There are some movies where there is no question as to why they are considered classics. Fist of Fury, Bruce Lee’s most successful film in Asia, is one of those. The story may be simple (Bruce Lee plays a student avenging the death of his teacher, who was poisoned by Japanese martial artists), the second act sags (badly — the scenes where Bruce disguises himself and spies on the Japanese could easily be dropped), and sometimes Bruce’s philosophy of acting seems to be to provide quantity over quality (“Why did you kill my teacher?! Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?!”), but the fight scenes are fast, and fluid, complex and vicious, and Bruce Lee’s incredible charisma shines in every scene.

What’s strange is that though this movie was a huge hit and made Bruce Lee an icon, it had almost no effect on the HK martial arts film at all. After Bruce Lee died in 1973 open hand fighting became a bit more common in movies and there were couple of movies that followed Lee’s example (set in Way of the Dragon) and shot overseas, but in general Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest kept pumping out the exact kind of martial arts films they did before 1973. If anything, the next big movement in martial arts films was the “Five Venoms” type, which were actually less realistic and more mannered than earlier films, moving in exactly the opposite direction Bruce Lee seemed to want to go. It wasn’t until Jackie Chan making modern day martial arts film in the early 1980s that it seemed like someone had learned something from what Bruce Lee had been trying to do.

fistoffury003.jpg
Maybe he works for an HMO.

fistoffury006.jpg
A whole six pack of whup-ass is about to be opened.

fistoffury007.jpg
“I love camping out.”

fistoffury009.jpg
“Have you seen my cat? I’ve been looking everywhere!”