The Big Boss Review
Bruce Lee Double Features
Shout! Factory has been on a tear lately, releasing a swath of Asian and martial arts films. Now, they are bringing out four of the true classics of the genre, with two Bruce Lee Double Feature DVDs, one with The Big Boss and Fist of Fury and the other containing The Way of the Dragon and Game of Death. Those readers out there who have been watching one of the myriad gray market semi-bootleg versions of these movies that have been floating around for years will find these to be a nice upgrade, but die-hard Bruce Lee fans looking for "ultimate editions" will most likely be left wanting more.
Given the elevated status these films have in the pantheon of martial arts cinema, the presentation is puzzlingly generic. From the lackluster covers to the absence of basic DVD staples like menus containing scene access, these come off a glorified budget releases. In reality, they are, with the price working out to about five or six bucks per film. Which really isn't all that bad, but there have been so many budget bin releases of these four movies, and it would have been nice for a US company to bring out special editions that really are special.
The movies themselves are presented decently enough. Shout! Factory, like their other recent releases of Hong Kong movies, used a source print from Fortune Star. The films are presented in anamorphic widescreen, with Dolby 5.1 or 2.0 soundtracks available. Compared to the scratchy and faded presentation most US DVDs of these films have had, it is really a world of difference seeing them in this state, even if they are not in high definition. However, these DVDs are missing the original Chinese language tracks. One might be able to forgive a somewhat generic presentation and lack of extras, but that lack is what really takes these DVDs down a notch, even for more casual viewers, much less passionate fans of the Little Dragon's work.
Here are some screen captures from the DVDs. They are unaltered grabs using VLC Player.
The Way of the Dragon
Game of Death
Fist of Fury
For comparison, here is a screenshot from the Madacy DVD of The Chinese Connection (aka Fist of Fury):
The Big Boss
Again, for comparison, here is a screenshot from the Fox DVD of Fists of Fury (aka The Big Boss):