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The Big Boss
cast: Bruce Lee, Maria Ye, James Tien, Han Ying-chieh, and Tony Liu

director: Lo Wei

96 mins (18) 1971
widescreen 2.35:1
Hong Kong Legends DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Jeff Young
This 'Special Collector's Edition' of Bruce Lee's first feature outing is said to be a 'totally uncut' version, but the expert commentary refutes this claim by pointing out a few missing shots, in addition to explaining continuity errors. Nevertheless, The Big Boss (aka: T'ang-shan ta-hsiung) remains an enjoyable adventure, introducing the dynamic Mr Lee in fine style - while mixing cartoon kung fu set-pieces, contemporary Chinese and Thai cultural mores, and aspects of Hollywood's violent revenge thrillers.

It's the superbly choreographed action where Lee shines brightest and the film truly comes into its own. Unlike many earlier Hong Kong martial arts pictures, The Big Boss tackled combat in an entirely new way, using ideas that Lee had picked up during his time in the US, and (as we all now know) it was this east meets west approach that launched Lee's phenomenal, yet tragically short, career as a major international star.

Lee's star quality was his remarkable screen presence. I don't think he ever had the sort of charisma that would have made him a likeable actor, but the man was a cinema icon with such high voltage ideals and professional craftsmanship that whenever he was on screen the audience would notice him - no matter what was happening around him, or in the background - like a lightning bolt in the stormy sky.

DVD extras: scene selection in 30 chapters, photo gallery, animated biography, three trailers (one includes some deleted footage), informative commentary track by genre expert and screenwriter Bey Logan, dubbed or subtitled options.

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