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Musings from the Edge of Forever

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Retro Review: FIST OF FURY (1972)

Fist of Fury

“Never tell me the odds!”

Though The Big Boss was a huge success for Bruce Lee in 1971, it was the 1972 follow-up Fist of Fury that truly catapulted him to the level of superstar - and with good reason. Once known in the United States as The Chinese Connection, this Lo Wei-directed flick may seem like just another “You killed my master!” revenge yarn, but Bruce Lee’s charismatic performance puts Fist of Fury at the very top of the heap. Spawning unofficial sequels, remakes, and numerous tributes, Fist of Fury rivals Enter the Dragon as Bruce Lee’s most known and most beloved film, particularly among Chinese audiences.

In his only period film as an adult, Lee plays Chen Zhen, a young student from the Jing Wu school who returns home for the funeral of his venerable sifu and real-life martial artist, Huo Yuanjia who has died under mysterious circumstances. Members of a rival Japanese academy are the only suspects, but there’s no proof of any wrongdoing. Enter Chen Zhen into the fray. Employing a variety of disguises, Chen Zhen eventually uncovers the culprits behind his master’s death and takes his bloody revenge on each and every one of them. After infiltrating the enemy’s dojo, Chen Zhen beats the holy hell out of a veritable armada of adversaries before going out in a proverbial blaze of glory.

Fist of Fury is a landmark film in Hong Kong cinema history, spawning numerous unofficial sequels (including one with Jackie Chan), several tributes, a stellar remake with Jet Li, and a 1995 TV show + a 2010 feature length film starring Mr. Donnie Yen. My review of the film can be read here, and you can check out this awesome, high quality, strangely spoiler-filled Cantonese language trailer embedded below. Love the repeated use of Also Sprach Zaruthustra at the beginning and end to let people know how “epic” this movie would be.

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