Hong Kong Digital is sponsored by Poker Industries. Please see the Hong Kong Digital home page for a special offer from Poker Industries to Hong Kong Digital readers.

Issue #151 HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES March 17th, 2003

Fist of Fury
(1995; ATV Enterprises)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Jing mo moon
Mandarin: Jing wu men
English: Excellence In Martial Arts School

The 1972 Bruce Lee film FIST OF FURY (or THE CHINESE CONNECTION, as it was called in the U.S. and Canada) was a hugely successful and influential feature subsequently remade in 1994 as FIST OF LEGEND, with Jet Li Lianjie. Hong Kong's ATV Network launched a 30 episode miniseries adaptation in 1995 and later culled this two hour feature version from the second half of the production (approximately 15 hours). In the late 1930s, some Japanese forces entered China as a prelude to a full scale invasion. Martial arts master Fok Yuen-gaap (Eddy Ko Hung) sought to rally his fellow Chinese against the enemy by uniting the various kung fu schools under a single flag. Shanghai rickshaw driver Chen Jun (Donnie Yen Chi-tan, who also served as the martial arts choreographer) loves Japanese girl Yumi (THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR 2's Joey Meng Yee-man), a forbidden relationship that makes him persona non grata with the Japanese officials assigned to the territory. Chen becomes an even more notorious figure when he kills a Japanese fighter that challenged him. Forced to leave the area, Chen is not present when Master Fok is coerced into a duel to the death with the Japanese champion. Unbeknownst to Fok, he has been slipped poison and perishes after the match has concluded. The news brings Chen back to Shanghai, where he sets out to avenge Fok's death and save his fellow Chinese from an insidious Japanese plan to gas everyone within a ten mile radius.

With huge chunks of the narrative trimmed out, all that is left are brief dialogue sequences serving as the lead-ins to fights, followed by slivers of character development that now seem fairly pointless. In contrast to Jet Li, Yen tries to evoke memories of Bruce Lee by imitating his famous gestures and fighting cries, which is unfortunate, because he comes off little better than Bruce Li, Bruce Le, Dragon Lee and their ilk. Yen's superlative kung fu is also thoroughly undermined by the presentation. While undercranking can look effective on celluloid, the speeding up of the action here looks ridiculous (the low point features a hilariously padded Bey Logan as the token Russian villain) and video also tends to cheapen the production values, which are not bad as HK TV goes. While releasing the entire miniseries would be impractical, this abridgment fails to retain the integrity of the narrative (Lo Lieh, one of the biggest names in the cast, appears for all of 5 seconds!) and the program will be of little interest to anyone beyond the most steadfast Donnie Yen fans. HK miniseries often lift music from other sources and we detected cues from ROBOCOP and HARD TARGET here. FIST OF FURY was helmed by a number of directors and six are credited for this variant: Benny Chan Muk-sing (BIG BULLET), Leung Yun-chun, Wong Kam-miu, Steve Cheng Wai-man (EROTIC NIGHTMARE), Wu Ming-hoi, and Tang Mau-sing.

Cover art courtesy Tai Seng.

Donnie Yen. Image courtesy Tai Seng.

Joey Meng Yee-man. Image courtesy Tai Seng.
Tai Seng #06974 (U.S. label)

Dolby Digital 5.1

Sync Sound Cantonese and Dubbed English Language Tracks

Optional English Subtitles

16 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With (Tiny) Stills


Coded for Region 1 Only

NTSC Format

120 Minutes

Contains moderate martial arts violence

DVD menu courtesy Tai Seng.

Not Available

Both the Cantonese and English audio tracks are a little lacking in power but boast some decent separations. The fullscreen image looks a bit soft and pale but remains acceptable; a few dropouts are apparent in the master tape. The disc includes a routine behind-the-scenes program (22 minutes) mostly concerned with the first half of the series (Tai Seng has also released a condensed version of this as FIST OF FURY -- SWORN REVENGE), and two commentaries. Yen and writer Craig Reid can be heard on the first and the star provides plenty of anecdotes about the production and the problems he faced with the limited time and money ATV provided. Yen is quite candid about the show's limitations, to the point of sounding a bit egotistical at times and Reid's injections of humor tend to fall flat. However, there is a lot of interesting information here and Yen spends a good deal of the track discussing a few of the other projects he has done. The second discussion is of less value. Reid is joined this time by martial artist Robin Shou Wan-bo (MORTAL KOMBAT, BEVERLY HILLS NINJA) and Tai Seng's Frank Djeng. Shou was not connected with FIST OF FURY and, while he does speak a bit about the films he did in HK, he and Reid mostly just clown around, though the latter does occasionally provide some interesting background on the weapons used. Djeng also talks about the performers and the Chinese traditions represented. Overall, the track is not a complete failure but it often strains one's patience, a fault exacerbated by poor recording quality. A Yen filmography is also available. There is a fairly seamless layer change at 1:10:41 but an authoring flaw causes the picture to briefly break-up whenever some of the menu functions are activated.

Having problems printing this review with Netscape? Go to the File option in the Netscape Task Bar, click the Page Setup from the sub-menu and make sure that in the Page Options listings, the Black Text box is clicked. This should resolve the "no text" printing problem.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2003. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com