Tag: bruce lee

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FOREIGN LANGUAGE WEEKEND*** Fist of Fury (1972)

The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched. The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again.   But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough. I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies. With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.

 Fist 1

“Now you listen to me. I’ll only say this once. We are not sick men.”

My experience with kung fu and martial arts movies is pretty limited. My experience with Bruce Lee movies is limited to just one, Enter the Dragon. About which I said, “This seems to be the blueprint of every rip off and piss-take I’ve ever seen.  And for all its cheesiness, I totally understand its place as genre classic.” So while I claimed to “get it”, it’s impact obviously didn’t really stick with me, because that review is two years old, and I only just got around to watching my second Bruce Lee picture, Fist of Fury.


In turn of the 20th century Shanghai, Chen (Lee) returns home to his martial arts school where the funeral for his teacher is in progress. Apparently dying from pneumonia, Chen finds that hard to believe and suspects foul play. His suspicions only grow when students from a rival Japanese martial arts school pay a visit to deliver a derogatory sign and try to pick a fight. Chen almost takes the bait, but his fellow students remind him that their deceased master taught them martial arts only for fitness, not for fighting. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Enter the Dragon (1973)

Scan
Ever seen a 70s martial arts movie?  Even if you haven’t, I bet you know exactly what to expect from this one.  I don’t think I’d ever watched one until now.  But Bruce Lee and everything about Enter the Dragon have been parodied and referenced so many times in the years since, that it’s hard to not feel like I’ve seen it all before.


After topping his class at ass kicking school, Lee (Bruce Lee) is deployed on a covert mission to infiltrate the island lair of Mr Han (Kien Shih).  He’s running drugs and running whores, and not the willing ones with hearts of gold either.  These chicks are straight up kidnapped and sold as sex slaves.  Every few years, Mr Han holds a tournament to help strengthen his ranks of henchmen.  Lee uses the tournament as an excuse to pop over, and there is much fighting.

As a bad guy, Mr Han is just a little too over the top.  In a movie that seems to have gone all out on sets and locations, the dodgy cheapness of his many fake hands is laughable.  The last one seriously looks like 4 steaks knives sticking out of a tissue box spray painted silver.  His henchman, Bolo Yeung, is legitimately threatening and would have made a much more menacing opponent for Lee’s final battle.  But I guess the film makers thought Mr Han and his chintzy fake bare claw were more impressive.

The story is paper thin and really doesn’t matter.  What does matter is, it keeps finding reasons to have dudes fight.  Mr Han as a couple of scary bodyguards and Lee gets some almost allies in Williams (Jim Kelley) and Roper (John Saxon).  As American fighters taking part in the tournament, they also get a couple of cool fight scenes each to add a little variety.

I know this is probably a dumb question, typical of someone new to the genre, but seriously, what’s the story with the sound effects?  How did they become a staple of this kind of movie? Did people back in the day think they were badass?  Because all I could think with every ‘crack’, ‘snap’ and ‘thonk’ was how ridiculous, cartoony and just dumb they were.

One thing about Enter the Dragon that does more than hold up though, is Bruce Lee’s fighting.  Watching, it became immediately clear why he’s still the most famous name associated with movie martial arts, even though he’s been dead for forty years.  His physicality, intensity and skill is just amazing.  It’s impossible not be blown away when he’s really going for it.

From what I can tell, Enter the Dragon is the epitome of this genre.  The sound effects, the slow motion fights, the constantly zooming camera, the bad over dubbing of voices, the awesome soundtrack.  This seems to be the blueprint of every rip off and piss-take I’ve ever seen.  And for all its cheesiness, I totally understand its place as genre classic.

Enter the Dragon
Directed By – Robert Clouse
Written By – Michael Allin