The Big Boss

Year: 1971
Director: Wei Lo
Cast: Bruce Lee
Before seeing this movie on DVD, I'd never got around to watching a Bruce Lee film. Not very Tarantino of me, I know, but now I have, I can both see the charm and laugh derisively at the schlock quality. The early Asian Kung Fu film movement is as cheap, tacky and corny as the Italian Zombie horror films of the seventies. Just watch not only Bruce and various villains but guard dogs fly through the air in attack (the dogs with their paws outstretched in terror after obviously being thrown through the air).

And on the original video release, the dubbing is so bad it's almost like some comedy skit show's idea of badly dubbed movies.

In the favour of the whole institution of east Asian cinema however, it's a very old movie and made for their own market, which of course isn't as demanding as the global audience of the early twenty first century we belong to now.

Bruce is the long lost cousin to a houseful of factory workers, bought in by his kindly uncle under a promise to his mother not to fight (alluding to a chequered past).

Finding work at the factory (producing ice, one of the unwittingly fascinating comments made by the film on the state of Chinese culture and economics), he soon learns of disappearances that have occurred there, one of which we witness; two workers who've seen the drugs being smuggled in the ice are offered a cut and then murdered when they refuse.

Being promoted to foreman, Lee makes his own enquiries but ostracises himself from his housemates and friends when they think he's being too soft with the explanation given by the factory manager and the owner (The Big Boss of the title, looking a lot like a young, skinny Leonard Nimoy with one of those joke glasses, nose and moustaches on).

When the manager is trying to curry favour with Lee to get him drunk and laid one night, the factory goons murder the entire household, and Bruce has to break his solemn promise and kick some arse.

I expected it to almost be like a porno - with short scenes of woeful dialogue and bad acting before an extended fight scene, but was disappointed in even that; long sequences of drama and exposition (made all the more agonising because of the shoddiness of the production) drag out. There's only about three fight scene worth mentioning and they showcase the aforementioned 'imaginative' editing more so than Lee's legendary skills.

It was so-bad-it's-good, but too much bad and not enough good - not even the good I looked forward too. Maybe Lee's later, America-friendly efforts were better.

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