The Real Bruce Lee (1973)

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Sure, there are several vintage clips of Bruce as a child on this DVD. I may be mistaken but I believe these are available elsewhere and in better form. There are also some essentially worthless clips of Bruce Lee doing Kato, and some Bruce Li clips.

Skip through all that if you like. Get to the “Dragon Lee” film, which begins near a waterfall with “Dragon” practicing. This begins one of the most surreal and satisfying bad kung fu movies you will ever have the joy to watch.

There is so much to describe, I couldn’t possibly contain it all here. The plot is the standard baddie doing the usual “control all the local kung fu schools” routine, but here it is being done by some *really* fake-looking Japanese characters, who mostly all sport Hitler-style mini-moustaches. Wonderful! Later in the film they bring in their “champion” who is of mixed Japanese-German descent. Perfect! There’s a lot of Japan-bashing going on here.

The real enjoyment of the film comes from this kind of thing:

– The wonderfully awful dubbing, some of the worst I’ve ever heard. Over the top evil giggling from the bad guys; WAY excessively long grunts and groans from injured thugs; and of course, plenty of squeals and whoops and “bucocks!” from the Bruce imitator. (Did Bruce ever really make that chicken sound? I wonder).

– The sets and costumes. Sets are horribly claustrophobic. There seems to be no space in the movie larger than an 8 x 12 foot sound stage, and most are even smaller. Costumes are painfully dowdy, raggedy, and crudely made, like cheap Halloween costumes.

– The kind of wire-work you only see in your dreams. You just have to see it to believe it.

– The almost total lack of back-story, or any attempt at providing a story of any kind. This movie plays out like a great Nintendo 8-bit game from the 1980’s (if you know what I mean) – just tons of action. It jumps from action sequence to plot contrivance and back again, with the barest whisper of dialogue and characterization in between. There are actually one or two characters we see several times, who are important to the plot, but whom we never get formally introduced to! We know almost nothing about them, and so feel nothing at their involvement or passing. It’s great, one-dimensional fun – never preachy, always entertaining.

Someone in another comment here said this was a Korean production, which would suit me just fine. The film *completely* lacks that Hong Kong or even mainland-China feel to it, and it is certainly not Japanese! Looking at a film like this, made in Korea in the early 1970’s, is like finding a time capsule – you see things you didn’t know existed, shown in ways you couldn’t have possibly imagined.

The movie is like a fever dream that you just can’t wake up from, and I mean that in a good way! Small, sweaty, illogical, and lots of unnecessary closeups.