FOOT FIST FRIDAYS: James Tien Outshines The Dragon in the Martial Arts Classic THE BIG BOSS!

By: The Cinema Drunkie

It goes without saying that Bruce Lee is the single most important figure in modern martial arts. From his breakout role in The Big Boss till his final role in Enter the Dragon, the film that made him an instant international icon, he changed the way we looked at action, and single handedly put martial arts on the map. So yeah, he’s kind of a big deal.

Unfortunately, a big deal like that tends to overshadow other deals that could have easily been a big deal themselves under different circumstances. In one instance, a deal by the name of James Tien.

James Tien will most likely be remembered best as a supporting role player, as he was most prolific in that throughout his long career. But did you know he was almost the star of The Big Boss? Tien, having already made quite a few films, even garnering a starring role in one called The Shaolin Killers, was cast in the lead role Cheng Chao-an and Bruce in the supporting role of his cousin Hsu Chien. But after a switch in directors, it was decided to switch actors as well, and Tien was given the supporting and Bruce the lead. And as they say, the rest is history.

But what Tien had remained the star? Would he have gone onto mega-stardom like Bruce? Would The Big Boss have even been a hit with Tien as the star? Who knows at this point. But I for one would like to say, even if it was with The Big Boss or something else, James Tien could’ve, and should’ve been a bigger star.

He had the looks, the charisma, the talent, and the physical abilities to make it. And that’s showcased perfectly in today’s topic of this edition of Foot Fist Fridays: the first fight scene of The Big Boss.

For context: After his younger brother is assaulted by a bunch of thugs, he steps in to kick ass. And what results is a down and dirty brawl where Tien kicks the crap out of everybody. Sure, it’s not as polished as Bruce’s fight scenes, but that’s fine, because Tien is a different beast. There’s no grace to him. He’s more brutal and gritty in his style. More like a street fighter. And that’s absolutely great.

This scene is a favorite of mine, as well as my dad, who finds it hilarious how easily the fight ends, as well as, more morbidly, the assault of the little brother.

But enough chit-chat. Let’s all now sit back and watch the martial arts prowess of the awesome James Tien as he beats the shit out of some Thai thugs. Take it away!

About The Aurthor: With his mind utterly intoxicated off of a steady stream of movies, comics and cartoons, a young boy from Brooklyn, New York grew up to become the man known as… THE CINEMA DRUNKIE!!!

One thought on “FOOT FIST FRIDAYS: James Tien Outshines The Dragon in the Martial Arts Classic THE BIG BOSS!

  1. James Tien was originally given the lead role for The Big Boss but as filming progressed, it became apparent that Bruce Lee was the more skilled combatant and the roles were reversed, with the director, Lo Wei, giving Tien the supporting role.


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