Jing wu men [1972]

This early film of Jackie Chan's was meant to shepherd him into the '70s kung fu genre pantheon made internationally popular by Bruce Lee. Indirectly it did, but probably more out of positioning than performance. Chan was to assume Lee's position as kung fu superstar, made evident by his role in New Fist of Fury (1976), the somewhat clunky chop-socky sequel to The Chinese Connection (on which Chan had worked as a stunt man). Directed by Wei Lo, New Fist of Fury picks up with two siblings fleeing a Japanese-occupied Shanghai for Taiwan, where their grandfather runs a Kung Fu school. However, a Japanese martial arts teacher has plans to run all the schools under his own name, eventually killing the grandfather. Chan plays a young thief who, at first, wants nothing to do with fighting but then finds his calling as the new leader of rebels against the Japanese occupation. Chan of course is no Bruce Lee (although during one dramatic sequence, a still of Lee is cut into the frame to "remind" viewers of the filmmakers' intentions) but New Fist of Fury marks Chan's first entry as a leading actor in Hong Kong action films. --Shannon Gee

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