BIG BOSS (1971-HK)
review by Jerome
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The Chinese title of the film translates as the big brother from China.
As Bruce Lee’s first adult role in The Big Boss, he plays Cheng Chiu On a migrant worker from China who comes to Thailand in search of work. Accompanied by his uncle, he is introduced to some cousins played by James Tien, Li Qun, Lam Ching Ying and Maria Yi. Being relatives, Hui Kin (James Tien) gets Cheng a job in the local ice factory. On his first day at the factory, he uses too much strength to move the ice and two relatives end up finding heroin inside it. The next day they are missing, after being murdered by the Thai goons and the factory manager that help run the factory. When Kin hears they are missing, he visits the big boss’s home accompanied by another relative to demand where their two relatives have disappeared. Threatened with police action, the boss kills both of them. Suspicious of the factory’s staff, Cheng seeks revenge on those that killed his relatives and in doing so breaks open the drug trafficking ring in the process.
The themes surrounding the film are revenge, sorrow and family love. As the first of his adult roles, he is always betrayed as the caring guy who only fights if he’s provoked. Once such example is the fight at the ice factory when his jade pendant is broken. The jade is meant to prevent him from fighting but once broken, he beats up the Thai enforcements when they pick on the other Chinese workers. The sorrow is very heartfelt when he returns to the family house only to find the bodies of his slain cousins. The family love / admiration is shown when he thinks of them before deciding whether to avenge them. Deception is very present in the film especially when Cheng visits the boss’s home to look for Hui Kin and the other relatives. The consequences for upholding revenge are portrayed in the films ending where Cheng is arrested for killing the ‘Big Boss’.
Surprisingly enough, we get a fair bit of background on Lee’s character such as him being able to fight, being a heavy drinker and a frequenter to a brothel. The rest of the characters are there mainly as support and have very little background. Tony Liu plays the boss’s son, whom fights Bruce in ice storage area where all the bodies of the dead workers have been frozen in ice. Han Ying Chieh plays the rich Boss, a martial arts expert who smuggles heroin and has female slaves.
Shot in Pak Chong, Thailand, Bruce Lee introduced his charisma and spellbinding fight choreography in The Big Boss. It was reported that he had disputes with the Lo Wei on certain portions of the film. However, the film was a success despite being censored in many countries for its violence. True Bruce Lee fans, will enjoy watching him kick the shit out of those that killed his relatives.
I rate it 8.5/10
on this movie on HK Neo Reviews Forum
Director: Director: Lo Wei
Cast: Bruce Lee, Maria Yi, James Tien, Nora Miao, Han Ying Chieh, Lam Ching Ying, Tony Liu, Kam Shan, Li Qun
Reviewed by Jerome (Bart), February 2006