Blind Fist of Bruce (1979)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2008-04-01
Summary: A pointless exercise
In “Blind Fist of Bruce” Yeh Chen Lung is a complete failure as a man of action. He is duped by two charlatans who pose as kung fu masters, keeping them as part of his household while paying them a salary. They go so far as to stage a phony robbery at the bank he owns so that Yeh Chen Lung can come to the rescue and route the bandits. Yeh and the two parasites are invited to dinner by the lovely Miss Hung who was present during the robbery but not threatened. The lunkhead buddies assume the restaurant is a brothel and that they are wasting time on eating dinner while waiting for Miss Hung to take the Yeh Chen Lung upstairs. Miss Hung responds by telling them that she doesn't run that kind of establishment but if they can do the same level of kung fu that her maidservant can they might get lucky. They are overconfident; she is extremely accomplished so they are soundly beaten.

The charade ends when Ho Fu Wei, a true tough guy, arrives and demands a loan from the bank. When Yeh Chen Lung tries to throw him out Ho Fu Wei beats him up without breaking a sweat. He then calls a meeting to tell the town leaders that he is setting up a society there to keep people from having accidents--if they pay him in advance they will remain safe. He is running a protection racket--most of the townspeople, merchants and local officials realize that they are no match for him. His thugs collect protection money from everyone, even shaking down an old blind musician trying to eke out a few pennies on a street corner. Who turns out, of course, to be the Blind Master.

Having been soundly defeated by Ho Fu Wei, Yeh then watches while Ho Fu Wei beats up his putative teachers. Watching this puts Yeh Chen Lung in privileged position the audience has had since the beginning of the movie; he is witnessing the action but is not involved in it he can see how inept they are. When Ho Fu Wei comes after him again he acts intelligently for the first time and tries to escape.

Yeh is in despair—his kung fu is a joke, his friends have deserted him for the bully, even his mother is threatened and wants to leave town. When he happens to see the Blind Master defeat Ho Fu Wei and his henchmen he takes heart, realizing that the Blind Master is the teacher he needs. This is the second time that Yeh Chen Lung is a passive onlooker and for the second time he has an epiphany that might change his life.

There is the usual difficulty in becoming a student—the Blind Master isn’t interested in teaching anyone but Yeh is persistent enough to convince him to teach once again. The training scenes aren’t very good—“Blind Fist of Bruce” reaches mediocrity only occasionally—but they do serve to push the plot in the expected direction. Yeh Chen Lung and the Blind Master together crush Ho Fu Wei, his two thugs who come armed with staves and short swords and also the former false masters who have gone over the apparent winning side. Peace is restored; Mom moves back to the ancestral home, the bank reopens and the captivating Miss Hung arrives with a big deposit. This harmony is short-lived, however. Ho has recruited the fearsome Tiger (who uses the snake method), a villain who has a history with the Blind Master. Tiger not only blinded him, he smashed his school, killed his daughter and scattered his students.

Tiger seems to enjoy killing people, the more helpless the better. While Ho Fu Wei is a criminal, out to enrich himself and willing to stack up a few bodies if necessary, Tiger kills because it is what he likes best. Clearly he will be the most formidable opponent Yeh and the Blind Master are likely to encounter.

There is very little to recommend here. The action is staged very poorly. It made sense that Bruce Li and the false bandits he fought would look stiff, sluggish and poorly coordinated in the first few fights since he was playing someone who had no fighting skills but was fooled into thinking he did. But most of the fights had the same stagy unrealistic quality, with fighters staggering from the force of punches and kicks that conspicuously missed their target. The battle in which Tiger was dispatched to his next life was dull, very poorly planned and terribly executed. Yeh Chen Lung and the Blind Master use a length of cloth to ensnare and finally strangle Ho Fu Wei but their clumsy stumbling around made it look the three of them were trying to jump rope. Since the comedy wasn’t funny, the pathos not pathetic, the characters flat and the plot one that was pulled off the shelf, all this movie had to distinguish it at all was the action—which was as bad as everything else.