DVD Reviews \ Fist Of Fury

Fist of Fury was the first Bruce Lee film I saw and regularly tops the fans' all time favourite list and it's easy to see why. If his firery performance in THE BIG BOSS lit the fuse for us all, then FIST OF FURY was the explosion. This is the movie where Bruce Lee finally got a free reign in demonstarting his high-impact fight choreography and boy, he didn't let anyone down....The film itself is a great leap forward from The Big Boss. From the sets to the costumes, from camera placement to lighting techniques everything in this production has been cranked up several notches. In short, it's a very slick presentation and looks it. Building on an ultra-patriotic theme the director Lo Wei,( probably inadvertantly) created the 20th century's greatest Chinese hero and one of the greatest revenge action flicks of all time.

Packaging

I know I keep repeating myself but I am NOT fond of the HKL covers of these discs. Yes, they're nicely done but hardly 'must have' in terms of collectability. All dull black and grey backgrounds. If it wasn't for the dynamic shot of Bruce you could be forgiven for thinking it was some kind of sombre drama or 'Salvation' type Horror film.

The Film

Once again HKL have come up trumps. This is undoubtably their best restoration of the series. The anamorphic widescreen transfer comes with a fabulous defined picture with virtually no scratches and only a couple of noticeable fine lines present.The colour is vibrant and rich, bringing out the best in the film's great sets, backgrounds and lighting.Audio comes in Dolby Digital 5:1 (English or Cantonese) and is a 'controversial' mix. In the opening graveyard scene the air crackles with thunder while rain comes crashing down form all sides. A terrific audio moment. Sadly the rest of the track dosen't live up to this due to the overuse of echo and displacement effects. Bruce's blows sound a tad 'tinny' in some of the combat scenes and at one point the track briefly returns to it's mono origins. This shift is quite audible, though plus points should be awarded for the nice touch of enhanced bird sounds in the backgound of the Shanghai Park scene.Dialogue is crisp and clear though a small portion is missing from Nora Miao's lips in the( English version ) graveyard/romantic scene.

A couple more gaffes include the sudden appearance of (the REAL) Bruce's voice dubbing Bob Baker's line "Let me take of him" and the substitution of the closing Chinese vocal with Mike Remedios' English version - wiping Bruce's final scream off the track. SACRILIGE!The usual 30 chapter stops and English and Dutch subtitles can be accessed.

Menus

Main Menu

This features some nice widescreen action clips framed in a red 'burning' effect.

Special Features Menus

The menu feature small changing still pictures backed by a haunting female vocal that could have come from an Ennio Morricone 'Spaghetti' soundtrack. Eerily effective.

Special Features

Trailers

UK promo Trailer

This is patterned after the main menu, complete with the haunting female vocal set to some striking slow motion images before blasting into rapidly changing fight action and superb 'thunder and lightning' effects. Extremely cool.

Original HK Trailer

Its presented full frame and is is very good nick for it's age. Opening to the strains of Also Spracht Zarathustra (from '2001 a Space Odyssey') it's the usual long 'swirling captioned' type thing.I actually like this one a lot.

Photo Galleries

Divided into not less than FOUR collections:

Production Gallery

Comprises of original FOH (Front of House or Lobby Cards), posters and stills in b&w and colour.

Bonus Big Boss Gallery

Has the original UK FOH stills and was probably a bit too late to include on that film's disc.

Tracking the Dragon Gallery

This is a superb set of 28 magnificent rare b&w stills from the illustrious George Tan's archive and backed up with text to accompany each still. The best feature of the disc.

Making of' Gallery

Has some 'behind the scenes' shots along with more FOH stills, posters and video covers set to some guitar based music.

Interviews

Max Lee (aka 'Sifu Jai')

He's featured in the film as a Japanese bad guy and tells us something about his life before leadaing into his work on the film with Bruce. Max tells of Bruce's superb control in the fight scenes and how he developed the new high water-mark in screen choreography. A really interesting interview.

Tony Liu (Lau Wing)

Tony looks very dapper in this interview (He was filming a TV series where he portrayed a rich Solicitor) and is very candid in his comments on how he compared his Karate to Bruce's JKD. Thinking he could 'hold his own' (no pun intended!) against Bruce when sparring, he soon realised that Bruce was a true and powerful Master and gave up his Karate to follow him. I wonder if this was the basis for the scene in way of the dragon where Tony urges his fellow waiters to 'give up Karate'?!

Commentary

Once again the renowned HK Cinema expert Bey Logan takes to the microphone. Another winning commentary choc-full of facts, this time leaning more towards the technical side from a guy who understands HK cinema like no-one else.

Summary

A truly legendary film on a superb dvd, let down only by the varying sound quality. A must-have purchase for the casual fan or the die hard anorak.

Rating out of 5: