The Last Fist Of Fury (1977)



No, this is not Bruce Lee. It just isn’t. Really.

lastfistHere is a treat. An authentic Dragon Lee movie! Starring Dragon Lee 巨龍 거룡, whose Bruce Lee impersonation is so perfect it borders on the surreal. Bruceploitation at its best, it is hard to tell that this was originally a Korean movie. The original version is lost, so we have to make do with the dubbed version(s). Dragon Lee starred in a number of Bruceploitation movies in the late seventies to eighties, mainly co-productions with Hong Kong companies. He truly looks like Bruce Lee, although slightly bloated, and his mimicry of Bruce Lee’s moves is superb. The Last Fist Of Fury (also known under at least ten other titles of which reputedly Dragon Lee Does Dallas is one; one wonders) is a simple Dragon Lee vehicle. He comes to town to avenge the death of a friend, the owner of the Cheongmu martial arts school in the title. The story is set in China, although the actors don’t take the dress code very seriously. It is furthermore set against the background of the Japanese occupation, as Dragon is forced to take on Hitler lookalike Yoshika (played by Dragon Lee side kick Choi Min Kyu), the local Japanese commander who can’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag, but nonetheless is feared by all. When he is finally beaten by Dragon, enter the real villain, überbaddie Gruber, son of a Japanese mother and German father and hence twice as dangerous and evil as Yoshika (well, his goatee was a dead giveaway I guess). Much of the fighting is really quite bad, the rest is old school Kung Fu, but Dragon Lee looks fabulous and fabulously funny. The dubbing has the (unintended) effect of making the dialogs even worse than they originally must have been. Throw in a white ninja, consistent over-the-top acting and fighting, literally incredible special effects, bad decors and worse costumes, and actors that take themselves very seriously and you get a very, very funny and sympathetic movie. There are so many strange and intriguing things about this movie: the weird synthesizer soundtrack, the sometimes startlingly original weaponry, the indiscriminate mix of Chinese and Korean martial arts and uniforms, the Nazi-like paraphernalia of the bad guys. It’s just great fun and you don’t get them more pulpy than this one.

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