The Big Boss (partially lost original Mandarin cut of martial arts film; 1971)

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Original Hong Kong film poster.

Status: Partially Lost

The Big Boss is a 1971 martial arts film starring Bruce Lee. This film is often credited as Lee's break-out film, earning him international acclaim for his strong performance.[1] The film grossed nearly $50,000,000 worldwide against a tight budget of $100,000 making it was the highest-grossing Hong Kong film up until Lee's next film, Fist of Fury (1972).[2]

The original release included scenes that were removed during the "1972 Hong Kong Censorship Crackdown." The removed scenes were noteworthy for their violent content, including mutilation and gore,[3] and are mentioned in full detail on Wikipedia. The original cut was seen in Chinese cinema clubs from Britain back in June 1972.[4]


Some of these clips have been recovered from trailers of the film, while others believe the Mandarin cut to be in the possession of collectors, though this has not been confirmed. In 2004, a low-budget DVD company called Video Asia announced The Big Boss: The Version You've Never Seen! This was widely speculated to be the Mandarin cut of the film. However, the DVD release was ultimately cancelled, likely due to copyright issues from Orange Sky Golden Harvest, the film's distributor. In 2023, Arrow Video announced that they were in possession of an extended Mandarin cut, featuring ten minutes of previously unreleased footage.[5]

In July 2023, Arrow released a 4K UHD/Blu-ray boxset covering Bruce Lee's films at Golden Harvest, which includes a 4K restoration of this Mandarin cut of The Big Boss, as well as a raw 1080p scan of the film elements used for the restoration. Though it has now been released, several scenes speculated to have appeared in the movie's premiere print or shown before cuts requested by theater owners or the first round of censors, such as the "saw in the head" and "cutting up of the cousins" scene, remain missing.[6] A video essay called "The Not-Quite Biggest Boss," which talks more of these lost scenes, is included in the set as a bonus feature.[7] Prior to the set's release, the Mandarin cut was screened in several UK cinemas.[8]

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