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"It's The Only Way To Survive"

                        Old School Review

              Fist of Fury

Starring: Bruce Lee, Nora Mao , James Tien

Directed By : Lo Wei 

1972 

aka: The Chinese Connection

 Copyright ©1972 Golden Harvest

 

FIST of FURY


By the time Bruce Lee had made this his second film ,he was the biggest martial arts star in the world.

The film centres around a fictional character called Chen Zhen who was the student of real life Martial arts legend Huo Yuan- Jia.


Set around the turn of the twentieth century in Shanghai ,Bruce plays Chen a student who returns home to the Jingwu school only to find the funeral of his master ( Huo YuanJia) taking place.

Distraught to say the least Chen unable to cope with the loss at first and has to be manhandled for his safety.


Later on when formal respects are being paid by the Chinese Community in through the door arrive a entourage of Japanese visitors accompanied by their translator Hu.

Presented with a gift of a insulting sign depicting the Chinese as the Sick Men of Asia.


Shocked by the front of the Japanese they ask them to leave in their time of grief. But the Japanese are here to stir up trouble they want to invoke a reaction so they shut down the school as it is the time of the Japanese invasions of China and Shanghai is occupied.


After not getting a reaction form the students they turn to Chen ,Hu slaps Chen in the face calling him a coward for not fighting ,but as he was taught tolerance he stands his ground and does not enter in to battle ( well he nearly does ,but he is stopped by his teacher).


So now a battle of wits and cunning will ensue as the Japanese plan to take over the Kung Fu schools in the area and if they can close the Jingwu school they will be on the way to their goal.


But they did not count on was Chen arriving at their own Dojo ,the Hongkou dojo. Representing the Japanese gift of the sign ,the Japanese laugh in his face and tell him they will teach him a lesson. As they start to engage it is apparent that the Japanese have bitten of more then they can chew ( and chew they will) .

Chen takes on the whole school in what can only be described as one of the most iconic fight scenes ever filmed . As Chen carves his way through the students with ease ( at one point using a Nunchuku to break their ankles) . Even when the last man is down and he faces of against the teacher he dispatches him swiftly and in style.


After the event he makes two of the Japanese literally chew on their words by having them eat the sign they have given .


But when the Japanese hierarchy find out they are enraged and vow to smash the Jingwu school.

Their leader Hiroshi Suzuki orders his men to make a impact and this is what they will do . Arriving at the Jingwu school while the Jingwu men are training the Japanese catch them of guard ( look out for Jackie Chan fighting in the courtyard before they arrive) .


As the Japanese storm in and start attacking and smashing up the place a big brawl breaks out No2 student Fan Chia Chi stops them from desecrating the shrine to Huo Yuan Jia but gets injured in the process. After the ordeal they leave demanding they turn Chen in to them to avoid further repercussions.


It's now that Chen returns missing the Japanese by seconds ,confronted with the destruction he knows in the back of his mind that he is the cause. When asked where he's been ,he owns up that he confronted the Japanese on their own ground.


Now willing to hand him over to the Japanese they decide he should leave Shanghai and arrange a train ticket for him. But Chen will not be going anywhere as later that night he is witness to a conversation between the cook and the caretaker who reveal they are the ones that killed Huo Yuen Jia by poisoning his food.


Storming in Chen confronts the two men ,one who is Japanese ,at first the cook is tough and arrogant he will soon be dead and hanging with the caretaker in the street.


After leaving a note for his teacher that Huo Yuan Jia was poisoned Chen leaves and takes refuge . The same morning the screams in the street are apparent that Chen has been busy. While fellow students look on in disbelief at the cook and caretaker hanging dead in the street their teacherFan Chun -hsia reveals that Chen killed them after finding out that they killed Huo Yuan Jia.


Meanwhile Suzuki orders the Police to get involved and a inspector calls on the Jingwu men to hand over Chen or be closed down. Chen is also making plans to see who gave the order for the killing and infiltrates the school to over hear what’s going on , disguised as a telephone engineer ( truly brilliant piece of acting by Bruce here' I thought he was somebody else to) to ease drop on the Japanese.

Later on Bruce takes on the role of a Rickshaw man and captures Hu the translator as he tells Chen of Suzuki's plans he begs for pity and as Chen turns to leave Hu tries to kill him ,guess where he will be hanging next morning?

Back at the Jingwu school no1 student is desperate to find Chen and when

fellow student Yuan Le-erh reveals she knows where Chen is staying they all go to help him but he is not around.


It's now that the bloody climax will over take the film ,Chen has gone to the HougKuo school to avenge his masters death ,but before he gets there Suzuki has dispatched a band of Sword wielding men to the Jingwu school to kill them all .


As Chen enters the Japanese Dojo he is confronted by a some Samurai ,he asks them to leave as he is here for Suzuki only . Whether it be stupidity or honour they fail to heed his requests and attack him after dealing with them in comes the head Teacher Yoshida who Chen has battled before . This time Yoshida attacks Chen with a sword ,but this will not help him and only enrage Chen even more till Yoshida is dead and run through with his own sword.


Now for the final confrontation, as Chen goes through the dojo to where Suzuki is he can sense the time has come ,but when in front of him stands a giant Russian fighter called Petrov ,who has been training with Suzuki ,Chen sees he still has a bit to do.


The fight between Petrov and Chen is not just violent but for all martial artists a beautiful piece of combat between two highly regarded exponents of the arts.Add to this the setting in the Japanese garden and it's also a quite a peaceful fight if there is one.

After combination of after combination of painfull looking blows ,leg locks and blocks the fight comes to a end with Petrov dead on the grass.

Now for Suzuki ,Chen enters the offices of Suzuki ( all made from rice paper and wood) only to have Suzuki jump out with his sword ,luckily Chen has his trusted Nunchuku as the two battle blade to chuk. The end result will have Suzuki flying through the window landing dead on arrival.


Back at Jingwu no1 senior student has returned with his fellows only to find the rest of the school wiped out by the Japanese ,the police arrive looking for Chen after the HongKuo aftermath only to find another slaughter on their hands. The Japanese consulate want action against Chen and the Chinese just want peace .

Chen arrives through a top window to find his friends dead and the Japanese making demands .


In the end Chen will have to pay for his crimes as the inspector takes him out after promising not to trouble the Jingwu men again. But outside the Japanese are waiting for him and Chen runs and jumps at them to the sound of gunfire and the film ends.


So 1972 and Bruce Lee had certified his professionalism in front and behind the camera ,the film was Lo Wei's biggest film and with big box office ,Golden Harvest was pleased and it meant he could write ,direct ,star and choreograph his next film all himself.


But also look out for big name stars and directors today starring in the film ,we all know of Jackie taking the Jump through the window for Riki Hashimoto ( which Bruce praised Jackie for) ,but look out for Jackie amongst the Jingwu students as he crops up and is seen fighting to.

Also on hand was Yuen Wah who Chen beats up outside the park that not for Dogs or Chinese.


Then we have both Lam Ching -Ying and Corey Yuen Kwei as Japanese students who Chen also fights. Also look out for Mars and Yuen Biao who also worked on the film ,but I am yet to spot them on my many viewings.


A landmark film that has inspired many remakes some good and some not so good but all pale in comparison to the original.


Score out of Ten = 10

review date: February 2011

Sertes Nake

 

 

                               Alternative covers and posters

Australian DVD release cover

 

 

 

                                                     Credits
  • Bruce Lee as Chen Zhen - our hero.
  • Nora Miao as Yuan Le-erh - as Chen's Girlfriend.
  • Riki Hashimoto as Hiroshi Suzuki - the master of Hongkou Dojo. 
  • Robert Baker as Petrov - a Russian gang boss who joins Suzuki
  • Tien Feng as Fan Chun-hsia - the eldest student of Huo Yuanjia
  • Paul Wei as Hu En - Suzuki's translator.
  • Feng Yi as Yoshida - the Hongkou Dojo's Sensei (head instructor)
  • Lo Wei as the police inspector
  • Hwong Chung Hsin as Tien -  cook.
  • Han Yin-chieh as Feng Kwai-Sher -  caretaker.
  • James Tien Chun as Fan Chia-Chi - a student from Jing Mo School
  • Maria Yi as Yen - a student from Jing Mo School
  • Lee Kwan as Hsu - a student from Jing Mo School
  • Tony Liu as Chin - a student from Jing Mo School
  • Chin San as Tung - a student from Jing Mo School
 
 

Directed by Lo Wei
Produced by Raymond Chow
Written by Lo Wei
Starring Bruce Lee
Nora Miao
Music by Joseph Koo
Distributed by Golden Harvest
Release date(s) Hong Kong:
March 22, 1972
 (1972-03-22)
Running time 108 min.
Country Hong Kong
Language Mandarin
Cantonese
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