A young man sworn to an oath of non-violence works with his cousins in an ice factory where they mysteriously begin to disappear.
Music: Peter Thomas (Soundtrack for Europe), Fu-Ling Wang
Cast: Bruce Lee, Maria Yi, James Tien, Marilyn Bautista, Ying-Chieh Han, Tony Liu, Kun Li, Nora Miao, Shan Chin, Chia-Chen Tu, Chih Chen
Directors: Wei Lo
Writers: Wei Lo
Cinematography: Ching-Chu Chen
Editing: Ming Sung
Umbrella Entertainment has started another sub-label titled ‘Films of Fury’, and Bruce Lee’s 1971 film The Big Boss is entry number one. It’s a great way to start a new collection focusing on martial arts films.
In The Big Boss, a young Bruce Lee plays Cheng Chao-an, a factory worker who discovers that his boss is secretly transporting drugs in the ice blocks he’s helping transport around the country. Several of Chao-an’s friends go missing throughout the film, and even if very daft at times, eventually Cheng Chao-an does click on to the odd coincidences of these events.
This film isn’t great. The acting is mostly very laughable, and the story is at all times very thin with nearly no thought into having it make sense. Like how the ice blocks hide drugs and dead bodies, even though ice is transparent.
But this is a film with an essential part in cinematic history because it’s Bruce Lee’s breakout starring performance. Even if his character is a pacifist up until the final act, the last fight against Big Boss is worth everything that had come before it. Although it might not live up to the sensational heights that Lee has in his movie following, it still features some classic Lee moves, including the double kick into a spin-kick that every fighting game fan has performed countless times now.
One scene that stood out to be for the wrong reasons is about halfway into the movie, where Cheng Chao-an is tricked into getting drunk by the ice factory manager in an attempt to sway him from following the leads of the missing friends and co-workers. For some reason, this scene is followed with Chao-an passing out at a brothel where it’s implied one of the girls raped him. It’s played off as not funny, but as a set-up to an awkward moment where he sees his crush on the way out. This whole scene felt weird and would rightfully be criticized if it was in a movie releasing this year.