Siu Chow (Judy Lee) is a good natured woman but with a fiery temper which is always getting her into fights. One day, whilst visiting the local tea house, she happens to intervene in a brawl between a gang and two Republican government agents. After a few dextrous displays of Kung Fu, Siu Chow manages to easily defeat the gang but unfortunately cannot save the agents who die after being badly beaten. The man’s dying wish is for Judy to carry out the top secret government instructions on a piece of paper that he hands to her. So it is from this point on that Siu Chow takes it upon herself to fulfil and carry out the dying man’s final wish.
Running parallel to this story is another plot line which now takes precedence over the previous, aforementioned opening sequence. An attractive and popular local performer, Su Ling Ling, is ambushed in her horse and carriage by a group of unruly bandits lead by Tsai Hung. On hand to save her is Ling Chun (Yueh Hua), who swiftly dispatches the rogues and escorts the lady back to the apparent safe haven of her home. After an unfortunate misunderstanding, the lady’s husband Ku Shan (Lo Lieh), accuses his wife of trying to elope with Ling Chun and the two men enter a bitter and deadly feud. What’s worse for Yueh Hua is that his wife is Siu Chow who, in a previous fit of jealousy, had also suspected her husband of adultery!. After a series of violent public clashes and spats, the truth is finally revealed to Judy and Lo Lieh who both apologise for their actions. It is here that the government plot weaves back into the main story as the action now shifts focus on the troublesome gang from the start of the film headed by the powerful Yu Chung Cheng (Shan Mao). It unfolds that the directive from the secret government letter was to assassinate the leader, and after Yu Chung Cheng takes Su Ling Ling away from Lo Lieh (“You said you didn’t want her anymore!?”, the three leads are finally united to take down their common enemy in a violent and destructive finale…
‘The Fierce Fist’ is a fairly enjoyable punch & block film which benefits greatly from a strong cast. The story itself is fairly unoriginal and towards the end gets bogged down by some puerile and unnecessary comic relief in the form of two bumbling country bumpkin characters. The film is also marred by a slightly weak ending. Even though Shan Mao is a good on screen fighter, his presence is not menacing enough to be able to successfully convince in the role of the final main villain.
However, despite these complaints, there is some very noteworthy martial arts on display.
Judy Lee has several stand-out fights in the first half of the film and also displays some wonderful shapes with her crane style against Lo Lieh. Her on-screen chemistry with Yueh Hua is very complementary and works well, though she is sadly left out of the final fight.
Yueh Hua gets most of the screen time and his one handed fight with Shan Mao is one of the films highlights. Lo Lieh excels in yet another slimy role and is given some choice lines, my favourite being one of his retorts to Yueh Hua – “ You seem a fine and upstanding man but beneath that smooth veneer you’re cheap!”. His martial arts seemed more fluid than usual in ‘Fierce Fist’, which was refreshing to see, as he is often under utilised in many independent productions.
The film was also blessed with a few unique touches, one of which was Shan Mao’s gravity defying moves and his giant ball and chain weapon which looked like a metal pumpkin!. There was also an extremely crass gorilla attack on Su Ling Ling which, although undeniably goofy, managed to add a little bit of low budget charm to the proceedings.
If you’re looking for intricate plot twists and a killer ending then ‘Fierce Fist’ will not be the film for you, however, if you don’t mind sitting through the slightly uninspired story then the more perseverant of viewers will find some great performances and martial arts hidden beneath the films rough exterior.