Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fist of Fury (a.k.a. The Chinese Connection)

Also from the Bruce Lee Ultimate Collection, this one seems to have been somewhat the odd man out of the collection, as it’s the only one that was set in the past (well, ignoring that, by virtue of having been made in the early 70s, they’re ALL now set in the past), and had a somewhat more traditional kung fu plot of dueling martial arts schools. It was also big on playing up racial tensions between China and Japan, and had probably the most grim story and ending of all of Bruce Lee’s films.

That said, I liked it more than The Big Boss or Enter the Dragon, in part because of its overall viciousness. Lee infuses the film with a bit of righteous anger over the way the Japanese have treated the Chinese over the years. In one part, he is denied entrance to a place – I am rather uncertain exactly what the place was – by a doorman who points to a sign reading “NO DOGS AND CHINESE ALLOWED”, offensive both for its racism and for its poor grammar. Lee, being a reasonable man, naturally beats the shit out of the doorman and those damned racist Japs that come along and make fun of him for being barred. It’s precisely that kind of instant gratification that we love about the movies. Or at least that I love from the movies, because, you know, I’m not a Commie.

Even more than for the overall rage featured, this film is probably Bruce Lee’s real shining glory, however more infinitely better known Enter the Dragon is, as he’s just about doing a perfect Superman role in this. He casually jumps from a crouch over a fence that’s taller than he is. He’s a perfect master of disguise, dressing up as a rickshaw driver, an old man hawking newspapers, and a telephone repairman, each time outright verbally interacting with people trying to hunt him down and kill him, without once being found out. He also shows superhuman strength, as when he lifts up the aforementioned rickshaw, with a man in it, and heaves it across an alley, before going on to hit a Russkie (yes, the film even panders to 70s American audiences by throwing in an evil Russian so we can join in on the racial tensions) so hard that he sees trails. If he had only turned time back a day by flying counterclockwise around the Earth, he would have completely outshone Christopher Reeve.

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