DVD Review: Fist of Fury
By Andy McKeague
Aug 27, 2005, 9:20 GMT
In Japanese occupied Shanghai, the locals are feeling the wrath of their Masters. Officials are corrupt and the Chinese people are down trodden as looked upon as lowly beings, almost as animals. In this political powder keg a martial arts student voices the spirit of the Chinese people and his Jin Wu gives them the boost to stand up and fight against their oppressors.
Donnie Yen puts on his best Bruce Lee impression in reprising Lee’s role of Chen Jun in ‘Fist of Fury’. This martial arts TV extravaganza was originally played out as a half hour 30-part series. What you have here is a 2 hour edited movie version focussing on very much the same ground as the Lee hit in this fact based drama.
With the people being crushed by the Japanese Army, Master Fok Yuen (Eddy Ko) tries to unite all the Chinese martial arts schools to focus their spiritualities together and therefore let their heads be held high. There is much bitterness against this as many of the schools have fought for generations to keep their secrets exactly that; to commonise their schools seems like an insult. Trouble is never far away and the Japanese also believe that their style of Karate is the most impressive and organised art form, nothing that these animals could ascend too.
Fok Yuen becomes a target; his goal of a united China must be stopped at all costs. All of the Masters are picked off one by one and then Fok Yuen is challenged to a dual, which becomes an assassination.
The banished Chen Jun comes back to pay homage to his beloved and departed Master, and vows to take revenge. In doing so he becomes the voice and the hope against the tyranny.
Chen Jun also plays a tragic Romeo character, his Juliet is the daughter of the evil Japanese official, who is a fragile creature and forced to give up her love for Chen but that brings a family feud and sworn vengeance against his every turn.
It all sounds rather grand and I guess the actual background story is full of real heroics, but this is television. The action scenes and the period setting are quite impressive but they are unnecessarily speeded up or played through slow motion. There are several directors on hand and one of which, Benny Chan, knows how to make action movies so should know better. But I guess that was the feel they were trying to get but this spicing up of these scenes only seems to detract from the skills on show. Donnie Yen is equally impressive and quite a physical form on screen, acting also as the fight choreographer, he enacts some of Lee’s fight scenes right down to the nose wipes and the dancing feet. Yes, the strangled chicken and monkeys noises are there too.
The down side of this is that culling fifteen hours of material down to just under two, you are going to loose something. The plot and the action play out coherently enough but it leaves you with a feeling of only watching a snippet on show, of which you are. The movies comes with the options of the original Cantonese with English subtitles, or a dubbed English version, while the later is pretty good there are no translations of signs and such which is a hindrance.
Tai Seng have done a great job bringing this TV epic to DVD, and one can only hope that some day the full series will be made available. Don’t despair too much by the tragic ending because the prequel, ‘Fist of Fury Sworn Revenge’
will be out later in September.
On the extras front is a very big tease, the ‘making of’
looks at the entire series and not just the movie on show, so it’s filled with scenes and fights and stunts not present. It boosts that the show was crammed with over 750 martial artists and stuntmen with over 10,000 extras; since this was the first joint effort from both Star TV and ATV it had to be big. There are two excellent audio commentaries, the first and better of the two is by 'Red Trousers'
star and helmer Robin Shou, and the second being from Yen himself. To finish things off there is a Donnie Yen text biography and a few trailers for this and other Tai Seng releases, including the excellent ‘Running Out of Time’
(released next month in the UK).
'Fist of Fury' is available now via Amazon
, or it can be ordered directly from Tai Seng
You can read more about the DVD in our database