Case Number 25851: Small Claims Court


The Big Boss
Shout! Factory // 1971 // 99 Minutes // Not Rated
Fist Of Fury
Shout! Factory // 1972 // 107 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // June 20th, 2013

The Charge

"Everybody was Kung Fu fighting!"

The Case

The man, the myth, the icon...Bruce Lee. It's exciting to see a release that gives us two of his first big films in one single box, but then you realize this isn't what fans were hoping for.

The Big Boss is a 1971 feature known under a couple of different titles (including Fists of Fury to truly muddy the water). This was one made Bruce Lee a star, even though it was intended more as a vehicle for proven Asian celebrity James Tien. The plot is about an ice factory used as a front for a drug dealing operation. Bruce Lee plays Cheng, a man who discovers the truth and must fight his way out. The Big Boss originally featured a lot of graphic violence, but it was cut to shreds by Hong Kong censors who wanted to tame down the content. The version found here includes only the English language dub. Visually it looks okay, but rough around the edges including not so vibrant color and a lack of detail. The whole experience pales in comparison to Fox's Bruce Lee Ultimate Collection and any number of Hong Kong releases which include a Blu-ray upgrade.

Fist of Fury came out in 1972, and was also known under many names such as The Chinese Connection and The Iron Hand. Lee plays Chen Zen, a student who must avenge the death and reputation of his honorable teacher, taking on a gang of Japanese fighters alone and coming out on top. Like its predecessor, this feature offers no extras, and we are experiencing the film through a tinny English dub and a washed out looking print. I imagine this is what the film looked like in a 1972 grindhouse, but in 2013 we're expecting a bit more from the experience.

Shout! Factory has been an amazing resource for "B" movie aficionados, giving us great packages with lots of extras. Unfortunately, this particular Bruce Lee double feature is not something to write home about, other than these two flicks do play well together. True Bruce Lee faithful own better versions of these films already, but if you're just looking for a couple of fun martial arts camp feasts, this may fit the bill. After all, it is a cheap way to get two films for the price of one.

I certainly had a grand time just seeing this pair of violent revenge fantasies play out in their drive-in glory. I just wish the sound wasn't that close to a metal speaker hanging off my window, and the picture a faded mess that might look good outside sixty feet high. Much can be said for nostalgia, but in my upscaling DVD player is not the place where that can be found.

The Verdict

Guilty! Somebody needs to karate chop whoever approved these transfers in the neck.

Review content copyright © 2013 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice, The Big Boss
Judgment: 76

Perp Profile, The Big Boss
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

* None

Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 1971
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, The Big Boss
* None

Scales of Justice, Fist Of Fury
Judgment: 70

Perp Profile, Fist Of Fury
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

* None

Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 1972
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Fist Of Fury
* None

* IMDb: The Big Boss

* IMDb: Fist of Fury