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

Posts Tagged ‘Bruceploitation’

Birth of the Dragon

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

BIRTH OF THE DRAGON is now on video. A very fictionalized riff on the legendary challenge fight between two early ’60s Bay Area martial artists named Wong Jack Man and Bruce Lee, it was not exactly welcomed to screens with open arms. Shannon Lee and the Bruce Lee estate (who are currently developing an official Lee movie) did not approve, white director George Nolfi (THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU) was viewed by most with an understandable raised eyebrow, and an early trailer showing not-in-the-finished-movie first person narration by a white character caused widespread derision (including by me).

But look, I’m fascinated by Bruce Lee, the man and the myth, and by this event in particular. If there’s gonna be a movie about it, no matter how possibly misguided, but especially if produced by the prestigious WWE Films and Blumhouse (whuh?), of course I’m gonna watch it. So I did. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

Game of Death II

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

tn_godiibruceleeiconGAME OF DEATH II is a weird proposition. How the hell do you make a sequel to Bruce Lee’s unfinished final movie and pretend he’s still the star? It’s like if they tried to figure out how to keep Paul Walker in FURIOUS 8. It’s a little different because some of the best fights Lee ever shot were for GAME OF DEATH and they didn’t bother to use all the footage in the first one. But I guess they thought it would be cheating to use that stuff. Instead they took a bunch of his closeups from ENTER THE DRAGON and cut them into scenes of a lookalike always shown either from the back or at a distance. Lee’s character Billy Lo is worried about his brother being too into sex and not enough into practicing kung fu. He finds his kama sutra and leaves him a letter and a Jeet Kun Do manual to counter its harmful influence.

Also Billy talks to his master, who tells stories about his youth, illustrated with clips from Chinese movies Lee made at 6 and 15. Instead of letting you figure it out (like Soderbergh using clips from POOR COW as flashbacks in THE LIMEY) they use onscreen text to tell you, breaking any illusion that this is the character Billy Lo, famous movie star who faked his death. In the younger one he’s picking on an old man, headbutting him in the gut, pointing a gun at him and saying he’s gonna kill him. Weird. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

The Death of Bruce Lee

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

tn_deathofbruceleeIt would be cool if Ron Van Clief was to Lee Van Clief as Bruce Li was to Bruce Lee, but actually he’s just another martial artist who capitalized on the success of ENTER THE DRAGON by starring in a bunch of low budget non-period-piece kung fu movies. The unique thing is that Van Clief wasn’t a Bruce Lee clone, he was more following in the footsteps of Jim Kelly.

(Now where’s the guy who got a bunch of movies ’cause he looked like John Saxon?)

Like Bruce Lee’s greatest victim, Chuck Norris, Van Clief had made his name in competitive martial arts and ran many schools before finding his way into movies. The year after ENTER THE DRAGON he starred in his first movie, and it was called BLACK DRAGON. It’s a nice idea because even if we still had the original Dragon we still might enjoy experiencing a Black Dragon. So he doesn’t so much have to pass as a worthy replacement. It’s a different thing. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

Chinese Gods (Bruce Lee in Animation)

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

tn_chinesegodsSpeaking of weird animated martial arts videos, this week for my column on Daily Grindhouse I investigated a weird VHS tape I found of a 1976 animated movie purported to have Bruce Lee in it. Or a cartoon of him. It’s called CHINESE GODS, aka THE STORY OF THE CHINESE GODS. Bruce has a third eye and he fights a nine-tailed fox lady and that sort of thing. You know how it is.

CHINESE GODS on Daily Grindhouse

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.

The Clones of Bruce Lee

Friday, May 28th, 2010

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. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave

Monday, January 1st, 2001

I’m very confused by this movie. I thought it was directed by Umberto Lenzi (CANNIBAL FEROX), but IMDB says some guy named Doo-yong Lee. I don’t know what the deal with that is, and the movie itself is even more confusing.

I gotta admit though it was worth it for the opening 15-20 seconds. The picture starts out one day at the grave of Bruce Lee. (Actually it is clearly not the real grave of Bruce Lee here in Seattle, but hey man, movie magic.) Anyway all the sudden there is stock footage of lightning in the night sky. Then some guy who you gotta assume is Bruce Lee hops out of the dirt, and the title goes on the screen and the badass ’70s music starts playing. Then they even show the ridiculous painted cover to the video, which shows Bruce Lee coming out of his grave and a weird demon flying above him. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.