Nice Little Clone of DRUNKEN MASTER + PRODIGAL SON
the kung fu kid | 02/29/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"BLIND FISTS OF BRUCE stars Bruce Li (real name Ho Chung Tao) whose most famous for being one of the Bruce-Lee-Alikes, actors directed to imitate the legendary Bruce Lee in strings of low budget films patterned after his in the hopes of cashing in on his popularity after he died. Bruce Li is probably the best of the bunch in that he not only possesses above average martial arts skills, but he's also a pretty capable actor when not simply copying Bruce Lee's mannerisms (ie. the thumbing of the nose, the Muhammed Ali dancing, the tasting of his own blood after he's cut and spitting it out, the gritting of teeth followed by violent screams and bursts of action, etc.). In fact BLIND FISTS OF BRUCE shows that Bruce Li could be put to good use copying not only Bruce Lee's films but those of Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao as well for it's basic story is a combination of SNAKE IN THE EAGLE'S SHADOW and DRUNKEN MASTER (inept young man makes good via hard training), and PRODIGAL SON (rich young man gets taken advantage of via poor training).The plot follows a young man whose hobby is kung fu. His teachers, however, are con artists rather than martial artists and in fact pay others to lose to Bruce's character (just like PRODIGAL SON). He finds the truth out the hard way as he gets beat up by a new thug in town who doesn't want to play by the rules. The two teachers ditch Bruce after this deciding it would be more to their advantage to kiss up to the thug whose bent on taking over the town. Bruce discovers that a blind old street musician (Simon Yuen, made famous by DRUNKEN MASTER) in town is really a kung fu expert and he pleads with the old master to teach him. The old man questions Bruce's motives at first refuses and refuses, but upon seeing Bruce's sincerity and determination to learn he changes his mind. A newly trained Bruce sets out for revenge and to rescue the town, but little does he know that the thug has a very powerful martial artist friend who in fact is the man responsible for his newfound teacher's loss of sight. Has Bruce's training prepared him for such a match? Find out in BLIND FISTS OF BRUCE!Although this film clearly borrows a lot from the afore mentioned superior films, it still manages to be quite good. The characters evolve as the film goes on, and all of the action scenes (which are plentiful!) make logical sense. The training scenes are also a blast, especially those involving the two "fake" teachers who teach Bruce such useless, but foolishly fun to watch, styles such as cat and dog, and you actually get to see the hero use the techniques he learns as his fighting gradually improves throughout the duration of the film. This is one area where Bruce Li's acting ability shines. You really believe his character can't beat his opponents at the beginning of the film, but that he just might be able to by the end. Though his fighting skill isn't as sharp as Bruce Lee's (though I don't know of many whose are!), Bruce Li is 100% competent in this film and garners a different kind of audience involvement than that generated by the real Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee's movie characters are always better fighters than his opponents and there's never any real question whether or not his superman skills will prevail. The audience reacts mainly to his screen charisma and his incomparable martial artistry. Bruce Li, on the otherhand, while perhaps less charismatic and less skillful a martial artist than his predecessor, is able to capture audience involvement through sympathy because the characters he plays, in some of his films such as this one, are allowed to progress and develop giving the audience a more human character to relate to and cheer for due to his flaws and his desires to overcome his weaknesses. BLIND FISTS OF BRUCE presents some very nicely handled fight scenes (right from the start!) that arrive at frequent intervals and that, like the story itself, progress, both in length and display of skill. The villains are so vile (con artists, thiefs, rapists, murderers) that they help the fights have meaning, giving you someone to really root against. The weakest part of the film, unfortunately, comes during the climax as Bruce Li and Simon Yuen team up against the most dangerous villain in the film. The choreographer here fails to capture Simon Yuen's strengths, which are his charisma and cleverness, and instead of creating a fight that utilizes those aspects he chooses to have the villain all to obviously slow down his movements to allow for Simon's lack of speed. This could have been avoided by using a more creative approach such as allowing the villain and Bruce Li to go at it full speed with Simon being positioned in the right place at the right time to deliver his blocks, ducks, and hits. This is a minor quibble, however, as Master Yuen still illicits so much charm and at many points does still get to showcase some nice movement for a man of his (or any) age. I'd rate this as one of Bruce Li's best vehicles, and highly recommend it to fans of old school kung fu revenge flicks that contain ample doses of comedy and training sequences. (For fans of Bruce Li, I also HIGHLY recommend the film IRON DRAGON STRIKES BACK!)"