Tang shan da xiong (Hong Kong, 1971)
Written and Directed by Lo WeiStarring: Bruce Lee, James Tien, Nora Miao.
Plot in one sentence: Bruce Lee uncovers a drug-trafficking plot at an ice factory and beats the crap out of all the baddies.
-Certainly Bruce Lee.
-One or two instances of fairly graphic violence. Some stabbings, axe violence, severed human heads in blocks of ice plus a corpse hacked with an industrial circular saw – not bad for 1971!
What doesn’t work:
- Relatives whom Bruce’s meant to protect are a pack of thick, hateful, physically unattractive people. Good thing they ALL die!
- Bruce’s romantic interest’s name sounds like “Chow Mein”(no wonder he ends up bedding a prostitute instead).
- Ever the stickler to promises, Bruce doesn’t really get fighting till all his mates have been massacred(the last 20 mins)
Even not being a huge Martial Arts cinema enthusiast I admit that Bruce Lee films are something special. “The Big Boss” is a favorite – this cheap and dirty little film is the nearest Bruce has ever come to making an out-and-out exploitation film.
“The Big Boss” has some dull stretches, namely the primitive dialogue and perfunctory exposition scenes which do bog it down at times. Patient viewer will be rewarded with some great fight scenes toward the end.
There’s a brief scene where Bruce Lee kicks a guy, making him crash through a wall, leaving a human-silhouetted hole. Apparently, Bruce didn’t like that bit, but director Lo Wei got his way. It certainly is a bizarre comic-bookish touch which doesn’t quite sit well with the rest of the film but that’s precisely why I like it – nothing like a bit of transgression now and then!
Delirious psychedelic funk score adds to the overall trashy ambiance. Apparently, there are like 3 distinctly different scores for “The Big Boss”. I haven’t a clue which version I’ve got.
At least it doesn’t include “Pink Floyd” music, like “Ninja Terminator” did.
If I had to describe “The Big Boss” in one word, I would use “boring”. Why do I champion this film then? Because it’s a rare example of a Martial Arts film that doesn’t try and work-in a few “comic relief” scenes to dilute the violence or introduce any “spiritual journey of the warrior” crap to disguise it. Unlike Jackie Chan films, “The Big Boss” has the balls to be just what it is – politically incorrect, exciting and crude ode to violence and rebellion regardless of consequences. In other words, it’s just plain amoral. “The Big Boss”, I salute you!