Back in the early days of VHS Charles Band, the man behind Empire Pictures and Full Moon Films, (which produced this), had a company named Wizard Video. They quickly grabbed attention by releasing some obscure and sought after films along with lots of unknown Europe genre fare. In order to promote the more obscure films and make some money they released several compilation videos featuring trailers and particularly exploitable scenes from the films. Probably everybody into genre film back then rented The Best of Sex and Violence and Zombiethon at least once. Well now they’ve gone back to those days and given us Fists of Fury, a collection of trailers from classic and not so classic martial arts films hosted by Cynthia Rothrock, best known for the China O’Brien films.
By now trailer compilations are common enough and the novelty is long gone. It also means that most of the trailers will be familiar to anyone who’s seen a few collections or is really into the genre. And don’t be expecting to see Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris or Jackie Chan, there are some great performers represented here such as Rothrock, Angela Mao, Bolo Yeung, Sho Kosugi and my favorite Sonny Chiba but this collection is from before the genre broke out of the grind house and into the suburban multiplexes for good.
It also means most of the films are the Asian ones we grew up watching on Kung Fu Theater every Saturday. Bruce Lee’s Greatest Revenge, Deadly China Doll and the early Sammo Hung film, Enter the Fat Dragon are all represented, as are less television friendly films like The Streetfighter, (the first action film to get an X rating for violence) and it’s sequel Sister Streetfighter. Some non Asian films also show up such as the Ozploitation gem Man from Hong Kong and the martial arts James Bond wannabe The Jaguar Lives.
There’s even the women in prison crossover Ebony, Ivory and Jade thrown into the mix. Oddly missing though are martial arts/horror hybrids Hammer’s made in Hong Kong spy film Shatter turns up, but their Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires is missing, so are such batshit crazy delights as Kung Fu Zombie, Kung Fu From Beyond the Grave or Raw Force aka Kung Fu Cannibals. Given Full Moon’s horror output this is an unexpected oversight.
So while redundant for the seasoned fan, Fists of Fury is worthwhile watch for newcomers to martial arts cinema, those who want a look back it it’s roots or those who want to see how well Cynthia Rothrock has aged. Fists of Fury will be released on DVD on January 20. Fans can get their copy at FullMoonDirect.com, on Full Moon Entertainment’s Amazon Channel and via FullMoonStreaming.com