Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Big Boss (1971)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Big Boss (1971, HK) (aka Tang shan da Xiong, or Fists of Fury)

In writer/director Wei Lo's "karate - kung fu" martial-arts masterpiece, introducing Bruce Lee in his first starring role as a formidable opponent in choreographed fight sequences - and containing many of Lee's trademarked actions seen in future films:

  • the character of young Chineseman Cheng Chao-an (Bruce Lee), sworn to non-violence, who moved from China to work in a blue-collar job at an ice factory in a rural area in Thailand with his extended family - mostly of cousins
  • Cheng's powerful attraction and flirtation upon meeting his only female cousin Chiao Mei (Maria Yi)
  • the character of corrupt, heroin-drug-dealing mob "Big Boss" - Hsiao Mi (Han Ying-Chieh), the head of the factory, and a skilled kung-fu master, who lived in a grand mansion with lots of vicious German Shepherds; often, he would be surrounded by female masseuses
  • the baffling and inexplicable disappearances of Cheng's bullied and often bribed co-working relatives: cousins Chen (Peter Yang) and Wong (Li Hua-sze) who were murdered after they discovered a package of white-powdered heroin hidden in a block of ice for smuggling purposes; their bodies were chopped up by an industrial buzz-saw and hidden in frozen blocks of ice
Heroin Hidden in Blocks of Ice
Retaliation for Witnessing Drug Trade: Buzz-Sawed Body
  • Cheng kept a restrained attitude toward his tough cousin Hsu Chien (James Tien) in resistance efforts, until his necklace was broken - allowing him to break his vow of non-violence; he decided to engage in his first major brawl against many of the Big Boss' henchmen at the factory; in an action sequence filmed with precise choreography, Cheng used energetic, deadly-accurate, lightning-fast high-kicks and swiveling movements to fight off numerous attackers; he then challenged the remaining group: "You wanna fight, I'll take you on!" - and when they resumed their attack, he dispatched all of the men (seen with POV kicks to their heads)
Cheng's Fight Against the Factory Henchmen
of the Big Boss
  • Cheng's drunken dalliance with sexy prostitute Miss Sun Wuman (Marilyn Bautista) in a brothel; she ultimately told him about the illicit drug operation and warned Cheng to be careful because his life "might be in danger"; she showed him her naked right breast scarred by cigarette burns when she was the Big Boss' girlfriend
  • the scene of Cheng's visit to the Boss' mansion where he unrealistically jumped high over attacking German shepherds
  • the murder of Sun Wuman by Hsiao's murderous son Hsiao Chiun (Tony Liu), who threw a knife into her heart (sometimes edited out of some reels)
  • later, Cheng vengefully fought one-on-one against Hsiao Chiun and some of his followers - and powerfully punched one of the gang members through a wall, leaving a perfect impact silhouette or outline of his body etched in the wall; then, he pummeled Hsiao to death in the abdomen
  • the scene of Cheng's musings (in voice-over) about all of his murdered relatives (imagined in a row) except for Chiao Mei (who was kidnapped), and the promises made to his mother Chow Mei (Maria Yi) as he contemplated his next move: "I promised my mother I'd keep out of trouble. I tried to do it, too. But now, I'm really in a hell on this. What can I do? If I had any sense, I'd get out of here. If anything happened to me, who'd take care of Mei? She needs somebody now. She's over 70. But I can't just walk away from this. I just can't do that. I can't!"
Cheng's Final Showdown Against the Big Boss
  • the ultimate bloody and intense showdown sequence on the manicured green lawn grounds of the Boss' mansion, where Cheng calmly munched on a prawn cracker as six of the Boss' goons approached with knives to outnumber him; he single-handedly and quickly vanquished the group ("Beat it, or I'll kill you, right now!"), and then the bare-chested, muscular Cheng faced off against the big Boss himself who was wielding two long knives; he was able to kill him with an infamous "death by finger impalement" technique into his rib-cage; then, Cheng repeatedly punched the Boss' face before collapsing exhaustedly onto the Boss' dead body as the camera zoomed out; he surrendered to police when arrested for his murderous revenge, with the rescued Chiao Mei embracing him

Ice Factory Worker Cheng Chao-an (Bruce Lee)

Romance With Cousin Chiao Mei (Maria Yi)

"Big Boss" Hsiao Mi

Cheng Restrained and Let Loose

Cheng With Brothel Prostitute

Prostitute's Knife-Into-Heart Murder

Cartoonish Wall Outline - Punching Gang Member Through Wall

Cheng's Musings About All His Murdered Relatives

The Rescue of Chiao Mei


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