Friday, January 16, 2015

Film Review: The Chinese Connection (aka Fist of Fury) (1972)

The Chinese Connection (aka Fist of Fury) (Review)
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a very fun experience..."

Chen Zhen (Bruce Lee) returns to Shanghai to marry his fiance, but finds his master has tragically passed.

The Chinese Connection, or Fist of Fury, follows Chen as he returns home to this tragic news. Soon after the funeral, his school is threatened by a Japanese school of martial arts. After Chen shows his exemplary skill, he begins to investigate his master's death -- Chen believes his master's death was too sudden to be caused by a natural illness. So, Chen seeks his vengeance with one epic battle after another and a fantastic climax. The ending was also surprising -- I liked it.

I really enjoyed most of The Chinese Connection. The story is simple yet engaging. There is plenty of action, as well as a pinch of humor. The action is ferocious, as one would rightfully expect from a Bruce Lee flick. There are some "outdated" scenes, like Chen swinging around obvious rag dolls, but they add to the charm of the film. The humor is a result of Chen's often quirky character or some slapstick comedy added into the action. It's a very fun experience with some effective drama.

However, some of the drama and romance is ineffective -- particularly the sappy love subplot. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind drama in my action films, but this subplot didn't work for me -- it wasn't developed properly enough to be effective. It really hindered the film's momentum, too; you'll have several action scenes and major plot points, then the film will suddenly slow down for this plot. It made it feel longer than the actual runtime. Aside from this filler, I didn't have any issues with the film.

I've only ever watched the English dubs of Bruce Lee's films. I'm not even sure there's an original dub out there. (if there is, please point me to it.) I'm not a big fan of dubs, but they seem to work for old-school kung-fu films -- it's part of the charm. Bruce Lee is fantastic in this film -- he's filled with wild energy and genuine charisma. (I admire Bruce Lee more than you can imagine.) The music is great, too. I enjoyed the camerawork during the action scenes, very engaging. Director Lo Wei delivers a very entertaining experience; the momentum is hindered by the romance, but the action and humor is splendid.

Overall, The Chinese Connection is a great film. I had a great time watching the film. The action is exhilarating, the humor is effective, and Bruce Lee delivers energy that hardly anyone can match -- energy that's transfered to the audience from the screen. (If you've never tried to tried to imitate Bruce Lee after watching one of his movies, something may be wrong with you. Or maybe there's something wrong with me?) Although not without its flaws, I consider The Chinese Connection a kung fu classic. If you need something faster and more "serious," I recommend Ip Man or The Raid -- especially the excellent sequel to the latter.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some nudity during a strip tease.

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