Fist of Fury is also Lee’s most traditional genre picture. It even recycles the vintage plot of two martial arts schools pitted against one another. In this case, the setting is Shanghai 1908 and the basis of the conflict is nationality—a Japanese school wants a Chinese school closed and will go to any length.
The film opens with the funeral of the Chinese school’s teacher and the return of Chen (Lee), a former pupil. As the students honor their former teacher, thugs from the Japanese school interrupt the proceedings to deliver a framed sign proclaiming the Chinese martial artists “The Sick Men of Asia.” Several Chinese students, including a smoldering Chen, want to fight the Japanese intruders, but the new teacher convinces them to hold back their anger.
|Chen (Lee) takes on a whole school of martial arts students.|
|Lee stages a fight with former real-life student Bob Wall.|
|Lee in disguise in Fist of Fury.|
|A tender scene with Nora Miao.|
Silliphant kept Bruce busy with supporting roles in: Marlowe (1969) with James Garner; A Walk in the Spring starring Ingrid Bergman; and several episodes of the James Franciscus TV series Longstreet. Concurrently, Lee developed his own concept for a TV series called The Warrior, which mixed the martial arts and Western genres. Although a pilot for The Warrior was never produced, the similar Kung Fu TV series premiered a year later. Bruce Lee was considered for the starring role that went to David Carradine.
|Lee as Kato in The Green Hornet.|
Today, Fist of Fury remains one of the few martial arts films to survive the “kung fu craze” of 1973-75. Although relegated to videotape showings for the most part, it has become a staple for Bruce Lee fans, martial arts enthusiasts, and film historians interested in the cinema of the 1970s. There have been several official and unofficial remakes and sequels, with the best one being 1994's Fist of Legend starring Jet Li.