The Big Boss (1971)

The Big Boss (1971) was also known as Fists of Fury 1971).

The Big Boss (1971)
The Big Boss (1971) Poster

The Big Boss (1971) is an action crime drama directed by Wei Lo, the director known for helping Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan on their way to becoming stars. The Big Boss (1971) stars Bruce Lee, Maria Yi, James Tien, Yin-Chieh Han, and Tony Liu.

The Big Boss (1971) or Fists of Fury (1971) is Bruce Lee’s first major film and it solidifies his standing as one of the great action stars. In the story, a Chinese country boy, Chao-an Cheng (Bruce Lee), is sent to live in Thailand with his uncle and cousins. Chao-an is wearing a charm around his neck which represents his promise to his mother not to fight. This promise is repeatedly tested when he goes to work in the local icehouse with an abusive overseer and prejudiced Thai workers. When some of his cousins discover that the icehouse is actually a front for a heroin-smuggling operation, they are killed. Chao-an Cheng sets out to exact revenge and eventually has a showdown with the Japanese crime lord, (Ying-Chieh Han), who is behind the entire enterprise. There is no denying that this film showcases the blinding speed of Bruce Lees fists and feet.

The Big Boss” was released in Hong Kong on October 3, 1971, and in March 1973 in the United States, where it was re-titled Fists of Fury (1971). When they released the first original theatrical trailer they had not realized Bruce Lee’s box-office potential and instead they relied heavily on exploitation (sex and violence) as well as the recognition of past work by former Shaw director Wei Lo to attract audiences to the film. With all the re-release and international trailers they deleted the nudity and focused solely on Bruce Lee’s overnight success as a martial arts superstar which you can see in the above trailer.

Also in the trailer you will hear music from Shaw composer Fu-Ling Wang which is also heard in several other Shaw Brothers productions, as well as music taken from the DeWolfe library. The Cantonese version of the film actually contains music by Joseph Koo. In The Big Boss (1971), a young kung-fu fighter who has sworn an oath of non-violence works with his cousins in an ice factory. The fighter decides to break his oath and avenge his relatives after they are slain by their gangster boss.