In his second kung fu movie, Bruce Lee seeks retribution for the death of his master (based on the real Huo Yuanjia) and humiliation at the hands of Japanese fighters, leading to a Shanghai Shaolin-Shogun Showdown.
Released in 1972, the plot and execution feel more conventional than the following year’s Enter the Dragon, without the strong supporting characters or distinctive directorial style. In terms of action however, again choreographed by Lee, the film goes toe to toe with its successor. So although the dialogue sequences drag on compared to Dragon (with Lee’s fiery performance slightly undermined by a monotonous American dub), there’s never too long to wait before another of his famous fits of fury, levelling roomfuls of assailants with his trademark nunchucks and creaky door impersonations.
Interesting to note is the Western-style story and soundtrack, and the film’s commentary on Japanese imperialism. Set in Shanghai, it employs brute-force Chinese propaganda against the Japanese, all the while using Western tropes that ironically originated from samurai movies. Women also fare better than their concubine counterparts in Enter the Dragon, enjoying the relatively bountiful career options of becoming martial artists or topless dancers. All together it forms the action-packed and punchy Fist of Fury: politics of agitprop, soundtrack of a Western, title of a porno.