One man. One style. One legend.
There's not much to say about New Fist of Fury for the casual film fan, because it is essentially just a series of action set pieces. It is a spiritual sequel to Fist of Fury, sometimes referred to as The Chinese Connection, which is considered a kung fu classic. Taking that into account, New Fist of Fury is not great, but on its own, it isn't bad viewing. As far as bargain bin movies go, it's more fun to watch Jackie Chan than, say, Jeff Speaks. But it isn't fun at all to watch Jeff Speaks, so it's relative. What you really need to know is that this is not a lost classic, and any number of Chan's more well-known movies are a better viewing experience. But this is also a fun movie for what it is, and worthy viewing for Chaniacs.
This is not a film terribly occupied with story. It's there (something about a brother and sister on the run), but the film never purports to take the plot much into account. This is a series of encounters, as all good martial arts movies should have. This is the film's weakness: In a genre made or broken by the fight scenes, New Fist of Fury comes out busted in the nose most of the time. Other than a spirited finale, many of the fight scenes here fail to excite.
The problem with a movie that wants to summon up the spirit of a Bruce Lee classic is that Chan has a completely different persona from Lee, and it doesn't lend itself to this material. Even Lee's most low key fight scenes were fun because of how mentally unstable he seemed in his crazy eyes. You would never, ever want to tick him off, because after he beat you with your own shoes, he might eat you. Chan is the master of Klown-Fu, often using self-deprecating humor and cartoonish predicaments to navigate him through his films. That fun personality is muted here, and the film doesn't give him any moments to shine. Chan is all smiles, but with none of his nimble Buster Keaton slapstick, he just seems like a happy idiot. (Albeit a happy idiot who could pummel me into soot.)
The film is presented in widescreen, and is for the most part riddled with scratches and dirt. To be honest, I liked this, if only for giving the film more of the retro feel that is so important to enjoying camp like this. In a perverse way, I want to see the original Star Wars trilogy in this fashion on DVD. The sound is flat, which always bugs me, but again it seems appropriate.
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