Fists of Fury (1971)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Martial Arts  |   Release Date - Mar 22, 1972 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - Hong Kong  |   MPAA Rating - R
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This kung-fu quickie introduced the world to the martial arts skills of Bruce Lee. Although the film itself is hit and miss, action fans will want to check it out for an early example of his prowess as an action star. Fists of Fury falls prey to a lot of the problems common in early '70s martial arts films; in other words, it has a predictable plot line, cartoonish acting, and awful dubbing. Despite these hindrances, Fists of Fury benefits from two strong attributes. The first is solid direction from veteran Hong Kong filmmaker Lo Wei. He keeps the plot's familiar elements flowing smoothly and brings a gritty verve to the film's many fight scenes. However, the film's key attribute is the presence of Bruce Lee; he carries himself with charisma of a star and brings a singular blend of gracefulness and macho swagger to the fight scenes. Strangely, the plot keeps him out of the action for half of the film, but when he gets to do his thing, the results are quite memorable. The best example is the finale, which features Lee taking on a gang of hired killers and their vicious boss without ever showing a second of fear or doubt. In the end, casual viewers may find Fists of Fury to be a bit dated, but any fan of Bruce Lee will be interested to see where he got his start.