Sunday, 1 July 2007

Fists of Fury (1971)

Alternative English title: The Big Boss.
Chinese title: Big Brother From Tangshan.

Fists of Fury (1971)This movie suffers the worst problem in its title translations. First of all, there're several other movies called Fists of Fury as well as one called Fist of Fury in American market. Fist of Fury is in fact the title of Bruce Lee's next movie, which is also known as The Chinese Connection, to add to the confusion. The best thing would be for the American distributor to follow the Asian counterpart and call this movie The Big Boss.

All these different titles were used before internet where there were little chance of confusion. With the arrival of the internet, geographical boundaries break down and we come to know the multiple titles came up by different distributors.

It's easy to understand why they wanted to change the Chinese title as 'big brother' is too loaded a word in English (Orwellian 1984, Big Brother Reality Show, etc). 'Big brother' in Chinese is unambiguous. It's somebody who protects you. 'Tangsha' is Tang Mountain in Canton province - a term synonymous with China. Cantonese people call Chinese as 'Tang people'.

SB's wuxia had reached another new height with King Hu's A Touch of Zen (1971), and just at this time, out of nowhere a Chinese kid - or should I say, big brother - from America (originally from HK) had dealt a heavy blow to the SB's popular wuxia genre with his impressive trademarked kicks, and powerful punches.

HK audience were familiar with martial arts before, but never anything like this, and was love at the 1st sight for many.

GH (Golden Harvest) just opened its door for business only a year earlier. With SB years of experience and huge resources, its staple productions of wuxia had reached new heights. On the other hand, GH managed only to produce a few inferior wuxia flicks, and far from being a threat to the old giant SB.

With Raymond Chow's foresight of Bruce Lee's talents, and able business skills, he managed to win Bruce Lee over to make movies with GH. Bruce Lee's film boosted GH's revenues, and more importantly, profile. GH became a force to be reckon with, and broke the monopoly that Shaw Brothers had enjoyed for over 3 decades.

With wuxia, the fresh start up of GH was no match for the old establishment of SB, but with Bruce Lee's creation of the new genre of kungfu, GH was now ahead of the game, setting trend instead of following SB's lead.

Bruce Lee had altered the very shape of the HK martial arts film industry with this starter.

The kungfu genre had arrived with this film. A landmark film in the true sense.

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