I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

The Clones of Bruce Lee

tn_clonesofbruceleeTHE CLONES OF BRUCE LEE is based on the true story of actor and martial artist Bruce Lee (b. 1940) and his unexpected death in 1973. It does take some dramatic liberties, for example they say he died of a heart attack (in reality it was a brain problem, specifically a cerebral edema) and also an agency called the Special Bureau of Investigation takes blood samples from his body and uses it to make three clones of him and use them as secret agents (in real life they only made two, and one of them came out lumpy so they couldn’t use it).

The SBI plan is not flawless. For one thing, the clones don’t automatically know how to fight. Bolo Yeung has to train them. They never explain who Bolo is playing, so I gotta assume he’s playing himself, a former co-star of Bruce Lee, training the lab-grown cellular matter of his dead colleague. It makes you wonder, too – was Bolo a spy this whole time? Was he sizing up Bruce on the set of ENTER THE DRAGON? Did he consider Van Damme clone material when he was doing BLOODSPORT? Does he ever get jealous that he’s not the one they want to clone? I mean he seems worthy of cloning to me. There aren’t many guys like Bolo, other than that guy in DRUNKEN MASTER that I thought was Bolo but it turned out it was some other guy.

mp_clonesofbruceleeAnyway, if the clones can’t fight until you train them then what the fuck good is a Bruce Lee clone as a secret agent? Do they need his philosophy? His percussion playing? I don’t get it.

Maybe they have his muscle memory, maybe after a couple lessons with Bolo they’re fight-capable Bruce Lees. That does seem to be the case. But I notice that they don’t seem to fight light the original Bruce Lee. They don’t dance around like him, they do the type of gratuitous show-off moves he was against, they do styles he was never known for such as monkey kung fu. So I’m not sure if being clones of Bruce Lee has any use for them at all. They oughta send these clones back to Lee’s family for hilarious My Three Dads shenanigans, it seems like a better reason to bring the poor guy’s DNA back from the dead.

The clones are played by famed Bruce Lee imitators Dragon Lee (#1), Bruce Le (#2) and Bruce Lai (#3). (Bruce Li, considered the Bruce Lee of Bruce Lee imitators by some, is not in it.) When you see these three guys standing next to each other it’s more obvious than ever that they don’t really look that much like Bruce Lee. Because if they don’t look like each other then how could they all look like Bruce Lee? I never did figure out for sure but I assume we’re supposed to imagine they all are exact Bruce Lee duplicates.

But if so the first mission makes no sense at all. One of the Bruce Lees (Bruce Lee #1 I believe) is sent to bust a corrupt movie producer/gold smuggler by acting in his movie. You assume he gets the job so easy because he’s a clone of Bruce Lee, but nobody ever says, “Holy shit, this guy looks exactly like Bruce Lee!” or “Hey, I thought Bruce Lee was dead and also how did we get him in our shitty movie, you’d think he’d have better offers at this point in his career.” No, they just call him “the new kid” and then coincidentally decide that if he died he would become an icon, “like Bruce Lee.” So they start trying to kill him on camera (like GAME OF DEATH).

This whole section really makes no sense as a Bruce Lee clone story, so I wonder if this is actually a compilation movie made from a couple different fake Bruce Lee movies. But I can’t find any evidence to support that theory.

Bruce Lees #1-#2 get sent to meet up with an agency asset (Bruce Thai) who, although not a clone of Bruce Lee, looks as much like him as anybody else. And they all wear their Bruce Lee sunglasses and hairdos together while on a mission to stop a mad scientist. This is a better use of the clones concept because what good is one Bruce Lee clone? At best it’s exactly as good as one Bruce Lee. We’ve seen that in Bruce Lee movies. The important question that this movie must answer is how powerful are 2-3 Bruce Lees working side by side?

Well, they’re more powerful than bronze. The mad scientist has created some bronzemen, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you guy swhat a royal pain in the ass those fuckin bronzemen can be. Metal skin, going around punching people – it’s bullshit. Not trying to be racist, I’ve just had bad experiences with bronzemen, I guess. Well, because they’re made of bronze they’re hard to kick, but luckily theres’ this peasant lady that picked some poisonous grass and during a fight one of the Bruce Lees knocks over one of the bronzemen and it falls with its head right next to the poisonous grass so it starts eating it and dies. So the Bruce Lees fight the others and stuff grass in their mouths. Then there’s a whole thing about how the scientist who created the Bruce Lees doesn’t feel he gets enough credit so he makes them fight each other and some nurses have to destroy a magnet or something so they won’t be controlled by the mad scientist anymore and won’t have to do his mad bidding. They’ll be free citizens of the world who can choose for themselves which bidding to do.

This is one of those shitty kung fu movies that you can only find washed out, full frame, dubbed, on VHS or with 9 other movies in a cheap-ass DVD collection. And that’s where it belongs, to be frankly honest. But it’s too bad it’s not better, because it’s such a funny concept they could’ve done something more clever with it. Unfortunately that would require more care and thought than this particular director was willing to expend. A prolific Bruceploitator, Joseph Kong Hung also directed BRUCE’S DEADLY FINGERS, NINJA VS. BRUCE LEE, MY NAME CALLED BRUCE, BRUCE LEE IN NEW GUINEA and TREASURE OF BRUCE LEE.

I definitely think Bruce Lee clones could have alot more interesting adventures than this. They could attack the set of KUNG FU or the reshoots on GAME OF DEATH. They could bust Nixon. Rescue the hostages in Iran. Colonize the moon. Stop a series of shark attacks. Make contact with extra-terrestrial life. End the war. Travel back through time to kill Hitler.

I have long wished there was a Seattle-based blaxploitation picture called PURPLE DRAGON where Bruce Lee and Jimi Hendrix have to team up to catch Ted Bundy. But the timeline doesn’t really work out. The only time all three were in Seattle was in the mid ’60s, when Bundy was still a teenager. Jimi moved to New York in ’65, and Bruce was moving around between Seattle, Oakland and Hong Kong around the same time. You could always say they came back to visit or something, but Bundy’s murders didn’t really start until the ’70s after Jimi died. By cloning both Jimi and Bruce maybe this could work out as a ’70s period piece and get some more funk on the soundtrack.

You know there’s that cliche among movie aficionados, they always say they oughta remake the bad movies, not the good ones. If so I would like to request this one. There could be a whole James Bond type series with the different Bruce Lee clone agents going around saving the world and shit. Life by misadventure.

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In researching this review I found this awesome websight about Bruceploitation

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Friday, May 28th, 2010 at 12:09 pm and is filed under Martial Arts, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

33 Responses to “The Clones of Bruce Lee”

  1. Now, this is some top-form Vern! Endlessly quotable.
    Personally I saw only two Bruce Li productions – RETURN OF THE TIGER and FIST OF FURY PART 2. They both were excellent – maybe not great movies, but great kungfu movies.

  2. “You know there’s that cliche among movie aficionados, they always say they oughta remake the bad movies, not the good ones.”

    What? Has anybody else said this (other than me, on this very forum)? Are they quoting me, or am I subconsciously quoting them?

    Anyway, I agree with the sentiment in principle. The trouble is, it never seems to work out in practice. The remake of “My Bloody Valentine” is right up there on my “most hated films ever” list. It somehow manages to be even worse than the film it’s remaking, which is quite a feat. “Friday 13th” remake, same, except that the original’s scenes with Mrs Vorhees were actually pretty good. (So of course, they didn’t even include her in the remake for anything more than a very short cameo at the start.)

  3. Oh, and please let it be that Vern finally got himself account on Cinemageddon, the paradise for old-school genre movie lovers!

  4. Huh? The original MY BLOODY VALENTINE is a FUCKING EXCELLENT horror movie. The last act in the mines still gives me claustrophobia every time I watch it.

  5. Vern, thank you for finally speaking out against the Bronze Menace. Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are bronze, but the many extremist bronzemen out there give the whole bronzish community a bad name.

    Also, the original MY BLOODY VALENTINE is a pretty decent movie in my opinion. It’s got some great real-life locations and an authentic blue-collar atmosphere that proved impossible for the makers of the okay-at-best remake to recapture.

  6. Speaking of three not-quite-clones in a cheap derivative movie — Batman: Dead End.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hjp0I_okX0w

    I just found this on YouTube and wanted to share. It’s actually pretty good, all things considered.

    (At first it seems like a “Kick Ass” version of Batman, which makes sense for reasons that become apparent when watching, but then… well, I don’t want to spoil it. Try not to read too much about it if possible.)

  7. Yeah I think those guys should have directed those two movies instead of those two other guys.

  8. This reminds me of the episode of the orignal UK version of The Office where someone brings up the theory that Bruce faked his death to join the Chinese secret service:
    “Yeah, because if you’re going to make someone a secret agent in china, you use the world’s most recognisable asian”

  9. Darth Irritable

    May 28th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Maybe that dude who was training them was a lumpy clone of Bolo. Good enough to teach Bruce Lee 2.1,2.2,2.3 how to fight, but a little too lumpy to be released into the wild.

  10. How is it possible for anyone to be lumpier than Bolo? He looks like he’s got bowling balls sewn under his skin.

  11. If they grew the clones from fetus stage it would make sense that they’d all look slightly different. Life having its effect on physical development and whatever. If they just came prefab out of a cloning machine then it makes much less sense. Unless the machine is having a laugh.

  12. CrustaceanHate

    May 28th, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Wow, that Cinemaggedon site is awesome! Can anybody hook me up with an invite?

  13. Excellent. May I suggest a review of “Fist of Fear, Touch of Death,” an equally ludicrous Bruceploitation movie that actually sorta kinda has Bruce Lee footage?

  14. ““You know there’s that cliche among movie aficionados, they always say they oughta remake the bad movies, not the good ones.”

    What? Has anybody else said this (other than me, on this very forum)? Are they quoting me, or am I subconsciously quoting them?”

    People say it all the time. Film-buff types on blogs, anyway.

    Sorry, dude.

  15. I dunno about those Cinemageddon folks. I went looking for more info and found this discussion:

    http://www.avmaniacs.com/forums/showthread.php?t=43705

    Not that I have an opinion either way. I’d never heard of them ten minutes ago.

  16. Please email me at roachboygrr@hotmail.ru if you want an invite.
    This site changed my life, seriously. Were else in the world could you get all these giallo (gialli?) and all these spaghetti westerns, not to mention widescreen copies of rare Italian crime and non-Shaw-Brothers kungfu movies?

  17. darth_irritable

    May 29th, 2010 at 6:33 am

    Majestyk. Check Robert Z’Dar. No one is lumpier than that Guy. No one.

  18. So Vern, what’s with all the Bruce Lee love lately? Don’t get me wrong, they’re all fun, good reviews as always. Just curious.

  19. Kiaikick – Well, I watched WAY OF THE DRAGON, I think because I was gonna watch a couple Chuck Norris movies in honor of Actionfest. I liked it so much I decided to rewatch all the Bruce Lee movies, which I hadn’t done in a long time, and of course that inspired me to watch Dragon and this one. But that’s probly about the end of that series.

  20. Yes Vern , keep up the Bruce-Lee-related material , it’s great fun . I’m doing the same thing here : I’ve re-watched Game of Death ( and it still sucks even after all these years , except the Bruce scenes ) , then I’ve watched Ip Man yesterday and man was that good ! Tonight I will watch A Warrior’s Journey , and this is the only reason I’ve seen GoD a few days ago : for better comparison . If you want to see more bruceploitation , I highly recommend Game of Death 2 : Tower of Death , there’s a little Bruce footage , but the film is fucking awesome in its own right .

  21. Vern, I vote that you write PURPLE DRAGON. I’ll make you a deal. If you write that one, I’ll write the 70’s buddy picture I’ve always dreamed of, Brian De Palma and Alfred HItchcock teaming up to solve a murder. Deal?

  22. @ Frankbooth – Yay! I’m getting quoted on film blogs all the time!

    Vern – Done the same thing myself a few times. A Bruce Lee marathon is always good for when you don’t have the money to go out and party.

  23. Jareth Cutestory

    May 29th, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Gwai Lo: Trust the guy with the HAL avatar to come out in favor of machines having a laugh. It’s all fun and games until someone is blown out the airlock.

  24. No Jareth, it is still fun and games when someone is blow out of the airlock.

  25. Dan – that sounds like a good deal. I got too much shit on my to-do list but I will definitely consider writing PURPLE DRAGON someday (maybe as a novel). I think I’ll leave the clones out, though, and make it more of a Ted Bundy type killer in the way Dirty Harry had Scorpio but not the actual Zodiac. It should obviously be a fun movie and not have to bum you out with thinking of real life murders, and then I can cheat the timeline too.

    But if you feel like writing your buddy movie without waiting for me to start mine I would love to read it.

  26. Vern – you should try and reconstruct GAME OF DEATH’s original story in screenplay form and send that business to Robert Zemeckis to feed through his mocap machine. On a more serious note if you ever actually do write a script and need any technical help (proper script formatting etc. can be a bit daunting at first, and many execs/producers/etc. will not even read page one if you’ve made formatting “mistakes”) or just a pair of eyes to take a look at a draft I’d be glad to help out.

  27. daniel, you should definitely write that movie, if for no other reason than for the amusement of us total strangers on the internet.

    paul giamatti could play either hitchcock or de palma.

  28. It’d be funny is Vern completed his screenplay, sold it, and got it made only for it to be rewritten into some ultra gritty realistic serial killer movie. Bruce better not look in the box at the end.

  29. PURPLE DRAGON is a guaranteed recordbreaker. After all, it’s based on a true story.

  30. You should review My Name is Bruce before you close shop.

  31. Daniel Strange

    May 31st, 2010 at 1:49 am

    I agree with SofS that PURPLE DRAGON should have “Based on a True Story” slapped on it. Another good one which I plan to use for DE PALMA AND HITCH (if/when I ever write it) is the even more blatantly nonsensical “Inspired by True Events.” In my script’s case, the “true events” are that Brian De Palma and Alfred Hitchcock existed.

  32. bowling balls are dangerous on the foot if you mishandle it.’:-

  33. I hereby nominate the spambot above to be the most awesome this websight ever had! I mean, Elizabeth Taylor comes to a Bruce Lee (clone) related thread to warn us about the danger of bowling balls! The absurdity of that totally blows my mind!

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