Fist of Fury (also known as The Chinese Connection) is a 1972 Hong Kong action martial arts film written and directed by Lo Wei, produced by Raymond Chow, and starring Bruce Lee in his second major role after The Big Boss (1971). Lee plays Chen Zhen, a student of Huo Yuanjia, who fights to defend the honor of the Chinese in the face of foreign aggression, and to bring to justice those responsible for his master’s death.

The film grossed an estimated US$100 million worldwide (equivalent to over $600 million adjusted for inflation), against a budget of $100,000. It was the highest-grossing Hong Kong film up until Lee’s The Way of the Dragon (1972).

Set in 1910s Shanghai, Chen Zhen returns to Jingwu School to marry his fiancée. However, he learns that his master Huo Yuanjia has died, apparently from illness, which devastates Chen. During the funeral, people from a Japanese dojo in Hongkou District arrive to taunt the Jingwu students. Wu En, translator and advisor for the Japanese dojo’s grandmaster Hiroshi Suzuki (the villain of the film), taunts Chen by slapping him on the cheek several times, and dares him to fight one of Suzuki’s protégés. They present a sign to Jingwu School, bearing the words “Sick Man of East Asia”, seemingly to insult Huo Yuanjia, describing the Chinese as “weaklings” in comparison to the Japanese. The protégé taunts the Jingwu students to fight him and promises, “I’ll eat those words if any Chinese here dare to fight and defeat me”. Chen Zhen wants to retaliate, but is prevented from doing so by Fan Junxia, the most senior student in the school.

Shortly afterwards, Chen Zhen goes to the Hongkou dojo alone to return the sign. He winds up fighting the Japanese students, defeating all of them, including their sensei, single-handedly. He smashes the glass on the sign and makes the students who taunted him earlier chew up the paper bearing the derogatory words, so as to make them literally “eat their words”.

Later, Chen takes a stroll to a park. A Sikh guard refuses him entry, due to a posted sign that forbids dogs and Chinese in the park. After the guard allows a foreigner to bring her pet dog into the park, a Japanese man approaches Chen and tells him that if he behaves like a dog, he will be allowed to go in. Chen beats up the man and his friends in anger. After the fight, Chen breaks the sign. The guard blows his whistle to alert the police, but the citizens who watched the whole fight help Chen to escape the park.

The Japanese students and their master retaliate by attacking Jingwu School on Suzuki’s orders. After causing severe damage, the Japanese students leave. Wu, accompanying the Japanese students, warns Jingwu School to hand over Chen. Chen returns and realises that he has caused big trouble. His fellow students are reluctant to hand him over to the Japanese, so they make plans to help him escape from Shanghai.

That night, Chen discovers that Master Huo had all along been poisoned by Tian, the cook. Chen then sees Tian and Feng Guishi, the caretaker, talking. Chen kills Tian, followed by Feng while trying to determine why they killed Master Huo. Chen hangs Tian and Feng’s bodies from a lamp post. Chen’s fiancée, Yuan Li’er, finds him hiding near Huo’s grave, and they share a passionate moment together. Meanwhile, Suzuki forces the local police inspector, Inspector Lo, to arrest Chen, but he eludes them. Then, while Suzuki is entertaining his visiting friend Petrov, Chen kills Wu and hangs his body from the lamp post as well.

The angry Suzuki heads to the Japanese Consulate and reports Chen, then sends his men to Jingwu School to kill everyone inside. That same night, Chen barges into the dojo to take his revenge, killing the students’ master, Yoshida, Petrov, and Suzuki. Chen returns to Jingwu School and finds most from Jingwu School and the Hongkou dojo dead. However, a few Jingwu students – among them Yuan, Fan Junxia, and Xu – remain, as they had also been searching for Chen at the grave site, acting on a tip from Yuan. Inspector Lo arrives at Jingwu to arrest Chen, who agrees to surrender himself to Lo to protect his master’s legacy. Lo tells Chen that he can always trust him since he is Chinese. As they exit the school, Chen faces a line of armed Japanese soldiers and officials at the outer gate, all pointing their guns at him. Furious, Chen charges the line and makes a flying kick. The film ends on this freeze-frame shot and the sound of gun shots, implying his death and final sacrifice.

The transcript below is from the video “FIST OF FURY (2020) | MARTIAL ARTS ACTION FILM” by MartialClub.

Martial Club (Promoting the Virtues and Ethics of Traditional Martial Arts in the Modern World):

Thank you to everyone for watching what we consider to be our most ambitious project yet! The story behind ‘Fist of Fury’ is a timeless classic and it strikes an emotional chord for Martial Club… frankly, it has changed each of our lives for good! The spirit of Chen Zhen that first ignited with Bruce Lee has been passed on from the likes of Jet Li and Donnie Yen and now burns in the heart of Martial Club! That defiance, that will to stand up against oppression has sparked entire generations of martial artists and rages on, never to be extinguished!

Martial Club (Promoting the Virtues and Ethics of Traditional Martial Arts in the Modern World):

We sincerely thank all of our fans for sticking with us this entire time! ‘Fist of Fury’ could not have been possible without the unwavering support of each and every one of you! We’re sending a HUGE shout-out to the Martial Club Stunt Family who sacrificed so much of their time and energy to make this vision come to life! We promise y’all that this is just the beginning of a new era for MARTIAL CLUB!!!

We’d also like to offer gratitude from the bottom of our hearts to the Westminster Aikikai Dojo in Westminster, CA for opening their sacred doors and providing the perfect backdrop for this passion project of ours! If you’re ever in the area be sure to drop by and show them some love!

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