AKA: Sonny Chiba's Fighting Fist, Sonny Chiba: Fighting Fist, Lady Cop in Fury, Bully, Haken
Year of release: 1992
Directors: Sonny Chiba, Casey Chan
Action director: Ho Wing-Cheung
Producer: Casey Chan
Writers: Casey Chan, Yamamoto Masaru
Cinematography: Kwan Chi-Kan
Editor: Cheng Keung
Stars: Sibelle Hu, Sonny Chiba, Chin Kar-Lok, Song Lei, Ken Lo, Shiotani Shogo, Ishibashi Masashi, Matsuda Masaru, Gam Biu, James Ha
Rated IIB for violence
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This Hong Kong/Japanese co-production doesn't break the mold for contemporary action films when it comes to story-telling, and the acting isn't likely to win any awards. But, as you might expect for a film bearing the name of the legendary Sonny Chiba, if you're in the mood for some good old-fashioned hard-hitting and bloody action that doesn't require a speck of thought or introspection on the viewer's part, Fighting Fist will fit the bill.
Even though Chiba is given top billing and a prominent spot on the cover art of most versions of Fighting Fist, he works mostly behind the scenes here as a co-director, along with Hong Kong C-lister Casey Chan. Chiba's onscreen time is limited to a cameo as the "handler" of a rogue Japanese cop, Sato (Shiotani Shogo), whose blood-soaked quest to bring down the crime boss Jimmy Lee leads him to Hong Kong, where his heavy-handed tactics attract the attention of CID officers Julia (Sibelle Hu) and Teddy (Chin Kar-Lok).
The script (written by co-director Chan and Shiotani Shogo) doesn't deviate much, if any, from the tried-and-true template these cheapie action films seem to follow. Sato and the Hong Kong cops don't get along at first, but then they bond after getting into a fight with Lee's thugs (one of whom is Ken Lo in a wonderfully smarmy henchman role) and then decide to crack the case together, much to the chagrin of their superiors.
There are also the seemingly mandatory, yet extraneous, elements nine out of ten pictures of this budget and genre share, such as a cute damsel in distress (Song Lei), a partner that provides buffoonish comic relief (Matsuda Masaru), and, of course, a rigorously and ridiculously extended and detailed training sequence where Sato painstakingly learns the ultra-double-secret pressure point technique that will allow him to sneakily kill Lee. To give some credit to the film-makers, at least we don't get any annoying little kids or sappy pop music-filled montages plopped in.
For as much as Fighting Fist falters in the exposition department, it -- like many low-budget Hong Kong productions from the late 1980's to early 1990's -- gathers enough steam from its' action sequences to make a viewing worth your while. While there aren't quite enough scenes of flying fists of fury, what is presented is definitely satisfying. While the prop guns employed here look like something bought from a Kay-Bee Toys clearance sale, Fighting Fist goes full-bore in employing creative and liberal uses of severed limbs and spurting fountains of blood, which ends up going a long way to making the audience forgive and forget (at least somewhat) the mis-steps the movie makes in many other aspects.