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   Now in our eleventh calendar year
    PCR #529  (Vol. 11, No. 20)  This edition is for the week of May 10--16, 2010.

"Robin Hood"  by Mike Smith
CD Review: The Birds, The Bees, & The Monkees (3 CD Limited Edition Boxed Set)  by ED Tucker
Happy 30th Empire Strikes Back  by Chris Woods
The Big Boss  by Jason Fetters
The Top 30 Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Actresses, #1  by Lisa Scherer
Si No Est¨¢ Aqu¨ª Legalmente, Lleve A Su Casa El Culo! .... Movie Notes .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith

The Big Boss

Bruce Lee’s film debut, way back in 1971, is still an entertaining action movie. With Hollywood ignoring the action genre by a lack of engaging action stars, it is refreshing to check out The Big Boss.

Bruce Lee was raw and filled with energy that jumped from the screen and grabbed you by the throat. Lee had nothing to lose so he went all out in this first film.

Gone were the quick knockouts of his Green Hornet TV series days. Lee wanted to set himself apart from all those hokey chop socky kung fu movies that were being constantly churned out in Hong Kong. He studied the Mandarin films before starring in The Big Boss and according to interviews and various documentaries he has been documented as saying how much better he could do.

While I enjoy the American release on DVD and renamed Fists of Fury, there are a few problems.

First, Peter Thomas, a German composer, created a disco/hard rock score that doesn’t really work. It probably was ok for that time back in the early 70’s. I like to think of that soundtrack as a localization attempt to westernize a Chinese movie. I managed to watch an original version of The Big Boss, on VCD from Hong Kong, that contains the original soundtrack and it works so much better.

Second, the English dub is laughable and the butt of all kinds of bad jokes that one generally associates with 70’s kung fu cinema. The VCD contains both the Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks with English subtitles. I prefer the Cantonese track myself. Anyway, whoever dubbed Bruce Lee’s voice failed to put the right emotion into his battle cries and that lessens the fight scenes. On the VCD, you can hear Bruce Lee’s screams that smooth out the action scenes and are much less jarring then the bad dub.

Basically, Bruce’s voice is only heard in Enter The Dragon. Even when his movies were playing at Hong Kong theaters, it was a dubbed voice due to all the excessive noise during filming, all voice work is added later. The main problem with the Bruce Lee releases in the U.S. is the Japanese boy who dubbed the battle cries comes off as laughable and Bruce wouldn’t have approved of such a poor localization trick.

Back in the 80’s, someone gave me a Bruce Lee magazine for The Big Boss that came out when the movie debuted and became such a massive hit all over Asia.

An interesting side story is that Lo Wei, the director, and Bruce Lee argued over which fighting style to use. The main dispute was that Bruce Lee and several stuntmen were supposed to fight in the sky. Lee felt this was unrealistic yet compromised with Wei after an intense argument. Lee was still an unknown star so he lacked the power to get the vision he wanted on this first film. That would change and ultimately result in Lee directing Way of the Dragon, his third HK film.

The other scene involved Lee fighting several men outside the ice factory. In one scene, Lo Wei suggested that Bruce push a stuntman into a wall. After the man was pushed his shape was cut out from the wall resulting in a cartoon type image.

Bruce told Wei,

Good, You first show me how to do it.
If you can push a person through a wall,
I will follow your example.
I don’t think I can do it.

I also learned from my Big Boss magazine that when Lee arrived back home after filming in Thailand, the press greeted him and a press conference followed.

Lee was asked difficult questions like the following:

Bruce, your Jeet Kune Do and Jimmy Wang’s karate, which is stronger?

(At that time Jimmy Wang was the number one fighting star in HK.)

Bruce skillfully answered:

I have seen his movies.
He is good.
He acts well, too.
But my answer is to judge among
Karate, judo, and Jeet Kune Do is unjust.
I hope you will all go see the film yourself.
After that, tell me your opinion.

That way Lee avoided trash-talking and diplomatically handled what good have been bad publicity.

Overall, The Big Boss, is an excellent debut film for any actor. You can find the U.S. release anywhere but for the serious movie buff the original HK version is the one to see. Nothing is cut out, like several minutes of fight scenes that were edited to tone down the violence, and you get to watch it as Bruce Lee had intended.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2010 by Jason Fetters. Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.