Friday, February 25, 2011

The Big Boss

Bruce Lee is the most legendary of the martial arts invincible fighters of the 20th century and with good reason. He is incredibly impressive visually and quite charismatic and most importantly he died at the peak of his powers. That's not to say he couldn't kick any of Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, and Jackie Chan's asses (probably all 3 at once to boot) but dying pretty much solidifies his legend permanently. Regardless of how powerful Bruce was with his one inch punches and lowest body fat ratio ever recorded the "Legend of Bruce" will always be much more dangerous. While I've heard dozens of different stories about how he died and all sorts of random stuff about how he could punch through a concrete wall or a 20 ft thick steel safe and how he killed Superman with his bare hands its pretty hard to say just how apocryphal those tales are.

This is the key thing that goes along with dying early, JFK died before he really did anything in office apart from fuck over the Bay of Pigs and then fix it a little during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but since he died and appeared to be charismatic that's enough for him to be one of the best presidents in history by default. A 10 year forecast of landing on the moon which turned out to be a success simply solidified Kennedy's legendary status (despite it being a shot in the dark), he might have banged Marilyn Monroe and been a ridiculous adulterer but that doesn't matter because he died too soon to ever say anything contemptuous about him.

Okay enough about legends and how silly they become, on to the movie! Bruce movies all follow a pretty typical story arc; Bruce refuses to fight for the first half of the movie for whatever arbitrary reason (and of course if he did everyone knows he'd kick everyone's asses in 5 seconds and make the movie about 5 minutes long), people die and/or there's a damsel in distress and he gets pissed off enough to save them whilst looking mighty impressive doing so, random nudity for no apparent reason except to ensure the film gets an R rating, Bruce takes his shirt off for serious business and shows off all those muscles you never knew humans had, Bruce wins! Naturally this isn't an amazing set of plot elements but credit to Bruce: he did it first and I still tend to like these films much better than Chuck's or Jackie's or Seagal's (well especially Seagal since he can't act worth shit).

This film is Bruce Lee's first role as the primary protagonist. However it has a really stupid plot even for a Martial Arts flick. Bruce winds up in some random location with some cousins and friends working in a factory, he has been told by his dear old ma that he should stop fighting and has a necklace keepsake to remind him so, fortunately one of his cousins is Robin and beats down a bunch of random people, needless to say Bruce feels secure in his pacifism. But then some of his cousins discover drugs at the factory and the foreman kills them to keep them quiet! O NOES! Robin and random guy are off to the rescue but die horribly after a glorious last stand. This first part is pretty standard, but after that it gets absurd. Bruce defends the workers after they threaten to strike to get the workers back (they think they're missing or something) and gets promoted to foreman, he then gets wasted for no particular reason at a whorehouse and random naked model cameo happens, but then, 10 minutes before the end of the movie, he finally realizes he should investigate the factory and discovers the dead bodies of his buds. Bruce is shocked! He goes home and finds the rest of his buds including some random kid are also dead, but there's one last chick left to save and vengeance! And then he kicks some old dude's ass, the end.

Okay, so the plot really sucks but the fighting scenes are pretty sweet (especially the ones involving Batman instead of Robin) and Bruce is as charismatic and silly as ever. He fights off about 10 guys at once three times in the film and brutalizes about half of them, unlike the Way of the Dragon this movie would probably be R regardless due to random blood fountains. The music is kind of goofy in an old 70s movie sort of way but I liked it. I listened to the voice overs for about 5 minutes before turning on Cantonese and subtitles and afterward that part was much more bearable. I have a basic understanding of Mandarin but simply listening to Bruce speak rather than random guy X makes the film work much better even if you can't understand it (standard for these kinds of movies). I enjoyed the movie both for comedic value and glorious Bruce jump kicking people in the face.

Final Score: 6.5/10

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