Why Big Boss’ First Director Thought Bruce Lee’s Kung Fu Was Terrible

While Wu interpreted Lee’s approach as a lack of real talent, it appears that the actor had a completely different reason for wanting to keep his fight scenes brief. Lee’s dislike for Hong Kong kung fu movies, which has been documented in the past, is indicative of the problem Lee had with Wu’s vision for The Big Boss. Wu wanted long action sequences complete with intricate, dance-like choreography. While this was consistent with how most martial arts movies were made at the time, it wasn’t what Lee believed was best for the movie. According to Polly, he felt that his movie should portray how he would fight in real life, which was why it was so important to him that he beat his opponents quickly and decisively.

Convinced that Lee was not the martial arts expert he was cracked up to be, Wu argued that Golden Harvest had been “swindled” into hiring him. However, the outcome of the dispute proved that Wu was in the minority on the issue. Polly wrote in his book that Chow, who saw Lee’s moves in a completely different light, took the actor’s side and replaced Wu with Lo as its new director. And given the box office records The Big Boss broke in Hong Kong and the way in which it transformed Bruce Lee into a martial arts sensation, it’s hard to argue with the notion that Chow’ assessment was the correct one.

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