For over the last half decade, Hong Kong has remained to be the hub for Chinese filmmakers. Bruce Lee, Jacki Chan, and Hong Brothers have made Hong Kong Cinema popular around the world:. In every step, the filmmaking in Hong Kong in many aspects has matched Bollywood and Hollywood- the other two forts in the film industry. Despite its popularity in East and South-East Asia, Hong Kong Cinema has exerted its influence on the Western filmmakers. From the earlier times, Shanghai has been the capital of the Chinese-speaking humanity. The filmmakers of that time based their movies on the Chinese Opera that was a major form of entertainment. Progressively, the creative people started making movies in Hong Kong. At this era, Hong Kong was being bifurcated into two parallel cinemas: Mandarin and Cantonese. The mainland émigrés watched movies in Mandarin and the audience of native Hong Kong watched Cantonese. The British colonial government in 1963 mandated the filmmakers to provide English subtitles popularizing these movies worldwide. In 1970, Golden harvest studio was formed working with several rising performers. The studio laid the foundation for the Hong Kong movie legends such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Hui brothers. The content of these movies gradually charged with the rest of the world.
Fist of Fury (Dir. Lo Wei, starring Bruce Lee, 1972)
As Bruce Lee second film, Fist of Fury is perhaps the best movie with the time fight sequences. The setting of the movie is in Shanghai in 1908 with Bruce Lee as the main character, Chen arriving at his marital arts schools to pay respect to his beloved master (FreeWebs Para 1). At the funeral, Japanese Bushido school delegation bulge in and provide the mourners with large tablet with “Sick Man of Asia” inscribed (FreeWebs para 1). As the plot unfolds, Chen realizes that members of Bushido school killed his master. Suddenly, his grief turned into rage and soon set out as a one man fighting machine to avenge his teacher. The Fist of Fury storyline revolves around the idea of fighting to honour death, a thought engraved in the Chinese culture. In the course of avenging his teacher Chen goes to a Japanese martial arts school and beats everyone and yells out “The Chinese are not sick men” (Freewebs para 2). These sentiments were a clear indication that the humiliation of the Hong Kong cinema-going audience felt in the conquest of the Second World War II was finally cleared off. With this regards, the movie hits the box office records and establish roots in Hong Kong and across South East Asia (Freewebs para 2).
For over thirty years now after the Fist of Fury was released, film critics have agreed that fight-wise the movie is a classic but the directors were far from perfect. Some film critics have said that the setting looks cheap and in the English Version the dialogue is bad. Compared to the Big Boss, the soundtracks are far from good. The other element that has received much censure is the attempt to present half-hearted sub-plot that in the end comes out as weak and ‘unreal’ romantic scenes. Incidentally, the director lost interest in the course of filming the romantic shoots. Lo Wei (Director) was found listening the horse racing on the radio instead of directing the scenes (FreeWebs para 3). Despite all the criticism, the movie also entails a combination of long takes cut that ranges between everything from the Dutch angles to the tracking shots which is fascinating for people who love angles variations. Concerning the editing, the quick cuts are conventionally done well here as in most kung-fu cinema. The ingenuity of these shots is done so well that lovers of this movie pause to savour then again and again.
Another stumbling block of this movie is the storyline itself and two-dimensional characters. The entire movie is a mixture of good versus evil and has no shades of grey area. Particularly, the Japanese are depicted inherently as almost evil race and seem incapable of sympathy at all. On the contrary, the Chinese are portrayed as decent, kind, and peace loving race. In the entire film, Chen is the only character who has complexity and real depth. Nonetheless, Chen is heads out to avenge his teacher and restore the honour of his school but instead become ferocious, destructive, and whirlwind of rage to an extend that he goes against what his teacher had taught him and what the Chinese lived by.
Well, from the perspective of martial arts, Lee’s performance has remained to be the greatest in the cinema history. The fight scenes are shockingly and blindly fast and well choreographed. We saw Chen tackle multiple opponents and the swinging poles at full speed miss his head by just a few millimetres. The onscreen use of nunchaku fighting sticks is first seen in this movie. We can also see Jeet Kune execute semi-realistic moves such as the low level kicks and finger jabs.
The Fist of Fury has strike the hearts of many for more than thirty years. Despite its directional flaws, the production may be low in comparison to today. However, in terms of raw emotional content and martial arts action the movie is a master piece. Personally this movie is, one of my favourite staring the martial-arts master the Bruce Lee. In many levels, the movie is great enjoyment to watch with the Lo Wei’s ingenious presentation and cinematography.
Enter the Dragon (Dir. Robert Clouse, Starring Bruce Lee, 1972)
Compared to the previous Bruce lee firms, Enter the Dragon has the most sophisticated plot. The film takes Lee to an isolated island ruled by Mr. Han whose is an evil man for martial arts competition. Lee goes undercover as a secret agent hired to unmask the truth about the illegal opium ring headed by Han (Freewebs para 21). However, a sub plot is interlaced with the central storyline that involves Lee avenging his sister’s death who was attacked by Han’s gang. Han being an alienated shoalin (monk) who disfavoured the temple is another sub plot idea that touches the storyline. When the three elements are combined with the legends of international cast of martial arts and the tournament, it not surprising why Enter the Dragon had been regarded as the supreme film of all time (Freewebs para 22).
On this film, Lee was convinced by the director Robert Clouse to ensure that his character was less exaggerated and more sophisticated in comparative to his previous movies (Freewebs 23). Needless to say, his character in this film was quite different from his previous outings. Lee was calm and in control, highly intellectual, well cultured and educated, and never raises his voice. Enter the Dragon from the perspective of martial arts appears to deliver more than the entertainment from the dazzling kung-fu. This film provides the audience with a rare insight of a blend of practices and philosophies (Freewebs para 24). Lee dialogue in this film has been quoted numerously by countless number of teachers and students in martial arts. His quotes are also cropping in martial arts books, website, and videos at a global scale. The is the only film in Bruce Lee film collection where we see inspiring fight scenes that do not involve Lee at all. Of course, in other films there were fight scenes were Bruce was not present but they were all brief and appeared only as token gestures to make Lee look good. Enter the Dragon is different as these fighting scenes are quite impressive.
The overall production of Enter the Dragon has not received serious dispute setting the film in its rightful place as the best Bruce Lee classical film of all time. Every aspect in this film has been worked on and polished from the camera angles, the music, choreography, and editing. The film’s soundtrack is considered as one of the many greatest masterpieces of the 1970s.
IP Man 2 (Dir. Wilson Yip, starring Donnie Yen, 2010)
IP Man 2 is a movie that has presented lovers of the first instalment with a progressive version of the lives of the characters as they move to Honk Kong. The storyline revolves around a famous Yip Man, Bruce Lee teacher. The story is fictional and the film is visually appealing presenting memorable fights though not as wonderful as the first. The director has added more to it making it enjoyable by continuing to teach his students and opening his own school. At least the film would have integrated the training of Bruce Lee. This would have helped in the understanding of the movie; however a foreign character (British Boxer) by the name Twister is introduced to fight the Yip Man. The way the Twister fights brings a lot of excitement in the movie. From my observation, the fight is wonderful and necessary it does not prove that one of the fighting was better than the other. Though historically, it is truly inaccurate this story would have even worked better as separate idea for another film. In the end i did like the way they portrayed Bruce Lee.
Compared to the predecessor the acting was a bit weak in IP Man 2. Donnie Yen is amazing as usual and he really the Yip Man. Yen really tries to make you connect with the character making you believe he is the Yip Man. Darren Shahlavi also present himself as a brilliant actor. Shahlavi played Twister in the movie and he truly brought out the character which makes it one of the amazing acting. For instance, when the Yip Man punishes his arms he acts like if he is hurting very badly. The audience felt like if he was real man taking all the pain. Truly, this is brilliant acting from Yen and Shahlavi which unfortunately fell short in the first.
In the IP Man 2, the directors clearly delivered their vision in this film. The casting was amazing and every actor ensured that they presented their best enough to make this movie successful. The score of music in this film is traceable to 15 greatest notch of time. This music is well written and the theme in the firm grows as the film continues. The overall directing is fabulous. As always, the visuals are outstanding. The choreography of fight scenes are most accurate and placed together than i have never seen before. With this regard, this one area that has greatly improved: the sets were well placed and more plausible. This made the audience feel as if they were in Hong Kong in the time of Bruce Lee’s childhood.