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 HK "karate - kung fu" martial-arts masterpiece, it introduced Bruce Lee in his first breakout starring role as a formidable opponent in choreographed fight sequences - and contained many of Lee's trademarked actions seen in future films:

  • young Chineseman Cheng Chao-an (Bruce Lee), a city dweller who was sworn to non-violence to his mother (signified by the jade amulet necklace around his neck), moved from a northern province in China with his uncle to work in a blue-collar job at an ice factory in a rural area in Thailand with his extended family - mostly cousins, including his tough, martial-arts practicing cousin Hsu Chien (James Tien)
  • upon meeting his only female cousin Chiao Mei (Maria Yi), Cheng was powerfully attracted to her and flirted with her
  • the corrupt, heroin-drug-dealing and chief smuggler mobster Hsiao Mi (Han Ying-Chieh), known as the "Big Boss" - the head of the factory, was 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 workers (many of whom were Cheng's co-working relatives) were often bullied or bribed to keep silent by the Big Boss' thugs and henchmen
  • after Cheng's two cousins Chen (Peter Yang) and Wong (Li Hua-sze) discovered a package of white-powdered heroin that was being smuggled and hidden in a broken block of ice, the two inexplicably and bafflingly disappeared; it was learned that they were murdered when their bodies were chopped up by an industrial buzz-saw and hidden in frozen blocks of ice
The Mysterious Deaths of Cheng's Two Cousins

Heroin Hidden in Blocks of Ice

Retaliation for Witnessing Drug Trade: Buzz-Sawed Body
  • when two of Cheng's other cousins, Hsu Chien and Ah Pei (Billy Chan Wui-ngai), went to the Big Boss to inquire about the whereabouts of their two cousins who had disappeared, they also went missing
  • as a result of the many disappearances of the factory workers, they refused to work and revolted against the factory management; up to this point, Cheng had kept a restrained attitude in his retaliatory resistance efforts toward the Big Boss; during the chaotic fighting against thugs hired by the factory managers, Cheng's necklace was cut and 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
  • to buy off Cheng's opposition, he was appointed foreman of the ice factory, and he refrained from taking the side of the resistant protestors; during a dinner party, Cheng drunkenly dallied with sexy brothel prostitute Miss Sun Wuman (Marilyn Bautista); she ultimately warned him about the illicit drug-trafficking operation and cautioned 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
Cheng Enticed by Brothel Prostitute Miss Sun Wuman at Dinner Party and Afterwards - Showing Him Cigarette Torture Burns On Her Upper Right Chest
  • soon after her warnings, the brothel prostitute Sun Wuman was murdered by the Big Boss' murderous son Hsiao Chiun (Tony Liu/Lau Wing), who threw a knife into her heart (sometimes edited out of some reels)
  • to investigate on his own, Cheng discovered drugs in the factory, and body parts of his relatives hidden in blocks of ice; Cheng visited the Boss' mansion where he unrealistically jumped high over attacking German shepherds
  • Cheng vengefully fought one-on-one against the Big Boss' son and some of his followers when surrounded - 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
  • upon his return home, Cheng learned that all of his remaining family members had been murdered (and Chiao Mei had been kidnapped); he mused (in voice-over) about all of his murdered relatives (imagined in a row) 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
  • in the film's ultimate bloody and intense showdown sequence, Cheng entered onto the manicured green lawn grounds of the Boss' mansion; he calmly munched on a prawn cracker as six of the Boss' goons approached with knives to outnumber him
  • meanwhile, hostage Chiao Mei escaped from her holding cell and sought to alert the Thai police; Cheng single-handedly and quickly vanquished the menacing 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
  • there were two versions of the Big Boss' death: (1) in the R-rated version, he was simply stabbed in the chest with a knife that was thrown by the Big Boss but then deflected by Cheng's rapid kick back into him; (2) in the longer unrated version, Cheng was able to further ensure the Big Boss' demise 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, while the rescued Chiao Mei embracing him

Ice Factory Worker Cheng Chao-an (Bruce Lee)

Romance With Cousin Chiao Mei (Maria Yi)

Factory Owner "Big Boss" Hsiao Mi (Han Ying-Chieh)

The Big Boss - With a Masseuse

Cheng Restrained and Let Loose After His Necklace Was Cut

Brothel Prostitute Murdered by the Big Boss' Son With a Knife-Into-the-Heart

Cartoonish Wall Outline - Punching Gang Member Through Wall

Cheng's Musings About All His Murdered Relatives, Lined Up in a Row, by the Big Boss Syndicate

Cheng Surrendering to Police, and Being Embraced by Girlfriend Chiao Mei


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