A good evening to you all and welcome to my resolution busting 78th Film Flare entry.
If you are as excited and as happy as I am, then you shouldn't be. But you should be happy and excited, no doubt.
Tonight's entry is a stone cold kung fu classic from 1972, starring the seminal Bruce Lee, in a film which helped to initiate the 'Golden era of Kung Fu cinema' (a phrase which simply rocks my world). Other classic films from this 'era' includes the wonderful The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and the educational (and widely copied) Five Deadly Venoms.
Fist of Fury (1972)
Directed by Lo Wei, the influencial Hong Kong director of New Fist of Fury (starring Jackie Chan), this film is the simply told tale of revenge and honour. Bruce Lee's character, Chen, returns to a kung fu school to marry his fiance but instead finds his master murdered with poison. Some Japanese martial arts students from a rival dojo turn up and insult the dead master, and Chen takes it upon himself to exact revenge and to find the killers of his master.
Bruce Lee has undeniable charisma and charm but it is a performance far from his best work of Way of the Dragon and Enter the Dragon. He shakes violently, twitches and stares into the distance as a man who defies the wish of his martial arts brothers and desires more to commit violent and vengeanful acts which causes more trouble for the martial arts school. However, his martial arts scenes are poetic and stunning in their skill and ferocity. Unlike later films where his fights seem a lot more measured (apart from the fight with Bob Hope from Enter the Dragon), in this film, Bruce is pretty hardcore. He ends up beating several people to death with his fist of fury and in some cases, hanging the bodies up as warnings.
But there is nothing but joy felt when you see Lee walk into an enemies dojo and just take them all on. He picks up the nunchuka and you almost feel giddy when he starts using it. I found many similarities between this one fight and the fight in the House of the Blue Leaves in Kill Bill Vol. 1 with Uma vs the Crazy 88. It is in places like this where you suddenly are aware of the influence this film has, not only on further kung fu films but on culture itself. So many cliches of the badly dubbed yet entertaining script, the zoom shots on Lee's eyes and skilfully directed fight scenes which the genre is famous for.
The other cast do perfectly well, certainly the other chinese martial artists and police are pretty well portrayed. The Japanese villains and the turncoat translator character are pretty comical in their portrayal but several of them give Lee good fight scenes, which is their ultimate purpose I suppose. Certainly the police chief (played by Lo Wei himself) is played well and really makes you feel the situation this character is in and how he wants his allegiances to go.
But certainly the acting and the story are not the main draws of the film. That is Lee himself. The producers knew it when they were making the film and if you want to see Bruce Lee do amazing martial arts, then this film will hit every spot you could hope for. It does lack a lot of the philosophical and intellectual teachings Lee tried to apply in Enter the Dragon, which if you want to see the best of Bruce Lee, is the film you should be starting off with. But this film is a wonderful piece of cinema which amply showcases Lee's exceptional talent and charisma.
And speaking of trailers. Here is Benedict Cumberbatch's sexy-ass villain voice dominating an otherwise generic looking sci-fi/action trailer! Star Trek into Darkness.
Also, just as a side note, I'm sick and tired of every saying that every blockbuster film with a dark tone is now 'ripping off' The Dark Knight Rises. That film didn't have a goddam monopoly on dark trailers people.....
Until next week. Keep watching the stars. (R.I.P Patrick Moore.)