Friday, 21 November 2014

Fist of Fury (4¾ Stars)

We are not sick men!

This film, the second martial arts film made by Bruce Lee, takes place in Shanghai in 1908. The city has been occupied by the Japanese since 1895. The Chinese are virtually slaves in their own country, second-class citizens with no rights.

Chen Zhen (Bruce Lee) returns to Shanghai after a long absence. When he goes to the Jingwu School to visit his master, he finds that his master has recently died, supposedly killed by stomach ulcers and pneumonia. He soon discovers that the real cause of death is poisoned biscuits served to him by a Japanese cook. The cook was acting under instructions from a Japanese Bushido school. The new leader of the Jingwu School advises Chen to do nothing, because there will be repercussions from the Japanese rulers, but Chen goes on a one-man crusade to take revenge.

After Bruce's relatively small part in his previous film, he takes centre stage in "Fist of Fury" from beginning to end. James Tien appears once more as a student in the school, but he only takes part in brief fight scenes.

In 1972 when the film was made anti-Japanese feelings were still high in China. There were cheers in Hong Kong cinemas when Bruce Lee spoke the now famous words, "We are not sick men".

I feel a little guilty for giving this film anything less than five stars, but I found the sound quality off-putting. According to the DVD box the film has been remastered. The picture looks reasonable, though not perfect, but the sound still hisses. The English dubbed track is cleaner than the original Cantonese, but I prefer to watch the original version with subtitles. I'm not a snob who rejects dubbing outright, but in the case of this film it was ridiculous. The person who did Bruce Lee's voice has a booming American accent which sounds completely out of place.

I feel like I should write more, but I'm suffering from a bad cold today. I feel a bit light-headed and can't concentrate on writing. I hope I'm not getting a flu.

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