The best of the Bruce Lee biographical films
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 10/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is generally considered to be the best bio-pic made of Bruce Lee's life, even though it does leave some gaps in the story. Often billed as a documentary, it is in fact a movie based on the biography of the man, and it takes the high road by trying to present Bruce Lee as he really was. The film opens with the ambulance transporting Bruce to the hospital, followed by a respectful look at his gravesite, and only then do we go back in time to trace the extraordinary life of this martial arts legend. Bruce Li plays the part of the Dragon, and I was definitely most impressed by his performance. The first few Bruce Li films I watched, I couldn't understand why this man is generally considered to be the best of the Bruce Lee imitators. He impressed me in Chinese Connection 2, but Li is on top of his game in Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth; his resemblance in both look and form to Bruce Lee is much more polished here than in Li's other films. We follow Bruce Lee from Hong Kong to Seattle, Washington, where he teaches the martial arts to those wanting to learn, having by now gone a long way toward establishing his own special Jeet Kune Do style. From here it is on to San Francisco and then Los Angeles, by which time he has landed the role of Kato in The Green Hornet. Eventually, the reluctance of Hollywood to build a movie around a relatively unknown Asian fighter leads him to return to Hong Kong to make a name for himself there. This film features a very nice reproduction of one scene from Bruce's first big movie, The Big Boss (aka Fists of Fury in the US). After a couple of Hong Kong successes, he makes his successful return to America to begin the film career he had dreamed about. He found early work behind the scenes of several movies, including one filmed in Rome which is reproduced faithfully on location in this bio-pic. The rest of his movie career is zipped through rather quickly, setting the stage for the inevitable and tragic death of this man whose legend will never fade away. The one major issue I have with the film concerns Bruce's wife and children. There are no references to his getting married or becoming a father; the wife and kids just turn up out of the blue one night to tell him goodnight. There are a number of good fight scenes in this film, largely due to the fact that Bruce Lee was constantly accosted and challenged by tough guys, martial arts "experts," and practitioners of any number of fighting disciplines wherever he went: on the street, at the airport, even on the sets of his movies. Bruce also had to endure a great deal of prejudice against his Chinese ethnicity. Heaven help anyone who put down kung fu, such as a fair number of karate experts and a number of proud Thai boxers. You would think only the most foolhardy of folks would dare challenge Lee to a fight, but there are a lot of really dumb men in the world who were taught a hard lesson by Bruce Lee. This film does a good job of showing just how hard Bruce Lee worked and trained, featuring shots of Bruce working with his own special proto-computer type training station and zapping himself with electricity in order to become ever stronger. Watching Bruce Li endure the pain of such unorthodox training leaves an indelible memory on the viewer's mind. The ending is quite interesting. We first see Bruce assaulted by a tremendous headache during one of his workouts (and he amazingly blocks out the pain and continues working), and in the end we see another headache hit while he is discussing his new movie with Betty Ting Pei at her apartment, after which he takes the medicine Betty gives him and lies down, never to awake. There are no innuendoes at all cast on this presentation of events. Then, almost after the fact, a narrator mentions the rumors and mystery of Bruce's death, and we are shown two scenarios popular at the time, especially in Hong Kong- in one, we see him beaten up by some well-armed thugs, and in the next we are presented with the idea that he, in order to avoid the death a wise man had predicted would strike at age 33 (actually, the movie gets Bruce's age at the time of his death wrong, saying he was 35), faked his death and would remain in isolation for ten years. I really had not heard this rumor before; at the time this film was made, though, apparently some people waited hopefully for Bruce to return in 1983. Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth really is the best of the Bruce Lee bio-pics available, despite the fact it was released back in 1976. Bruce Li gives the finest performance of his career, and the movie strikes a respectful tone that fittingly acknowledges both the mythic qualities of Bruce Lee as well as the human side of the man. Bruce Lee was, after all, just a man (albeit an extraordinary one), and it is important to remember and celebrate his life rather than get completely caught up in the mythology surrounding his achievements and mysterious death."
Cheesy Movie, Bad Picture Quality, Very Good Extras
J. Pinkerton Snoopington | Toronto, Ontario, Canada | 12/28/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Bruce Lee: True Story" (commonly known in the west as "Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth") was arguably the best and probably the most successful of the Bruce Lee exploitation films of the 70s. It's still pretty cheesy, though. Bruce Li stars as Lee in this heavily fictionalized biopic that covers his early days in Seattle, his big break in the film industry, the many people who supposedly challenged him to a fight, and his death (amusingly, several alternate deaths are provided at the end). Most of this is made up and the movie itself is kinda shameless, but it's more respectful than some of the other Bruce biopics and it was actually filmed all around the world (Hong Kong, Rome, USA).
Being a VideAsia disc, the picture quality is horrible. The use of the title "Bruce Lee True Story" indicates that a subtitled Chinese print would be used, but it's merely a USA "The Man, The Myth" print seemingly mastered from a videotape (the dubbing does admittedly give the film a goofy charm). It's heavily faded with many scratchy sections. The image is pan and scan, heavily cropped from its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, making the already sub-par fight scenes worse.
The area that this disc truly excells in is extras. First, their are two audio commentaries. The film focuses more on Bruce Lee (with Joe Lewis, Joe Hyams, Davis Miller and George Tan) and the second on the film (George Tan and Davis Miller, again). I only listened to a portion of the first commentary, which has poor sound quality and isn't very interesting. The second commentary (which can only be accessed using the DVD Audio button), which also hard to hear, is actually very good, and well worth a listen to.
"The Bruce Lee Stories" includes clips from various Bruceploitation films with commentary to disect the various factual errors in them. Though short, it's very funny. Bruceploitation fans will also enjoy an interview with Bruce Li. While hardly touching on "Bruce Lee: True Story" and obviously filmed for something else, Li does talk about his career and other roles, which is interesting. Another interview, with director Ng See Yuen, doesn't mention "Bruce Lee: True Story" at all.
For Bruce Lee fans, there are two documentaries about his martial arts by two of his students (one of them being Joe Lewis). Extras are rounded out by and American trailer, TV Spots, and a strange feature called "InstaAction" that jumps right to the action scenes, skipping all that pesky plot that keeps getting in the way during the movie."
A superb DVD set!
nicknamefree | brooklyn, n.y. United States | 09/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is the best of all Bruce Lee bio-films by far. The title is truthful since it has the man and his myth included( although the original title is Bruce Lee-True Story,which is highly misleading).Production value is top flight,with many locations from around the world,including Rome and the U.S.A..Plenty of action,and the script is far better than Dragon the Bruce Lee Story.In fact,it looks like the producers of that film used whole scenes from this film to fill up their official bio-film.The extras are what makes this a superb DVD.There is a great audio commentary with many people talking about Bruce Lee. Great dialogue and information.There was supposed to be a second commentary,but I could not find it.Two Jeet Kune Do features are included.The first is by Karate Master Joe Lewis,a student of Bruce Lee.Here he clearly and simply explains what the art of Jeet Kune Do is about. He demonstrates and explains what Lee taught him. Excellent work.
The second piece has Tommy Crothers showing off what the correct use of Jeet Kune Do can do.It is narrated by Jesse R. Glover,Lee's first student.Audio is hard to make out though. But this man is lethal,and confirms Bruce Lee was a martial arts genius.There are also interviews with Bruce Li himself and the author of Dragon the Bruce Lee Story.A feature on the history of the Bruce Lee Exploitation films is presented.It's quite funny in how errors and outright falsehoods have been presented over the years in these exploitation films.Bruce Li goes on record to state that he personally hated these films ,but did his best to honor Bruce Lee by giving the best performance he was allowed.Other extras like trailers and original television spots round off this jam packed DVD.There was a lot of care put into this DVD.More than the film is worth actually.But I for one am glad the effort. A great addition to a martial arts collection.For real Bruce Lee,check out Death by Misadventure,The Young Bruce Lee,Fist Of Unicorn and of course the original Bruce Lee classics"