On July 20th, 1973; Bruce Lee left our world. The world he left was never the same, but somehow his fans and directors carried on in their own way. The fans he left behind were hoping for a great martial artist that could be just as good as the late Bruce Lee. The directors he left behind were hoping to capitalize on the look of Bruce Lee and find one who not only looked like Lee but performed like him. What happened as a result of all this? A whole lot of bad kung-fu films known as Bruceploitation films. These films ranged from the normal to the obscene including one where Bruce Lee fights James Bond & Dracula in Hell. Unfortunately for the Dragon Immortal set, that one did not make it. But this collection brings together ten that did.
This boxset of 10 movies on three discs brings together the best and worst of the films in the Bruceploitation era. Who am I kidding? These are all pretty bad. But let us analyze the wreckage and see if anything is salvageable. There is one movie called Fist of Death (Jackie & Bruce to the Rescue) where the old kung-fu master of the village gets killed by a gang simply known as the YMCA. The YMCA? Are they lead by an Indian and a cowboy who sing about a “Macho Man”? Incidentally the gang’s logo says YMGA but every actor in the movie calls them the YMCA. This all leads to some rickshaw driver who plays the Bruce Lee role and beats the gang and saves the day.
Let us try another one, Bruce against Supermen. The director was clearly trying to capitalize on the fact that Bruce Lee played Kato in about 26 episodes of the Green Hornet. Dr. Ting has made a special formula that could replace our foodstuffs. He gets captured and this leads to the Bruce Lee type character coming and taking care of business. This Bruce Lee is quite the ladies man which leads to an awesome cat fight over him in the middle of the movie. Truly epic, he gets caught sleeping around and they have a fight over him and then the next day, she acts like nothing happened. Jerry Springer has nothing on this.
They only get more bizarre. There is another one called Clones of Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee has died and some secret spy types have contacted a scientist. This scientist then makes three clones who take on a variety of assignments. Then, they have to destroy him too because he is evil. This movie is notable because it has Bolo Yeung of Bloodsport fame. It also has the best nudity of any film in the package at around 40 minute mark. Believe me, when these movies are as bad as they are, you have to find something to keep you occupied.
The other seven movies run the gambit of material. There is Bruce against Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow which sounds a lot like the Jackie Chan movie that propelled him to stardom. It’s not. Then there is Bruce’s Fist of Vengeancewhere Jack Le is guarding the book of Bruce Lee fighting techniques. (Cue A-Team music) They Call Me Bruce Lee is where Jack Le is guarding a book of Bruce Lee fighting techniques. Wait. That’s the same movie! Except in They Call Me Bruce Lee, he actually passes it off to Rey and Tito (at least it wasn’t Michael and Jermaine) who guard it for the rest of the movie. They even have some of the same fight scenes. To top it off, there is even a cartoon called Chinese Gods where they resurrect Bruce to take on some demons who are trying to take over the world. The demons apparently eat humans and get evil land barons to do their bidding for them. Cannibal scenes are included.
These films are bad. Some of them fall into the category of so bad they are good, but then most are just plain awful. The three best are probably Bruce Against Supermen, Bruce Lee’s Deadly Kung Fu and Clones of Bruce Lee. The rest of the films may produce side effects such as drowsiness to upset stomach to constant diarrhea. It’s best to make drinking games out of these films and invite a bunch of frat buddies (or sorority girls) over to your place for a wild & crazy night. That’s about the only way to reasonably enjoy this.
Since one can only assume that most of these movies are from the public domain circuit, the quality varies. This is the reason I went overboard on the screenshots. I wanted to show you that the overall quality of the movies varies from horrific to absolutely horrific. Okay, some of it is passable. Needless to say this is in full-screen, though there are movies where you get speckles of letterboxing. Couldn’t they have cleaned these up just a little bit?
The audio is in 2.0 Dolby Digital English but it’s about the same effect as two paper cups and some string. Again, the sound varies here from somewhat passable to I need subtitles cause I have no clue what is going on. You’ll get about what you expect and everything is in the center speaker, regardless of movie. Why is English dubbing always so bad in Kung-Fu movies?
Nothing unfortunately. Couldn’t they hire like Bey Logan (of Dragon Dynasty fame) to do a set of commentaries? Heck, they could hire me for the cost of food, mountain dew, and a roundtrip plane ticket. One more thing, I found something odd on the Chinese Gods presentation. Right at the beginning of the movie, there is a 2-second flash to what appears to be a dvd menu screen. (It doesn’t look like Video-Asia’s either) There also appeared to be extras for Chinese Gods as well. You would think while they took the time to copy the movie, they could at least copy the extras too.
We have come to an unfortunate end for a boatload of Bruceploitation chop-suey films. Films that are so bad, we might have to file for disability insurance. There will be some of you out there who will be clicking on the Amazon link and some who will be reaching for Tums. My only real recommendation for those who do like Bruceploitation films is to go find the mockumentary, Finishing the Game. For the rest, you’ll probably want to avoid this collection. It’s not the best of the worst, for 70% of the films, it’s simply the worst.
- Side A:
They Call Me Bruce Lee
Bruce vs Snake in Eagle’s Shadow
- Side B:
Clones of Bruce Lee
Fist of Death
- Side A:
Bruce’s Fists of Vengeance
- Side B:
Bruce Lee’s Deadly Kung Fu
Bruce Lee Against Supermen
- Side A:
Bruce’s Ways of Kung Fu