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The Big Boss (DVD)
Member Name: MykReeve
The Big Boss (DVD)
Date: 22/04/01, updated on 22/04/01 (190 review reads)
Advantages: Great commentary track, Great restoration of the print, Anamorphic print, Good extras given the age of the film
Disadvantages: The film isn't that great, Audio quality is still not great
There are quite a few versions of Bruce Lee classic 'The Big Boss' available on DVD around the world (note that the movie is titled 'Fists of Fury' in the US), however, the Hong Kong Legends Region 2 release is easily the best among them. Hong Kong Legends have spent a lot of time restoring the original print, and have produced a superb disc, doing justice to the film's role in Hong Kong movie history.
Bruce Lee plays Cheng Chao An, a migrant worker who travels to Thailand in search of work, and stays with his extended family there. He finds work in an ice factory, only to discover that the company is a front for a drug-trafficking ring.
It's not a great film – plot and characterisation are both pretty weak – however, this was Bruce Lee's first starring role, and the fight scenes are as good as you would expect from Lee.
- Distributor: Hong Kong Legends (MDV 464)
- Region: 2 (Europe)
- Type: DVD-9 (single side, dual layer)
- Running time: 96 minutes
The film is uncut.
- Picture format: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen NTSC
The film was almost 30 years old, at the time of release, and inevitably, given the low standards of film storage in Hong Kong, this meant that a lot of restoration had to be done by Hong Kong Legends. Indeed, they have digitally remastered the film frame by frame, with some frames reconstituted from a torn print.
The picture is anamorphic, making optimal use of your widescreen television, if you should have one... Picture quality is very good, considering the age of the movie, and the print has been restored extremely well. While the picture might lack some of the detail of more recent movie transfers to DVD, it's still a cut above other prints of 'The Big Boss' that are available to buy.
- Audio: Dolby Digital 1.0 mono (English and Cantonese)
Like the pict
ure, audio has been remastered from the original. In all honesty, the sound quality remains pretty ropey, but this is mainly attributable to its age, and this is the best audio track available for the movie.
- Subtitles: English and Dutch
I watched the film with the English subtitle track on, which consisted of white text with black outlines. I didn't notice any glaring errors in spelling or punctuation.
There is a fairly limited selection of extras included on the disc. There is a biography of Bruce Lee, which is divided into sections, accessible via a menu screen. The biography is animated, consisting of text scrolling up the screen, read out by an American.
Three trailers are included – the Hong Kong Legends promotional trailer; the Hong Kong promotional trailer; and the original theatrical trailer, which includes scenes cut from the final print of the film. The disc includes several pages of information explaining which scenes in the theatrical trailer were trimmed from the final print, and where they would have been in the film. Text overlaid over the trailer unfortunately mean that these scenes would look odd if presented as separate deleted scenes.
A small photo gallery (yawn) is included, showing Bruce Lee in various poses.
Possibly the most interesting extra, however, is an audio commentary accompanying the film from Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan. This was Logan's first commentary track recorded for Hong Kong Legends, and quite possibly his most entertaining. Logan talks throughout the entire film, and discusses the history of the film, Bruce Lee's life, anecdotal stories that he has heard from the film's stars about its production, and general trivia about the actors featured in the film.
There is also a small 'Easter Egg' special feature included on the disc, consisting of a few photographs taken during the shooting of the film, showing Bruc
e Lee and James Tien preparing for a deleted scene in which they jump onto a wall to avoid a burning cart.
Menus throughout the disc are nicely presented and animated. Chapter selection screens each list six chapters from the film represented by static pictures with captions.
'The Big Boss' is not a great film. It has some excellent action sequences, unquestionably, but beyond this there's not a great deal to recommend it. However, the movie was Bruce Lee's first starring role, and gives a good impression of what he was capable of.
The DVD is superb, featuring an extremely well restored print of the film, and a superb collection of extras considering the age of the film. The commentary is both entertaining and informative, and provides a great deal of interesting trivia about the film and its stars.