The Big Boss Cover Have you ever worked abroad before? Me - I find that it is a rather refreshing experience myself. It opens up both your mind and your pockets to a new way of thinking. Well, except in the case of this movie of course. One Directed by Lo Wei; and Starring Bruce Lee and James Tien. It was made in 1971. and lasts of 96 minutes.

The Big Boss - Chinese Connection

Poor Cheng (Bruce Lee). He thought that he would have a very nice life living with his new-found family in Thailand. He'd taken a pacifist stance in non-violence action. He was more than willing to work with cousins in the ice factory. And all in all, he was just happy with his life in general.

Still, you know the old saying don't you? What goes up, must come down? Or in Cheng's case - 'must crack'.

You see, Chen's problems begins when he accidentally breaks a block of ice at his place of work. But do not think that this is the actual problem in itself, oh no. Rather, because of this mishap, two of Cheng's cousins mistakenly discovers drugs encased in this ice. Moreover, due to their discovery, they are then killed one night by the 'Big Boss's' henchmen.

Pretty bad turn of events, right? Still, to make matters even worse, is that when Chen's other cousin, Hsu Chien (James Tien), goes to the Big Boss himself (Yin-Chieh), to see where his 'missing' cousins are - he too is killed by the Bosses son (Tony Liu).

Now what do you think that Cheng does about any of this, huh? Does he see the Big Boss as well? Or better yet, break his pacifist ways, and then fight back? Err - no - not straight away he doesn't. He gets involved with a dispute at work first, and is then hired as a new foremen before he meets the Big Boss.

However, I am afraid to say that this does not really pan out too well for him. The Boss fobs him off with a lame excuse - he spends the night drunk and with a prostitute - and in addition to this, his new-found family turn their backs on him as well.

Well, as I said at the beginning - Poor Cheng. Though I suppose that is why what next transpires is a right turn up for the books I can tell you. As drugs are found - bad-guys hit the ground - and a new Hong Kong movie star is finally crowned.

'The Big Boss' is a must watch film for any Bruce Lee fan. OK, so maybe this film is not for your average martial arts viewer whom likes their punch with a kick. Still, it is something to see if you want to see Bruce in his first starring film role.

The Big Boss Poster
Here, just look at the facts. (1) Whenever Bruce wears white in this film - the Chinese color of death - he kills someone. (2) This was the highest grossing film in 1971. (3) It is believed that Bruce's characters back-story was in fact based on a true 19th century tale - one which Bruce would have expanded upon in the future if he lived. (4) Bruce Lee never wanted this film to be released in the West, and intended to re-make it [plus his other two Hong Kong productions] with an American cast, after 'Enter the Dragon' [click here for review]. (5) The Big Bosses mansion is in fact a Thai mausoleum. (6) The brothel in the film was an actual functioning Thai brothel. (7) In the Asian film market, this movie is called 'Big Brother from the Tang Mountains', referencing Bruce's character, and not his adversary. On it's initial released in the west though, this film was called 'The Big Boss'. However, once it reached the states, their was a confusion with the title, and it was dubbed either 'The Chinese Connection', 'Fist Of Fury', or 'The Iron Hand'. (8) Bruce Lee helped remove the original director of this film, Ng Gar Seung, and replaced him with Lo Wei, only after a few weeks of production. Moreover, Bruce's co-star, James Tien, was deemed to act as a standby if Bruce's skills were not up to Lo's standard. (9) Some of the kooky effects in this film - such as the high-flying trampoline kick and the impression made by a thug when Bruce punched him through the wall - was something that Bruce did not want in this movie. The Director, Lo Wei, overruled him. (10) The director of this film, Lo Wei, was a forties matinee idol, and starred with Bruce in 'Fist Of Fury' [click here for the review]. (11) Chinese beauty, Nora Miao, was going to go on and star with Bruce in a number of other films, including 'Game Of Death' [click here for review]. (12) The 'Big Boss', Ying-Chieh Han, was actually one of Hong Kongs top actions stars before Bruce. And (13) Their were numerous ending of this film made, because in certain oriental territories, anyone seen killing someone else, had to be shown being arrested.

Bruce Lee in The Big Boss

The Big Boss Film Poster
Now apart from the facts, their's also something else you need to about 'The Big Boss' as well - the deleted scenes. (1) After Bruce and James beat-up the guys outside of the casino, a car quickly attempted to run them over. They avoided it - and so too did the editor of this scene. (2) Not so long after the previously cut scene, their is another missing scene in which James tells his cousins about what happened to him and Bruce. (3) Another scene which was cut, was one prior to Bruce's Uncle leaving on the boat - Bruce and his Uncle having tea by the harbor. (4) There are two violent scenes ripped out of this film due to their harshness. The first one is the famous 'saw in the head' scene from the warehouse battle. And the second one was when Bruce stab's the 'Big Boss' in the chest, and you can see him clearly doing it. (5) The infamous 'Bruce and prostitute sex scene' was omitted after the movies premier because it was deemed unrealistic. And (6) There were numerous scrapped scenes which details have become hazy over time. One was where Bruce discovers James disfigured body in a block of ice, another one was something to do with Bruce discovering and then hallucinating about his butchered family, and the final one happened just prior him visiting 'The Big Boss' for the final battle - it involves him and Nora Miao. Remember, he had prawn crackers, right?

The Big Boss of The Big Boss

OK, so now that all of the film trivia is out of the way with, in truth, the main reason why 'The Big Boss' is still known today, is because of Bruce Lee. Primarily, this is due to the fact that this is Bruce’s first non-adolescent Hong Kong film, and catapulted him into the legend that he is known as today. However, the problem with this though, is that when you see this film, you can’t help but wonder why?

The story is somewhat liner and basic in format – the character development is laughable at best – the music is of an acquired taste – the dubbing is done by a dope addict - and the acting is rather over expressive all in all.

The Big Boss Movie Poster

Please note, I hate to mention these negative aspects. Still, in my most humble opinion, this is all sadly true, except for one notable exception - the action. Bruce Lee just storms the screen with his lighting fast execution and rapid motion movement. Heck, sometimes you can’t help but wonder how he died only a mere two years after this film was made!

Granted, there's also some other nice moments banded into this film apart from Bruce’s action segments. Such as the atmospheric death scenes in the ice house and the family home – the whole ‘keeping people in suspense’ angle, prohibiting Bruce’s character, Chang, to fight – plus seeing Bruce drunk was kind of amusing too. Though it’s just a shame that any scene without Bruce in, does kind of seems redundant somehow.

Not a bad film though, even for an inadvertent classic. Don't you agree, film producer, Raymond Chow?


The legend lives on...