Fist of Fury | aka Chinese Connection (1972) Review

"Fist of Fury" Chinese Theatrical Poster

“Fist of Fury” Chinese Theatrical Poster

AKA: Jing Wu Men
Director: Lo Wei
Writer: Lo Wei
Cast: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, Tien Feng, Robert Baker, Paul Wei Ping Ao, Lo Wei, Riki Hashimoto, Lee Kwan, Feng Yi, Wong Chung Shun, Alexander Grand
Running Time: 108 min.

By Numskull

When I first found my way onto this website, way back in the “Jackie Chan: The Ultimate Filmography” days, I had already seen this film and knew that I would someday write a negative review of it. And when that day finally arrived, I said to myself: “Self, you’ve got to tread carefully when you’re talking about this movie. Bruce Lee is to a lot of people who come here as the cow is to India. Express your disappointment, but take care not to piss anyone off.”

But, upon further reflection, I realized that with the nature of idolatry being what it is, it was basically impossible to write a truthful review without pissing anyone off, so fuck it.

This film simply failed to entertain me on any level. The China vs. Japan conflict wasn’t presented as well as it could’ve been. The dramatic scenes were dull and uninvolving. The fights weren’t really fights at all, they were straightforward beatings (the ones with Bruce in them, anyway). This is why I never have been, nor will I ever be, a Bruce Lee fan. He walks up to the bad guy and beats the hell out of him. Then he walks up to the bigger guy and beats the SHIT out of him. Then he walks up to the biggest bad guy and beats the FUCK out of HIM…

Where’s the excitement? Nowhere to be found, if you ask me. Yeah, Bruce can kick anyone’s ass without breaking a sweat, but the fact that he does exactly that on screen is the reason why his films don’t appeal to me. If I wanted to watch a guy going through villains like a dog plodding along a street full of puddles just to show how skilled he is, I’d watch…uh…well, I don’t know what else I’d watch, but I’m not interested in seeing such a thing anyway.

I know many people consider this to be a consummate, landmark martial arts film…and it is, if only for historical reasons…but for me, the entertainment value of such a movie stems from the amount of excitement generated by the fight scenes. I wonder if this is really supposed to be a tale of oppression and revenge or just an ego trip for Bruce. Regardless, in my mind this is just not the way a martial arts movie should be.

Numskull’s Rating: 3/10

By Amir

The hope for survival and the fight for honor are engraved within the Chinese history. Based upon these ancient principles, Fist of Fury is set in Shanghai of 1908 and displays the Japanese takeover in the context of the martial arts. The Japanese murder a respected Chinese Kung Fu instructor and his most skilled student sets out on a quest for vengeance. This mission is more than a duty but an act of survival, by defeating each enemy on his way, the hero keeps the memory of his teacher alive, upholding his culture and the values of his tradition.

A perfect martial arts epic, Fist of Fury is also a fantastic war movie. The film’s direction is emotionaly moving and energetic, the music is haunting, and Bruce Lee’s multilevel performance ranks as his finest work in his unfortunately short career. An unforgettable motion picture, Fist of Fury carries with it not only the most brutal, terrifying, and perfectly executed martial arts choreography of any action film made before or since, but also the unshakable charisma of its legendary actor, Bruce Lee. A powerful film.

Amir’s Rating: 10/10

By James H.

I was not sure what to expect when I pressed play on the remote. To this point, I had only seen “Enter the Dragon” and the mess that is known as “Game of Death”. I was pleasantly surprised when the credits finished. This martial arts film, unlike most others of the era, had a decent plot and story. I was surprised with the ending as well. It was strange to see a good film directed by Lo Wei. Some of his other efforts, those with Jackie Chan, are just horrible.

I am aware that there are different versions of this film available. I saw the one put out by CBS FOX Video (you know, the one with the generic Bruce Lee art on the cover). At first, I thought it was going to be a total disaster when it opened with the narration: “Our story begins with the death…” However, as the film progressed, I liked the corny dialogue and bad dubbing. There was something strange about it, something I can?t put my finger on. It reminded me (especially the music) of those old Saturday afternoon serials. It had the same kind of cheap looking sets and low production values.

Bruce Lee gives a good performance, although he has some trouble conveying certain emotions by facial expression. On the whole he does a good job, especially when he is disguised as the phone repair guy. The rest of the cast does a decent job too. The villains do their best to look menacing.

But forget all that. Forget the acting. Forget the story. This film is about the fights. And there are plenty. They range from good to somewhat ridiculous (I don?t care how cool Bruce is, not even he can’t take out guys with one punch). The fights get progressively better throughout the film. The final fights are both very cool.

The film does have some flaws. For instance, Lo Wei is not the greatest director (to put it mildly) and there is room for improvement in that department, although it might be better in widescreen. But all that aside, it is a good movie to watch on a Saturday afternoon.

James H’s Rating: 6.5/10


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One Response to Fist of Fury | aka Chinese Connection (1972) Review

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