Kung Fu Concussion Discussion - Bruce Against Iron Hand
Plunging his fists into the molten heart of Shou-Lao the Undying, a fire-breathing serpent, gave Danny Rand the power of the "Iron Fist", allowing him to focus his chi and enhance his natural abilities to extraordinary levels.
That’s how Mill Creek’s description read for “Bruce Against Iron Hand”…and I thought ‘Oh shit! Did we just stumble upon another Impulse Buy Theater Avenger?’ No. No we didn’t. We did, however, stumble upon a reasonably good kung fu flick…though not without flaws.
So, yeah, first thing’s first…that description? Ignore it. Turns out, someone’s killing martial artists. In fact, in the opening fight, we get a line that singlehandedly not only sums up every film in this collection (Iron Fist Frenzy) as well as Mill Creek’s other 50-pack (Martial Arts), but EVERY bad kung fu flick made from that late-60’s to early-80’s era of kung fu film: “You annoy me. You must die.”
IF ONLY I was allowed to use that in my day job…oh, I’d be a much happier man!
Ahem, I digress. Right…someone’s killing martial artists. Bring in detective ‘Bruce’, who just happens to be visiting from…wherever...let’s say, the afterlife. No…seriously though, this is one of the many Bruce Lee lookalike pics that popped up everywhere after his untimely passing. Here, we get Bruce Li who, in all honesty, doesn’t do a bad job…from certain camera angles, yeah, he looks like the original Dragon and from others…not so much. Well, it turns out that this killer has a particular style, the iron finger. So, our title has gone from Bruce Against the Iron Fist to Bruce Against the Iron Hand to now, lastly, Bruce Against the Iron Finger. So…if any part of that limb just below your wrist has any iron in it whatsoever, be extremely wary of guys named Bruce! See, who says this stuff’ll rot your brain? That’s a valuable life lesson right there! There also seems to be another MO for our killer, they’re not only martial artists, but they’re martial artists that recently porked the killer’s wife. Apparently, to master the iron finger, you can’t have sex. Ever. So…sadly, it looks like I’m an unwitting disciple of the art. [Insert loser trombone sound from The Price is Right here. Also, sharing too much. – Ed.] Turns out our villain is 1) a teacher/master at a kung fu school that is slowly poisoning the true master…um…because he’s eeeeeeevil? And 2) is somehow involved in a human trafficking ring bringing Vietnamese women to China for…um…let’s try to be clever and say some night shift work. [Really? You’re going to play it coy? Sigh. Just say it man…hookers. They’re brought to China to be ladies of the night…and no, dammit not vampires. – Ed.] Those last two things are really just subplots though. Actually, ‘subplot’ is being generous…they kinda just pop up out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. [You mean, like your paycheck once your girlfriend finds out about it? – Ed.] And you said I was sharing too much.
Moving on. So, we’ve got a woman out boning martial artists because the martial artist she’s married to can’t and human trafficking that leads to prostitution…thus, sex does indeed factor into the film. But, once again to borrow from living legend Joe Bob Briggs, it looks like the Turner censors got to this one before it made its way onto disc. There are between two and four scenes where you just KNOW boobs are going to make it on screen…and then a quick cut. Obvious. But here’s what’s weird, the aforementioned sexpot wife? In her scenes in the first half of the movie, she’s wearing a sheer nightgown that hides NOTHING. No cuts there…and all very visible. So, go figure.
Ultimately, this film is to be judged by its fight scenes and absurdist entertainment values. And in this, it delivers…much better than either of the movies I’ve watched from these sets so far. The fight scenes are well choreographed and, most importantly, well framed, composited and lit. Well…that sentence feels like I’m saying they’re great…they’re not. It’s fair to middling…but in a set with a heaping helping of crap, fair to middling seems like GOLD. As for absurdity, yeah…take a look at those subplots again and throw in a forced-in tragic romance and I think you can check all the boxes on your ‘there’s so much plot that there is no plot’ bingo card.
While it’s certainly nothing to write home about, yeah, Bruce Against the Iron Finger (or Hand…or Fist) is exactly what a set of 50 public domain kung fu movies needs…a shining light of averageness amongst the deepest, darkest dreck that Hong Kong had to offer. It’s movies like this that will give me the strength to continue on this journey. 3 movies down, 97 to go!