Fist of Fear

"Fist of Fear, Touch of Death" premiered in 1980 as one of the final pieces of the Bruceploitation era. The Film Detective plans to release a 40th anniversary edition of the cult classic.

The Film Detective, a leading classic media streaming network and film archive that restores classic films for today's cord-cutters, will release a 40th anniversary edition of the cult classic “Fist of Fear, Touch of Death” in a special collector’s set March 31.

First presented in 1980 by veteran distributor and producer Terry Levene and director Matthew Mallinson, the action-packed “Fist of Fear, Touch of Death” premiered as one of the final pieces of the Bruceploitation era. A subgenre of 1970s cinema, Bruceploitation clung to the box office success of the Bruce Lee legacy after the star’s untimely demise in 1973, utilizing Lee lookalikes and archival footage from the legend himself. Carving a niche within the grindhouse market, Bruceploitation not only appealed to fans of the day, but has generated a cult status in recent years.

True to Bruceploitation fashion, “Fist of Fear, Touch of Death” features eye-popping combat scenes, putting the 1979 World Karate Championship at center stage with martial artists taking their shot at eliminating the competition and claiming the title of “successor to the Bruce Lee legacy.” Using mockumentary-style interviews in the film, hosted by Academy Award-nominee Adolph Caesar, a number of martial arts masters – including Fred Williamson and Ron Van Clief, among others – emerge from every corner of the martial arts world to give their take on whether any competitor can be deemed worthy of the Bruce Lee legacy.

Lee himself receives top billing in the film, appearing in archival footage dubbed “The Bruce Lee Story,” a chronicle of Lee’s early years partially taken from the 1957 film “Thunderstorm.” In the film, a kung fu move known as the “Touch of Death” shrouds Lee’s untimely demise in mystery, before returning to the World Karate Championship to watch the new victor claim the title.

“It was never meant to be a serious martial arts movie,” said Williamson, the film’s star. “It’s a comedy and satire – a bad movie that was good. Why was it good? It was entertaining, which is, after all, why you make a movie.”

“We are excited to be giving ‘Fist of Fear, Touch of Death’ the restoration it deserves in honor of its 40th year,” said Phil Hopkins, founder of the Film Detective. “Fans of Quentin Tarantino’s recent tribute to Hollywood’s Golden Age, ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,’ are sure to appreciate this grindhouse classic and new, never-before-seen special features.”

A drive-in circuit sensation in 1980, this special 40th anniversary collector’s set features a blood-red Blu-ray case and a 4K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative under exclusive license from the film’s original producers at Aquarius Releasing Inc.

Exclusive special features also are included. Stars Fred Williamson and Ron Van Clief are reunited for interviews, masterfully produced by Prince Henry Entertainment Group founder Frazier Prince. In addition, producer Terry Levene, director Matthew Mallinson and scriptwriter Ron Harvey give their behind-the-camera take on the film in new interviews conducted by producer and editor Jim Markovic as part of an exclusive, 30-minute featurette, “That’s Bruceploitation,” by Daniel Griffith from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures. Limited-edition Blu-ray copies will feature a special liner note booklet written by Justin Decloux and Will Sloan, hosts of “The Important Cinema Club” podcast.

Preorders for “Fist of Fear, Touch of Death” began March 3. The official release date is March 31, with a limited pressing of just 1,500 Blu-rays. To order and for information, visit www.thefilmdetective.com/fist-of-fear.