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Fist of the Heavenly Sky

Bruce Lee's The Big Boss (Appreciation Thread)

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9 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

 

BL1108.jpg

This bastard...Boss Mi's manager of the ice factory. I always hated that he didn't get a taste of Cheng Chao An's Fists Of Fury! He should've gone down like the rest of his goons...

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4 hours ago, Shaolivevil said:

This bastard...Boss Mi's manager of the ice factory. I always hated that he didn't get a taste of Cheng Chao An's Fists Of Fury! He should've gone down like the rest of his goons...

 

Did his character get lost, when they switched directors?, was just poor writing?, or did they film any of the workers, getting even with him?. I can see his chracter, taking a late night ferry ride, with two girls from the local brothel, and a stash of drug money.

 

Cheng's charatcer should have chucked him in the Thai harbour, with a chain rounds his leg's.

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On 2/8/2019 at 9:36 AM, DragonClaws said:

 

Did his character get lost, when they switched directors?, was just poor writing?, or did they film any of the workers, getting even with him?. I can see his chracter, taking a late night ferry ride, with two girls from the local brothel, and a stash of drug money.

 

Cheng's charatcer should have chucked him in the Thai harbour, with a chain rounds his leg's.

That could very well have been the intro for a sequel of TBB. Cheng delivers a worse than death fate to the manager, and he takes the two bordello ladies for himself.

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On 2/9/2019 at 3:40 PM, Fist of the Heavenly Sky said:

That could very well have been the intro for a sequel of TBB. Cheng delivers a worse than death fate to the manager, and he takes the two bordello ladies for himself.

 

They managed to hire the same actor for BL TMTM, along with a few Big Boss extra's. Do any of the original cast, actually turn up in the sequel?, I cant recall if Michael Worths in depth artcle, mentions anything relating to this?

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BL and genuine tough guy, Peter Chan Lung, whom BL would often bail out of jail. After a night of heavy drinking and fighting, so Lung could go to Golden Harvest, and be present for the days filming.

 

BL2379.jpg

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Hello,

My name is Alan Canvan. I'm the author of an essay entitled "The Big Boss, A Perspective" that, to my shock, was swiped and posted here by a user who calls himself Fist of The Heavenly Sky. The post  has been up for nearly 3 and a half years (originally posted on 9/27/15) and this individual takes credit for writing the article  (as well as adding a few sentences of his own that are tonally inconsistent with my piece). My essay is copyrighted and I'm currently considering legal action. I'm reaching out to the members of this forum and the administrative team in good faith to help rectify this. Below is my original article which was plagiarized:

I first saw The Big Boss when I was nine years old. My older cousin, who had introduced me to the image of Bruce Lee a few years prior, supplied me with a detailed synopsis of the film. Like him, I was genuinely enthralled. Unlike him, having been born the year the film premiered, I had not experienced the Bruce Lee zeitgeist of the early 70’s, and, at that point, had only had real (reel) time with Lee in ‘Game of Death' (1978). For the better part of two years, I had idolized my hero mostly through still photographs and campfire lore. Because of this, he'd inherited an additional mythical quality. Fortunately, I came up in the era of home theater, and was, eventually, provided with the opportunity to witness this 'artifact' that no longer played in cinema houses. As I slid in the VHS tape, I recall the distinct feeling that I imagine might not have been too dissimilar to the one Indiana Jones must have felt upon discovering the Holy Grail. I had lived with the idea of what this film was for a child’s eternity, and felt I had a pretty good handle on what to expect. What I wasn't prepared for was how much the film itself would feel   almost exactly as I had imagined it. For this reason, amongst others, ‘Boss’ will always be extra special to me.

What makes the film so compelling? Unquestionably, the sheer magnitude of Lee’s screen presence – a fact that wasn't lost on producer Raymond Chow, who promptly downplayed the lead role initially intended for James Tien. Upon closer inspection, though, ‘Boss’ possesses a primitive spontaneity and textural rawness that gives it a tangible and visceral quality, not unlike  Martin Scorsese’s  Taxi Driver or Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. From the opening shot where Lee’s character, Cheng Chao Ahn, arrives at the Pak Chong dock, right through to the evocative finale when he’s hauled off by Thai police, there’s a certain sense of reality taking shape. One almost gets the feeling that this story could be unfolding in real time somewhere, which keeps the viewing experience kinetic and alive.

Cheng is a young man from mainland China who travels to Thailand for work and the hope of prosperity. His newfound home offers him the opportunity to both join his extended family as well as redirect his life through the hard work of manual labor - a trade not uncommon to most Chinese expats. Though it's never directly stated in the film, his pilgrimage is partially the result of his rebellious and temperamental nature back home (much like Bruce Lee 's move  to the US twelve years earlier). Due to his new surroundings, Cheng’s demeanor is both respectful and, oftentimes, painstakingly shy, but there’s an innate innocence to him, represented by the jade locket given to him by his mother. And the more we spend time with him, the more we witness the gradual loss of that innocence, which sets the stage for what will, essentially, be his right of passage into adulthood. Interestingly enough, while Cheng is a highly skilled martial artist and harbors a fascination with combat, it's this inherent innocence that suggests he may never have been exposed to the real horrors of violence. Indeed, his understanding of it, seems to, at best, be rooted and relegated to schoolyard skirmishes and contests of strength.
 
But from the very start, there's a pervasive sense of conflict in the air, and it walks beside him, innocuous and seductive. It’s there: upon arrival when he and his Uncle witness thugs harassing a young lady that works at the ice stand; when he’s introduced to the manager of the ice factory who casually tells him to “ get along with the other workers, no fights”; when he accidently breaks the block of ice and one of the henchmen sprints over and unleashes a  hard haymaker across his face; and when he witnesses his cousin, Hsu Chien, fighting off a few casino rascals who are irked by a good deed done for a neighbor. In one of the films many deleted scenes, there's a particularly poignant piece of dialogue that foreshadows Cheng’s eventual path. It occurs immediately following the aforementioned roadside encounter that Cheng and Hsu Chien have with the casino locals. The missing footage picks up with Cheng and Hsu continuing down the road, making their way home. They detour through an alleyway, and find themselves besieged by one of the remaining thugs, who proceeds to push a burning rickshaw cart towards them. Barely escaping (by leaping over a wall in unison), Hsu turns to Cheng and comments on the lengths that some men will go to obtain vengeance – unconsciously informing our hero (and the audience) of his own destiny. The scene was most likely omitted to due to pacing issues, but in the process, theme and character study suffer.
That said, as previously noted, we get numerous glimpses of Cheng's courtship with conflict, although it's always checked at the door - defused before it ignites. The set up works perfectly, as Cheng, essentially, comes to understand himself through his capacity for violence, which is both uncompromisingly brutal and significantly purifying. In an abstract way, the violence serves as confession, paving the way for redemption and allowing the character to come full circle, and embrace the animal he sought to suppress. On a fundamental level, the slaughter of his family becomes catalytic for the emotional arc he’ll fulfill in his journey. A literal example of this motif comes close to the climax of the film, when Cheng searches the ice factory late one night for clues to his cousins' disappearance. Bathed in an eerie red light (that suggests the blind rage to come) he discovers his cousins' corpse. The flood lights come on and we see: Cheng glaring at a group of thugs slowly encroaching ; lightning quick, he hurls his flashlight at one of 'em - impaling it in the guy's forehead. Then, using every weapon at his disposal - including a saw – he proceeds to systematically rip through each one of them with a serene savagery. This Zen-like dispassion has two exceptions: earlier when the jade locket is torn from his neck by one of the thugs, and in the final battle against Mi Hsiao, when he pushes his fingers through the villain’s ribcage and pummels his lifeless body to a pulp. If the broken locket represents the unleashing of  Cheng's inner beast then the final image of him collapsing from exhaustion on top of Mi’s dead body suggests the exorcism of that beast.

One of the major themes that separates ‘Boss’ from Lee’s other films is it's blatant exploration of sexuality. For the first (and only) time we see Lee sexually charged and uninhibited on celluloid, with sex manifesting into it's own character, figuratively mirroring the violence. Sexuality is prevalent through all of Cheng’s relationships with women: flirtatious with Nora Miao's girl at the ice stand, borderline incestuous with his cousin Chow Mei, and brazenly promiscuous with two prostitutes - the latter of these encounters was included in the original Mandarin print of the film, but not in the subsequent theatrical versions. In the scene, Cheng, having made his decision to take vengeance for the murder of his family, returns to the town bordello. In direct contrast to his earlier encounter with the first prostitute, he is no longer acutely self-conscious, but straightforwardly aggressive. He shoves the girl on the bed, fully disrobing in front of her - his naked body symbolic and representative of the sacrifice he’s willing to make in the face of death, as well as the spiritual rebirth that fuels that decision. Equally significant, is his departure from the room - particularly in the way he pays the girl for her service - delicately placing the last of his money on her belly. There’s both a sensual gravitas and a prevalent solitude that linger as he leaves the room. The scene was eventually removed from subsequent prints in an effort to preserve Lee’s screen image, following his designated status as a cultural hero and role model to the South-East Asian audience. I always found this rather ironic, considering the numerous affairs Lee had both in the US and in Hong Kong throughout the last five years of his life.
 
Additionally, of particular interest is the music used in the film. Soundtracks were not of much focus in those ol' chop socky films and typically ‘stock’ music was just added to them in post production. Although three different dubs were released, the most memorable is the English version which uses compositions by German musician Peter Thomas. Thomas was hired to create a soundtrack that would appeal to western audiences in the international market and  he delivered a wonderful hybrid of late 60’s/ 70's jazz fusion with a heavy  emphasis on synth and bass that, at times, is reminiscent of the experimental work of Chick Corea. Sparingly used throughout, the score not only increases tension, but also adds a surreal quality to the scenes – creating the effect of a sonic sculpture, taking a life of it's own. Moreover, it connects the viewer to the more primal elements that lurk underneath the scenes. This comes to the fore particularly in the final showdown between Cheng and Mi. Consisting of little more than an off- rhythm, machine gun style bass line, punctuated by a haunting synthesizer and guitar twangs, it creates a vibrant  sense of urgency as the two men face off. The result is classic mis en scene. In retrospect, it’s even more impressive that this was for all intents and purposes, serendipitous, as, in those days, that level of care was not normally given to those films. The resonance of these pieces is a testament to the brilliance of Thomas’ work and, specifically, the marriage of the instrumentation to the images in the film. No small feat considering that the Mandarin/Cantonese dubs utilized music by Pink Floyd.

All things withstanding, 'Boss' is by no means flawless. As is true of most Hong Kong film productions of the period, it was shot on a less than shoestring budget, and it clearly shows. Continuity is oftentimes ignored, the dialogue dubbing is abysmal and, at times, the film stock appears damaged. Additionally, Lo Wei’s direction occasionally falters into the absurd, including a comical shot of Lee punching a thug through a warehouse wall— leaving the imprint of the man’s body in the wood. The saving grace is Lee’s superb combat choreography – which, to this day, is still resonates as it did in 1971. For all the reported tension between Lee and Wei, it’s noteworthy that, in an early letter to his wife, Lee would write: ”The shooting is picking up steam and moving along much better than it was. The new director is no Roman Polanski, but as a whole he is a much better choice than our ex-director.” Lee was referring to the original director, Wu Chia-Hsiang, who was fired a few days into shooting, for both going over budget and having a lackadaisical attitude on the set. Indeed, the rift between Lee and Wei would come during their second collaboration on Fist of Fury. Lee was annoyed at Wei's penchant for taking credit for the fight scenes that Lee, himself, had choreographed, and for generally being more interested in gambling at the races than producing a high quality film (the feud would eventually come to a head at Golden Harvest Studios a year later when Lee threatened a terrified Wei, before authorities were summoned and Lee acquiescing to signing a document that stated he would not harm the director).

Despite its retread of generic tropes used in most martial art films of the time, Bossdiffers in that it embraces a distinctly pagan spirit, mainly through the protagonist's  inherent self indulgence and eventual sacrifice. This, essentially, allows Lee to create his own mythology, in the vein of Neitzche’s Übermensch, and is most apparent in the set up for the final battle: Cheng leaps over the tall metal fence, radiating a cool detached calmness, jacket casually slung over his shoulder, holding a bag of prawn crackers (which he continuously munches on). In that moment, he is an image straight out of western mythology. He is the gunslinger returning to town, seeking retribution. Through this, he fulfills a self imposed purpose and, morphs completely into the quintessential Western archetype. As Nietzsche wrote: “the spirit becomes a camel; and the camel, a lion; and the lion, finally a child.” In many ways, ‘Boss’ is a classic story told in a conventional way. It succeeds though, despite its failings, because it exhibits a consistency that other genre films lack. It's unabashedly operatic, yet it contains a distinct thematic honesty that leads it's hero (and viewers) through the process of innocence, self-reflection and fate. At it's core, 'Boss' is a true coming of age story.

This was Lee’s debut in a leading role, and it consistently showcases his instincts as an actor. I’m not uncomfortable stating that it may be his best acting role. Gone is the apparent self-awareness that dominated his role in the ‘Longstreet' television series (shot a few months prior) and replacing it is a more subtle, moment to moment, presentational performance that’s become the staple of occidental cinema. Interesting to note, it's is his most Western performance in his most Eastern film. The reason for this, I believe, is that Lee hadn't  fully committed himself to the Asian style of representational acting, which he relied on heavily in his follow up films Fist of Fury and Way of the Dragon. Not that those were bad performances by any means, but compared to level of depth that Lee gives Cheng, they're far less nuanced. The result is easily the most three dimensional character of all his adult films and while much of Lee's appeal can be attributed to the timeless boyishness of his face – his aura radiating a strong James Dean quality – as well as his tremendous physique, it’s fair to say this performance shows his capabilities as an actor. Quite revealing is a moment that occurs towards the finale when Cheng sits by the river, contemplating his past. As the camera slowly focuses in on his face, we see Bruce Lee, not Cheng, look up to the sky, prophetically catching a glimpse of the future: the ascension of his star(dom) and (im)mortality.

A final note: it’s been said that the events in ‘Boss’ were based on a true story. The details of that story and characters do not necessarily resemble that of the movie. But, as the old adage goes, one should not let facts stand in the way of truth, in a story. Keeping that in mind... allegedly, in Bangkok, there stands a statue that the townsfolk refer to as the Chinese Big Brother. Legend has it that many years ago, the man, whom the statue was modeled after, had done an incredible thing. His name? Cheng Chao Ahn.

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32 minutes ago, Alan C said:

Hello,

My name is Alan Canvan. I'm the author of an essay entitled "The Big Boss, A Perspective" that, to my shock, was swiped and posted here by a user who calls himself Fist of The Heavenly Sky. The post  has been up for nearly 3 and a half years (originally posted on 9/27/15) and this individual takes credit for writing the article  (as well as adding a few sentences of his own that are tonally inconsistent with my piece). My essay is copyrighted and I'm currently considering legal action. I'm reaching out to the members of this forum and the administrative team in good faith to help rectify this. Below is my original article which was plagiarized:

I never took credit for anything, and to be honest, it's kinda pitiful that, rather than showing any interest in becoming familiarized with the forum/community, you see it fit to showcase unwarranted self-importance just for showcasing an opinion on a Bruce Lee movie. With that said, I will admit that I did lift passages from your essay, and only because it was all but gone from the internet for many years now. I don't object to providing credit to you, since that's apparently the issue at hand, although I would prefer if you made further contributions and additions. I'm sorry that it came to this, and I hope you understand that I never meant to be malicious at any point.

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1 hour ago, Fist of the Heavenly Sky said:

I don't object to providing credit to you, since that's apparently the issue at hand

This would be great if you could edit your original post with the essay and credit @Alan C as the author, if you haven't done so already. Thank you guys for working this out. Now we can get back to the topic at hand, BRUCE LEE! 

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On 3/17/2019 at 1:17 PM, Fist of the Heavenly Sky said:

I never took credit for anything, and to be honest, it's kinda pitiful that, rather than showing any interest in becoming familiarized with the forum/community, you see it fit to showcase unwarranted self-importance just for showcasing an opinion on a Bruce Lee movie. With that said, I will admit that I did lift passages from your essay, and only because it was all but gone from the internet for many years now. I don't object to providing credit to you, since that's apparently the issue at hand, although I would prefer if you made further contributions and additions. I'm sorry that it came to this, and I hope you understand that I never meant to be malicious at any point.

@Fist of the Heavenly Sky we disagree entirely with your above post. Normally moderation is a private matter, but since you have publicly responded to the allegation and admitted to what you did in a most unrepentant and unapologetic manner, we will post our thoughts about the situation here publicly.

- When repeatedly praised by forum members for the essay you responded, but did not deny writing it. Therefore you took credit for it.

- Your judgement of the actual author's character for standing up for his own work is astonishingly warped, and if anything is "pitiful" or a "showcase (of) unwarranted self-importance" it would be your actions in using another writer's work, accepting praise for it, and your lack of regret for your plagiarism.

- You say "I will admit that I did lift passages from" but it is much more than that. Both versions of the essay, the original by the true author, Alan Canvan, and your altered version are now available for members to see for themselves.

Plagiarism will not be tolerated on the forum by you or any other member. Credit must be given for the work of others when posted here, or preferably a link to the original location of whatever writings members would like to share here. Thank you. - The Moderation Team

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Audio Question

I've posted this Hong Kong T.V clip here, because it features a section from The Big Boss. It's the famous shot of Han Ying-Chieh big boss, being hit by BL's flying kick around 1-minute 11secs. The audio makes BL character sound ike he's been dubbed by a woman screaming?. Never heard the hyena pitched war cry before, on any BB soundtrack.

 

 

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You can view the exact same clip at 5-14, in the video below, minus the high pitched BL war-cry on the soundtrack. Is the version shown in the H.K documentary, sourced from an alternative print?, to the one currently on the market?.

 

 

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Tony Liu and Bruce Lee rehearsing fight choreography?.

 

BL2437.jpg

 

 

With director Lo Wei.

 

BL864.jpg

Edited by DragonClaws

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12 hours ago, Killer Meteor said:

Bruce seems to drop a lot of weight between those two pictures.

 

There are stories of him just surviving on his vitamin supplments and protien, becuase the food in Pak Chong wasn't upto much at the time.

 

Future Martial Arts movie star Lam Ching-Ying stands in the background, next to the Thai extra's.

 

BL587.jpg

 

 

With Bruce Lee and Maria Yi, at the Big Boss's mansion location.

 

BL484Z.jpg

Edited by DragonClaws

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