Heart of Fists (1973)
Boris W. Disney
Neil Young (screenplay)
Boris W. Disney (additional meddling)
Genre: Action / Ill-advised Vanity Vehicle / Unreleasable / Martial Arts (more)
Tagline: See the FIST... and the damage done..
Plot Summary: A sensitive Canadian drifter and former CIA assassin is swept into the dangerous underworld of Chinese kung-fu mayhem after his van plummets into... (more) (view trailer)
Plot Keywords: Punching / Lonely boys out on weekend / Sideburns / Artistically unnecessary male nudity (more)
User Comments: No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no; no. No. No. No...(more)
User Rating: 5.0 / 10 (3,408,221,004 votes)
Cast overview, first billed only:
Neil Young ... Hank Ontario
Richard Harrison ... Wagner
Bolo Yeung ... Shep Ching
Angela Mao ... Lei Lin Ling
Chuck Norris ... "The Chook"
Pak-Kwong Ho ... Dragon (as Bruce Leigh)
Townes Van Zandt ... Gas Station Attendant
Stephen Stills ... Crosby
Also Known As:
After the Fist Rush (UK)
Corazon del Fistos (Fr)
Der Kickungharvust (Ger)
Chink Punch (Tenn)
Hola, Neil! (Spa)
Runtime: 208 min
Country: Canada / Hong Kong
Language: English, Cantonese
Aspect Ratio: 24:So Much More
Sound Mix: Only available on $400 Blu-Ray set
Filmometer: +4005% but why?
Certification: UK: Pardon? / Germany: Nein! Nein! Nein, nein, nein! / Canada: Mandatory / USA: #1 / Netherlands: Der Vajonker Leekin
- Director Boris W. Disney urged writer/leading actor Neil Young to change the film's title to the less awkward "Fists of Gold," but Young insisted that unless his character actually had golden fists the title would merely confuse the audience. The two men compromised by giving the main character golden fists but leaving the title unchanged.
- Despite the urging of both the studio and his record label, Young refused to record any music for the film's soundtrack, as he hoped to keep the project entirely separate from his musical career so that it might be judged on its own merits. Without Young's knowledge, the studio hired folk-rock group America to record a soundtrack instead. Nobody, including Young himself, realized that the soundtrack was not by Neil Young.
- On the first day of shooting, it became clear that Neil Young had no training in martial arts whatsoever; when producers demanded an explanation for their star's inability to perform the stunts demanded by the role, Young replied, "I saw one of these Hong Kong Foo movies, and if a fuckin' three-foot Chinee could do it, I thought I could, too."
- When Angela Mao declined perform nude during the film's love scenes, Neil Young volunteered to serve as Mao's body double, telling her "I can be plenty naked for both of us." The extremely soft focus did little to disguise Young's majestic sideburns.
- The role of The Dragon was written with Bruce Lee in mind, albeit with no intention of casting him.
- Director's Trademark: director's cameo (nude; leering at audience).
- To prevent Young's inability to kick higher than his waist from scuppering most of the planned action sequences, a life-sized marionette of Young was constructed from papier-mâché and operated by legendary Hong Kong fight choreographer Ben Wo Ricky. To minimize the incongruity of the steel wires used to hold the puppet, most fight scenes were filmed in rooms full of giant harps.
- Most of the film's Asian cast was hired sight unseen by Neil Young, directly from the credits of Enter the Dragon. "Basically by fuckin' mail-order," explains Young in the 2001 DVD commentary. Stunt player Tim Tam never appeared in a film again, and the consensus among historians of Asian film is that Young kept him.
- While the film went mostly unnoticed in America, it calamitously ruined the Hong Kong acting career of Angela Mao, who developed an unwarranted reputation for having an extremely hairy backside.
- On-set tensions resulted from Neil Young and Richard Harrison's difficult working relationship, which stemmed from an incident in which Harrison bought the publishing rights to Young's entire back catalogue and licensed the songs exclusively to the brutal regime of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. "I thought it would be funny," Harrison reflected later, "and it was funny and it makes me laugh even still."
- For his cameo as a philosophical gas pump attendant, Western folk singer Townes Van Zandt was compensated, according to Boris Disney, with "all the gasoline he could drink. I slipped the boy who ran the station a couple bills and told him to open the pump and not turn it off till Van Zandt was full up. Townes tried to refuse, he was a real humble guy that way, wanting to do the role for art purposes and whatnot, but I'm not gonna let my actors go unpaid, so we held him down and put the nozzle right up in there and turned on the pump till the automatic safety stop engaged." A recent biography of Van Zandt speculates that this may have been the cause of his death by spontaneous human combustion some thirty seconds later.
- Many among the Asian cast found it very difficult to work with Young, who uncannily resembles a Chinese mythical creature called the bei shang ye ren (loosely translated, "depressing, sad wild man"), a moping vampire caveman who depresses its victims to death and writes shaky acoustic ballads about their corpses. The situation became so tense that Bolo Yeung actually snuck into Young's trailer and nailed a scroll of warding into his forehead.
- Producers sought to add prestige to the title by including a relative of Bruce Lee in the cast. At the behest of the production, Bolo Yeung paid a visit to Harper Lee's Alabama home and surprised her with some light sparring. Yeung determined that the frail author was unsuitable for the picture after breaking a commanding majority of her bones (she did, however, contribute several jokes to the opening monologue).
- A young Chuck Norris was so soured on filmmaking during the production of Heart of Fists that he nearly quit acting forever; he was asked to stand in for Young during a fight scene against Norris himself, requiring hundreds of complicated takes in which Norris, wearing a huge wig, had to roundhouse kick himself in his own face.
- Richard Harrison was required to grow a full mustache each day for his role as Wagner, but had to shave it nightly due to his concurrently filming role in the Italian drama Il Poliziotto che in Particolare Non Dispone di un Baffi ("The Policeman who Specifically Does Not Have a Mustache").
- (Equipment or crew visible): Neil Young visible in movie.