action, martial arts, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: April 21st, 2014 Movie – The Big Fight (1972)

the big fight

Ahh, starting off the day with some martial arts action. This is a good way to get the blood pumping. Now the only question is, what kind of movie am I getting with this movie. Am I getting a movie that is mostly drama with a little bit of action, or a movie that is all action and no story. Personally, when it came to these 70’s martial arts movie that were all over the place, I generally preferred the ones that were a lot of action with no coherent story, though there were some obvious exceptions such as any Bruce Lee movie. Well, with a title called The Big Fight, one can only hope that there is a lot of action.

The plot: In WWII China, part’s of China was occupied by the Japanese, who set up tyrannical and oppressive rules to keep the citizens in line.At a dojo, a visiting Master, Master Woo, is watching the students and comments about one of them being a great fighter, then proceeds to fight and seriously injure the kid, much to the shock of the dojo’s master and students. Elsewhere, a farmer, Chou Hai-Chuan is stopped by a patrol of Japanese soldiers but when they try to force him to move his cart out of the way, he fights and kills all of them, then leaves with his cart. Hai-Chuan stops at a restaurant to eat, listening to a woman, Miss Liao, sing on stage as he does. When a man, Chin Tai, tries to accost the Miss Liao, she runs from him and ends up hiding behind Hai-Chuan. Not liking Hai-Chuan’s sticking up for the girl, Chin Tai orders his men to force him to leave but Hai-Chuan fights them and quickly runs Chin Tai and his men out of there. The owner cautions Hai-Chuan, saying that Chin Tai is friendly with the Japanese, which is why he acts like such a big shot around town. Miss Liao and her band tell Hai-Chuan to follow them and lead him out of town. As they are walking, Miss Liao stops and messes with a scarecrow and Hai-Chuan asks about it but she doesn’t answer, instead saying she knows who Hai-Chuan is and is happy to have run into him, as they had been looking for him. They continue walking and Miss Liao explains she is part of the rebellion against the Japanese and Hai-Chuan says that if she calls on him, he will gladly help. The group make their way through a Japanese checkpoint when they encounter Chin Tai and some more men, who begin fighting with them. The Japanese soldiers get involved but Hai-Chuan, as well as Miss Liao and her band, are easily able to kill them all. Meanwhile, Master Woo shows up at a woman’s house and talks with her briefly before he ends up raping and killing her. He later goes to his father, who asks why he killed the woman, and Woo tells him that she was a guerrilla who tried to kill him. Hai-Chuan leads Miss Liao and her band to his family’s dojo where they can stay, then goes for a walk with his fiance Shu-Shen. While they are out, Miss Liao goes looking for Hai-Chuan and encounters Woo, who tries to seduce her but she spurns his advances and when he tries to grab her, is able to fend him off until Hai-Chuan and Shu-Shen arrive and calm things down. Upset over the slight he received from Miss Liao, Woo eagerly goes out to handle the surprise census that the Japanese have ordered performed and when he goes to the inn, he finds the salt that Hai-Chuan had brought and has him arrested as a traitor. In the prison, Woo interrogates Hai-Chuan, claiming he brought the salt to make gunpowder in order to overthrow the Japanese occupation. Miss Liao and her band want to break Hai-Chuan out of prison but Hai-Chuan’s family choose to be more diplomatic and have Hai-Chuan and Woo’s teacher appeal to Woo’s father to get Hai-Chuan released. After he is released, Hai-Chuan heads to the dojo and is helping teach the class when Miss Liao appears and watches them. Suddenly, Woo shows up with some Japanese soldiers, saying he is there to capture unexpected intruders in the village. Searching the dojo’s grounds, Woo and the Japanese commander accuse one man of being a rebel and end up killing him, then the commander goes to rape the man’s wife but she kills him then shoots herself. Some time later, the Japanese general in charge of the area shows up at Woo and his father’s house and the Woo’s tell them their plan to help the Japanese take out the rebel fighters in the area by holding a tournament and having their best fighters take on the local fighters. During the first day of the tournament, the Japanese fighters (a judo master, sumo master, and karate master) kill two men and severely injure two more. As they discuss the situation later that night, Hai-Chuan says that they should try to avoid fighting in the tournament, as it is simply a means to draw them out. The next day, Miss Liao and Hai-Chuan’s teacher decide to go against Hai-Chuan’s wishes and end up competing and end up besting the three Japanese fighters, though Hai-Chuan’s teacher is severely injured in his fights. With their fighter’s defeated, the Japanese then summon the brother of the karate master, who is an even greater fighter, while Woo has the dojo attacked, killing most of the students, as well as Shu-Shen and Hai-Chuan’s brother. The young boy is angered at seeing his friends killed and goes after Woo, knowing he was responsible, but ends up being killed by the karate master. Hai-Chuan finds out about the attack and goes to stop the boy only to get there as he is killed. Hai-Chuan ends up fighting the karate master and is eventually able to kill him. Seeing their champion fall, the Japanese general orders his men to fire at Hai-Chuan, causing a riot in the crowd as they begin fighting with the Japanese. Miss Liao and her band join up with Hai-Chuan and help with the fight, eventually killing most of the Japanese leaders. Woo and his father are captured and killed by the angry villagers and Hai-Chuan and Miss Liao head out to continue fighting the Japanese.

This was a decent movie but, like most of these movies around this time, it was a little confusing. The acting was ok but the dubbing for the movie added to the confusion of what was going on in the movie more than telling the story at times.. The story was interesting, using the historical occupation as the setting making for a great plot device to explain the high tensions among people. Even with the setting helping things out, the story felt somewhat disjointed and didn’t seem to click as a whole, but I tend to attribute that disconnect with the dubbing a lot of times, as they try to make the dialogue fit their own story instead of it being what the original directors intended. The fight scenes were pretty well done and this did have a fair amount of good action in it. The one thing I didn’t care for was the ending, as it just stopped suddenly and didn’t seem to give any real resolution to the movie but left it too open ended. It’s a good time killer movie and definitely a fun movie to watch for fans of the genre.

Rating: 3 out of 5


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