Bullet Points: New Fist of Fury
Back in 1976, Jackie Chan was a star on the rise laying the foundation for what would end up becoming a monumental movie career both in his native Hong Kong and here in the United States. Like many Hong Kong actors working in the 1970’s, Jackie found himself caught up in the tangled web of Bruceploitation cinema as Hong Kong filmmakers looked to fill the void after the untimely death of Bruce Lee.
Jackie Chan’s involvement in 1976’s New Fist of Fury differed from the movies the “Bruce Clones” were making in this time period. New Fist of Fury was presented as a sequel to Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury (aka The Chinese Connection). Since Bruce Lee’s character Chen Zhen died at the end of Fist of Fury, Chan did not have to take over the role of Chen Zhen. New Fist of Fury felt more like it was designed to be the passing of the torch from Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan.
- The Story Continues: Like in the original Fist of Fury, the story centers around Japanese occupation and the way the Japanese mistreat and bully the natives of the countries they now occupy. Nora Miao reprises her role as Miss Lee from Fist of Fury as she and some students from the Jing Wu school in Shanghai come to Taiwan looking for revenge on the Japanese baddies responsible for the execution of their friend Chen Zhen, who are now making life miserable for martial arts schools in Taiwan. When Miss Lee arrives she gets the expected harassment from the Japanese officials. Miss Lee tells them she is there to see her grandfather Master Su (this is a legit cover story, but she is really there to kick some Japanese ass). But while she expected trouble from the Japanese, she had no idea she would be the victim of local thief and guy with a reputation for getting into street fights, Ah Lung (Jackie Chan). Ah Lung managed to steal a wooden box from one of the bags of Miss Lee and her friends, while they were busy dealing with the Japanese.
- The #1 Free Agent: Ah Lung, who normally does not feel bad about stealing from strangers, is feeling a bit of remorse about the box he stole from Miss Lee as he tries to figure out what the object inside was… spoiler alert, it is nunchaku! Ah Lung decides to return the box and its contents to Miss Lee, but a funny thing happens on the way… he is approached by some of Okimura’s students. Okimura is the head Japanese baddie in the film and he is on a mission to have all the fighters in Taiwan train under his school. Okimura offers Ah Lung a chance to work in his casino and train at his martial arts school… Ah Lung refuses saying he hates “Japs” and that is about when Ah Lung gets his ass kicked by a gaggle of Okimura’s students and left in a ditch for dead. Ah Lung put up a helluva fight and even used the nunchaku… but the odds were stacked against him. Miss Lee and friends spot Ah Lung laying in the ditch and take him to Master Su’s to recover. Miss Lee sees something special in Ah Lung and isn’t even mad that he stole from her and she too offers to train him in the martial arts, but Ah Lung refuses the invite.
- The Pearl Harbor Moment: Okimura (Chan Sing) proved to be an awesome villain for the film as he was obsessed that his school and his way of training should be the only martial arts school and training in all of Taiwan. Okimura had a whole army of students willing to do his bidding and he even had an equally evil daughter (who was not given a name and only referred to as “daughter”). The first really evil thing Okimura and his daughter do is crash Master Su’s 80th birthday party and interrupt a stage show that was being performed. This upset Master Su so much that he died on the spot. If that was not enough, after Master Su’s death, Miss Lee decides to turn Su’s school into the Jing Wu school… this pisses off Okimura and he orders his daughter to take down the Jing Wu school sign, she not only takes it down, she breaks it into pieces because she is a certified badass. Then Okimura has his men pick up the pieces and they go into the town square and throw the pieces down to send a message to anyone and everyone who wants to oppose Okimura. This proves to be the breaking point for Ah Lung, who has seen enough and is about to become a changed man.The fed up Ah Lung takes a stand and rallies the troops around him preaching a unified front against the Japanese. Next thing you know the crowd is putting the Jing Wu school sign back together. Ah Lung then carries the repaired sign back on his shoulders to Miss Lee and the Jing Wu school, with a parade of followers behind him. This was a memorable and powerful scene and probably my favorite moment in the entire movie.
With Ah Lung now on board with the Jing Wu school, we get to see Ah Lung go into training including learning the fist of fury technique. This technique comes into play in the film’s finale as they attempt to recreate the iconic scene of Bruce Lee doing the fist of fury and moving his arms and hands in an almost hypnotic fashion.
New Fist of Fury was a great film and a fitting sequel to the Bruce Lee classic. Jackie Chan was impressive in the fight scenes and already displaying the charisma and sense of humor that would become synonymous with him as his career went on. The supporting cast was also a large part of why this film worked so well in my opinion.
Want some Bonus Bullet Points? Read on…
- Familiar Face: Nora Miao was not the only Bruce Lee alumnus to star in New Fist of Fury, Han Ying-Chieh played the advisor to Miss Lee and the new Jing Wu school. Han Ying-Chieh was instantly recognizable to me as The Big Boss himself from The Big Boss. Han Ying-Cheh also served as the movie’s action director.
- I Can Recommend a Good Bathhouse Scene For Ya: Okimura finds himself the target of an assassination attempt while he is relaxing at a bathhouse. This results in Okimura throwing a knife at a guy and killing him. What is so special about that? Well Okimura didn’t throw the knife with his hand, he threw it with his mouth!
- Bruce Lee Cameo: As Miss Lee sees Ah Lung approaching the Jing Wu school with the repaired sign on his shoulders, she is reminded of her fallen friend Chen Zhen and a still shot of Bruce Lee from Fist of Fury is shown.
- The Clones Cast: New Fist of Fury was covered by Michael and Matthew on Episode #5 of The Clones Cast. One of the interesting tidbits from that episode was the fact that there were actually two sequels to Fist of Fury, New Fist of Fury starring Jackie Chan and Fist of Fury 2 starring Bruce Li.
- Uncut: One thing they did not mention on The Clones Cast was that there are apparently deleted scenes from the movie where Ah Lung becomes Rambo, at least that’s what this DVD cover would lead me to believe…