The Big Boss
Starring Bruce Lee, James Tien, Han Chieh Yin, Maria Yi, Tony Liu,
Directed by Lo Wei
The Big Boss is one of the most famous movies in the world! Could it be because it starred a man that would go on to fascinate and inspire people even 40 years after his death? Probably so!
The Big Boss was Bruce Lee’s first foray into the martial arts genre of film ,THE film that revitalized the hand to hand combat genre of film, and the highest grossing Hong Kong film of 1971 ( HK3,197,417)! With this charismatic, handsome, and extremely talented martial arts actor Golden Harvest planted its stake in the world of martial arts film and made Shaw Brothers take notice!
Plot: Cheng Chao-An ( Bruce Lee) goes to Thailand to find work with his cousins in an ice factory. He promises his uncle not to get into fights but must break his vow when his cousins disappear and he learns that the ice factory runs drugs and the Boss (Han Chieh Yin) is behind the operations and the disappearance of his family.
The action choreography in The Big Boss is sometimes uneven. One can tell the difference between the fights choreographed and set up by Han Chieh Yin and the fights that Bruce Lee had his hand (and fists) into. Bruce’s fight scenes are more realistic, brutal, and shows off his incredible speed and precision. Han’s choreography is good, yet doesn’t seem as polished as Bruce’s ( mainly due to the limitations of the actors) and seems to be somewhat cartoonish violence. These minor criticisms aside I like the general feel of brutality, real kung fu ( no one is holding extended stances or trying to be artfully beautiful), and the emphasis on designing the fights to coincide with the modern setting (some modern fight directors should study this movie in relation to the aforementioned point). In these fights, however, the main focus in on Bruce Lee and with good reason! Although I enjoy the fight scenes in The Big Boss, I wouldn’t rank them as the best of Bruce Lee. The fight scenes in this movie are a great intro to the phenomenon of Bruce Lee but just as his movies did his fight scenes got better with time (probably because after The Big Boss he handled the choreography duties in his films).
Put this in your collection! Even if you are not a big Bruce Lee fan this movies deserves a look due to the historical repercussions alone: the revitalization of the kung fu pian ( film that focuses on hand to hand combat-which waned in popularity throughout the 1960’s), the introduction of the first true action mega star, and the emphasis on brutally effective film kung fu.