie Chan who plays a student in the Japanese class, look hard for him.
The closing moment of the film was at Lee’s request, and much like the ending many films of the 70 era there is no happy ending for the hero.
Fist of Fury is Lee’s most reproduced work and has also produced several unconnected sequels none of which are worth the time. If you intend on watching one of the remakes I would suggest the Fist of Legend re-imagination starring Jet Li. Produced by Golden Harvest the original producer the movie stays very close to the original storyline with a little more expansion on the school dynamics and relationships. The fight scenes are almost a mirror image in style and choreography. Some consider it Li’s best work, I am not one of those people, his style though similar to Lee’s original teachings in Wushu is too tight and defined to flow in comparison to Lee’s Jeet Kun Do. Li is an exceptional actor and has produced amazing work, but his style is his own and works in his films, just not as Bruce Lee.