Bullet Points: Edge of Fury
Many of the actors who were dubbed Bruce Lee Clones during The Bruceploitation Era of Hong Kong cinema were content with the niche they were able to carve out for themselves. From listening to Bruceploitation expert Michael Worth on The Clones Cast, I have heard that Bruce Le was so into being a Clone that he would even act like Bruce Lee at home and Dragon Lee would still be making Bruceploitation movies today if somebody was producing them.
Bruce Li was different. Bruce Li wanted to be more than just a Bruce Lee Clone.
1978’s Edge of Fury felt like an attempt by Bruce Li to get out from under the massive shadow cast by the late Bruce Lee. Some cuts of the film actually credit Bruce Li by his birth name Ho Chung Tao (others credit him as Ho Tsung-Tao and others Bruce Li Shao Lung). The plot of Edge of Fury was also not a rehash of the plot of one of Bruce Lee’s movies or an attempt to piggy back off one of Bruce Lee’s films. Even a minor thing like Bruce Li’s character in Edge of Fury not being named Bruce was a sign that Li was looking to start a new chapter in his acting career…
- Driving Mr. Chen: Fong (Bruce Li) is the chauffeur and loyal employee to Mr. Chen, a wealthy Hong Kong businessman. Fong’s world is rocked when the news hits that his boss, Mr. Chen, was arrested on narcotics charges while on a business trip in Thailand. At first Fong refuses to believe that his boss could be involved in something so nefarious. Mr. Chen was the man who gave Fong a job when he was down on his luck, Mr. Chen was the same man who gave Fong money to help cover his mother’s medical expenses. Mr. Chen would often task Fong with looking after his young son and of all the people in his employee, it was Fong that Mr. Chen entrusted with a sealed envelope and instructions to deliver the envelope to Mr. Chen’s lawyer in the event anything catastrophic should ever happen (the envelope contained Chen’s will). After Chen’s arrest, the Hong Kong police, some of Chen’s business associates and Chen’s gold digging trophy wife and her new boyfriend take special interest in the bond that was shared between Fong and Chen.
- The King and Li: When word gets out that Fong talked to the police, one of Chen’s underworld colleagues, the bow tie wearing Mr. King (Yasuaki Kurata), orders his top enforcer Gau Jai (played by Tommy Lee, who also served as the movie’s fight choreographer) and some of his other hired muscle to see what Fong had to say to the cops and to find out if Fong knows where Chen stashed the drugs he had been smuggling into Hong Kong. This decision by Mr. King gives us our first real taste of martial arts action as Fong finds himself outnumbered as he battles the hired thugs on top of cargo containers on the docks. This sequence was my favorite in the entire movie with Fong throwing and kicking guys off containers left and right. Fong manages to escape with only a few minor cuts and bruises, but Mr. King is not done with him. Since the heavy handed approach did not work, King goes in a different direction and has a messenger summon Fong to his office. It is there that Mr. King offers Fong a job and sets Fong and his mother up with a new flat in downtown Hong Kong. With Fong in the fold now, Mr. King hopes Fong will share the information that Mr. King so badly wants… but Fong honestly has no idea where the drugs are… still Mr. King is having none of it so he resorts to…
- Plan C from Outer Hong Kong: Gau Jai kidnaps Fong’s girlfriend (who is never referred to by name, we just know that she is dating Fong) and then delivers an ultimatum to Fong, tell Mr. King where the drugs are or else his girlfriend dies! Fong honestly has no clue where the drugs are, but with his back against the wall, he agrees to find the drugs in exchange for the safe return of his girl… so Fong starts his frantic search! The first place he looks is Chen’s home. When he arrives, Fong has to deal with Chen’s widow, who comes on to Fong because in addition to being a gold digger, she is a whore. While he is there, he sees a photograph of Chen’s son taken at a piece of property Chen owned out in the country and that is when the light bulb goes off in Fong’s head. So he invites Chen’s son along and the two go looking for hidden drugs at Chen’s place in the country. To recap, this kid is already dealing with the death of his father, he saw his step mom making out with her boyfriend and now he is with his buddy Fong looking for drugs… Fong does find the drugs and makes the call to get his girl back, but if you think that exchange goes down smoothly, you’ve never seen an action movie before!
Edge of Fury is a great example of the proverbial double edged sword. Here is a movie that has nothing to do with Bruce Lee whatsoever, yet it is lumped in as just another Bruceploitation film because it stars Bruce Li. I may even start referring to Edge of Fury as Bruce’s Double Edged Sword going forward… although that sounds like it could be the title of an actual Bruceploitation film.
Bruce Li wanted to be more than a Clone of Bruce Lee. For those of you who want more of this review, check out the Bonus Bullet Points…
- If You Ever: …wanted to see Bruce Li play with a toy helicopter, then this is the movie for you.
- Speedy Trial: Mr. Chen is arrested, convicted and executed before we even get to the final act of the movie. They don’t play around in Thailand.
- Word of Advice: If Edge of Fury taught me anything it is that if a hot chick shows you her boobs, you should probably be appreciative of it and not laugh it off. Otherwise it won’t end well for you or her.
- It’s Those Damn Drugs: At some point in the film, the drugs that everyone is looking for start to be referred to as “the goods”. Once they are referred to as “the goods”, they don’t stop. I am not exaggerating when I say Edge of Fury may hold the record for the amount of times “the goods” is said in a movie.
- Heartless Quote: “Your mother could fall down dead in the street, we could not give a damn!”
- Rockwell Syndrome: A mysterious man named KJ spends much of the movie watching Fong from a distance. At first it appears that he is just a spy for Mr. King, but by the end of the movie we learn he is something much different.
- Worst Toast Ever: Fong is invited to Mr. King’s birthday bash and strongly encouraged to give a toast to his new employer Mr. King. So, Fong goes over raises his glass and says “Have a great day!”. This beats out George Costanza’s curse filled toast at Bobby Leighton’s wedding and Captain Lou Albano’s inappropriate toast of “I’ve got a girl who lives on a hill. She won’t, but her sister will.” at the wedding of Paul “Butcher” Vachon as worst toast ever!