Kick'em In The Ghoulies

"It's The Only Way To Survive"

Old School Review

(c) Image Copyright 1971 Golden Harvest  / (c) 1993 Star TV Entertainment

The BIG BOSS - 1971

Bruce who plays Cheng goes to Thailand to find work with the aid of his Uncle.

Cheng has cousins in Thailand and they have offered to find him work there . Now Cheng is a mild mannered man with a martial arts ability that has led him in to trouble in the past as he often takes action before thinking about the out come. 

So because of this his mother has given him a Jade pendant to remind him not to fight when trouble arises. 

Now his cousins get him a job at a local ice Factory ,but this factory is a front for illegal dealings and trouble is about to start.

Two of the cousins whilst working break a block of ice and discover inside packets of white powder! (this factory is a front for a drug smuggling operation). When work is ended the two Cousins are asked to stay behind to see the Boss (Big Boss Hsiao Mi played  by  Yin-Chieih Han).

The two are told of the smuggling operation and offered better Jobs and Money , but when they refuse they are dealt with accordingly (THEY ARE KILLED).

Now the remaining cousins become worried about their relatives  and ask the Boss about them as he was the last to see them. The Boss says they left after the talk they had and that they should not worry , Boys will be Boys .

When they fail to turn up a  further two of them ask to see the Boss , but when asked the Boss just says they came and left after there talk, but when they say they will go to the police the boss has them eliminated but not with out some of his own men being killed in the process by Cousin Hsu Chien played by James Tien , who of note  was to be the lead in the film until the makers decided Bruce should have the role.

To take the blame from himself , or shadow the blame we will say Boss Mi makes Cheng the foreman of the factory , feeding him well and providing sex for him in the form of prostitutes .

This alienates the remaining cousins against Cheng (there's a lot of cousins here) one who is played by Lam Ching-Ying who in turn was assistant action director on the film as he was on all of Bruce Lees films.

Anyhow when a prostitute tells Cheng the truth he Unleashes his fist of fury towards Mi and his men , breaking in to the ice factory at night and finding the proof he needs.

This sets us up for a final with Cheng and Mi's men and a final battle with Cheng and Mi.

Upon viewing for a first time what becomes apparent is the ability of Bruce lee in the fights and how much presence he had on screen , you new that once he sprang into action your eyes would be glued to the screen .

Not all fighters have what it takes  to become stars.

You can be a great fighter but with out a good persona and timing  people won't want to watch you.

In fact timing is key to all Martial art films so that the scenes flow well , it's something Bruce was good at as well as his ability to choreograph a scene .

Fights in the film are shot wide , they take over the screen with full body motion on view so that your witnessing every move move performed in full.  Add in the locations used and it's a sight to behold .

It's what made The Big Boss such a huge success , it literally raised the bar  for fight action in HONG KONG cinema  , it made everyone else want to push those boundaries further and further.

It's why the film is so important in the genre. 

On second viewing you realise how tragic the film is with people being disposed of left right and centre for the gains of money. 

The film is quite dark in places and Bruce's Cheng character really is a fish out of water pushed to the limit.

Until  they fight back and then it may be to late for the assailant to escape.

Revenge  is sweet they say but only when it's done for the right reason!


You really have not experienced Hong Kong Cinema with out viewing this film .

My advice watch on as big as screen as possible and preferably in it's original Language with subtitles to get the full effect .  

Score out of Ten =  9

Reviewed By : Sertes Nake

Page Updated : May 2021

  • Credits

  • Bruce Lee as Cheng Chao-an:
  • Maria Yi as Chiao Mei: 
  • James Tien as Cousin "Hsu Chien"
  • Yin-Chieh Han as Hsiao Mi ("The Big Boss")
  • Lee Kwan as Cousin "Ah Kun"
  • Tony Liu as "Hsiao Chiun" (Hsiao Mi's son)
  • Chao Chen as "Foreman of the Ice factory"
  • Chia Ching Tu as "Uncle"
  • Gam Saan as Cousin "Ah Shan"
  • Billy Chan Wui-Ngai as Cousin "Ah Pei"
  • Lam Ching-Ying as Cousin "Ah Yen" (also Assistant Action Director of the film)
  • Nora Miao as the drinkstand owner
  • Ma La Lene as "Miss Wuman"



Directed by Lo Wei
Produced by Raymond Chow
Written by Bruce Lee
Lo Wei
Starring Bruce Lee
Maria Yi
James Tien
Yin-chieh Han
Tony Liu
Music by Wang Fu-ling (original Mandarin version)
Peter Thomas (English dub version)
Joseph Koo (re-issued Cantonese version)
Distributed by

Golden Harvest Dimension Films

Sony Pictures
Release date(s) Hong Kong:
October 3, 1971
Running time 110 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Mandarin
Gross revenue HK $3,197,417
North America:
$2,800,000 (US/ Canada rentals)


source : wikipedia