About ten years ago I bought a DVD player from the Blockbuster in Finchley. It cost me £200. I could have got a much better one for that sort of money but you see this one came with 50 free movies! Bargain!
Well the DVD player is long gone but the movies remain for two reasons, firstly and ironically the cheap double sided discs would not play properly in the cheap DVD player they came free with and secondly, despite starring such luminaries as Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe they are uniformly awful. Seriously, the biggest film of the bunch is The Lawnmower Man!
As the years have rolled by they have sat on my shelf in the ‘I’ll get round to them some day’ pile and what better reason to get stuck into them than to inflict my reviews on you gentle people.
As well as a review I shall be giving them a mark out of five which will not only be an indication of quality but a prediction of their very immediate future:
***** Might actually keep
**** Attempt to sell on Ebay
*** Straight to the nearest charity shop
** Straight to the nearest bin
* Will give away as a gift to anyone who makes me listen to Coldplay
So here goes…
Bruce Lee – The Man The Myth
‘Bruce Lee – The Man The Myth’ is a biopic about Kung Fu legend Bruce Lee, staring renowned Bruce Lee impersonator Bruce Li (real name Ho Chung-Tao). If that sentence hurt your head then I’d back out now if I were you. Go on, I understand.
You see, BLTMTM (as it shall hereon be known) is a biopic with a twist. The film makers decided, in a revolutionary take on the biopic tradition, to brush over such life events as Bruce’s first major role in The Green Hornet, the birth of his children, or his marriage to Linda Lee, and instead decided to focus on mostly fictionalised street fights, Bruce doing weights workouts in the gym, and frankly bizarre scenes of him willfully electrocuting himself or punching strange machines.
Most important life events are brushed over by a narrator or simply ignored altogether. In fact the film seems so desperate to race towards its next fight scene that it may be one of the worst paced films I’ve ever seen. Suddenly he’s played Kato, suddenly he’s in a completely different country, suddenly he has a wife and kids, couple of headaches, dead! They even drive a final nail in the coffin marked ‘fact’ with a surreal coda that suggests that Lee may have faked his death and disappeared. Poised to return in 1983!!
So why the four star rating? Well, despite this being a terrible, terrible, film, it is, without a doubt, the most entertaining movie I have watched so far in this interminable series. Therefore I have decided that the films hereon out shall be ranked by how much I enjoyed them, rather than as an indication of actual quality (I’m pretty sure I’ve been doing this unconsciously anyway).
Yes this film is awful. The transfer is so scratchy that I had pirate videos in the 80’s that looked better, the ADR (the dubbed over voices) is jarring and unsubtle, the acting is truly horrible, the foley (sound effects) is jacked up to 11, every swish of the arm sounds like a jet aircraft going past, and the aforementioned plot is laughable at best. But then isn’t that exactly what you want from a 70’s Kung Fu flick? I know I do.
Bruce Li plays the part of Lee with a smug arrogance that makes him fairly unlikable for the most part. In the opening scenes he moves from China to Washington and instantly becomes the most popular guy in town. He then saves an old guy from two unbelievably 70’s black guys which gets him in trouble with the local Karate teacher (“Karate is superior to Kung Fu!”). Lee sets him straight by beating him up.
Then the movie pretty much carries on in that vein. People challenge Lee, Lee beats them up. The absolute pinnacle being a scene where some road workers are assaulted by a bunch of English geezers, out on a run. The whole mob sound like they’ve been voiced by the cast of On The Buses, throwing insults at Lee like “You horrible little bleeder!”. One guy even yells “CHARGE!” as he runs, fists first, at Lee. It’s a truly wonderful scene.
On a genuinely positive note, the fight scenes work pretty well for the most part. Nothing compared to the hyper-choreographed fights of today’s cinema but they retain an honest realism. It’s also full of wonderful 70’s fashions and cheesy disco synth music. Even Lee gets in on the action!
So there you have it. I’ve seen in the new year with a film I genuinely enjoyed. Not for many of the right reasons, but still, I’ll take it over Dark Side of the Sun any day. HIIIIYYYAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!