Directed by – Rob Cohen
Written by – Robert Clouse, Linda Lee Cadwell, Edward Khmara, John Raffo, Rob Cohen
Starring – Jason Scott Lee, Lauren Holly, Robert Wagner, Michael Learned, Nancy Kwan, Kay Tong Lim, Ric Young, Luoyong Wang, Sterling Macer Jr., Sven-Ole Thorsen, John Cheung, Ong Soo Han, Eric Bruskotter, Iain M. Parker, Michelle Tennant, Alicia Tao, Kong Kwok Keung, John Lacy, Harry Stanback, Michael Cudlitz, Forry Smith
This one was a special request from my friend who couldn’t find this movie anywhere. Leave it to the obsessive movie guy to seek it out and add it to his collection. I don’t really mind though because I really enjoyed this movie. I had seen it many years ago but with my friend being the Bruce Lee nut that he is we at least learned what was truth and what was ‘movie truth’ in this one. That was the biggest disappointment for this film. All the liberties it takes with the life of Bruce Lee so we can have a slightly more entertaining movie only ended up taking away from the experience of this one for me.
It is a great movie and I’m sure that many people would enjoy it less if Bruce Lee wasn’t kicking the crap out of anyone that crossed him. I’m a big fan of biographies though, and it wouldn’t bother me in the least if the film had been slower or had less action in it. The life of Bruce Lee still would have been an entertaining affair. I will sadly admit that I have never seen one Bruce Lee movie, they’ve never really been my style of flick, but the story of his life was inspiring at moments. It’s sad to think of some of the tragedy his family has been through with both his and Brandon Lee’s death at such young ages.
The movie follows Bruce Lee as he moves to America from Hong Kong to escape arrest by the police for getting in one too many fights as well as his fathers belief that the demons are out to get him. We watch as he tries to make ends meet in America, falls in love, is faced with racism and eventually becomes the accomplished actor and martial artist that we all know today. It’s a roller coaster ride filled with touching and funny moments as well as plenty of fight scenes. Of course, most of the fight scenes never actually took place in real life but it adds to the excitement of the film.
Jason Scott Lee does a great job in his role. He displays a passion and a charm which work well. While you know the end result of all his accomplishments, I was still rooting for him to make it. I knew he would make it but a good performance still has me on the edge of my seat waiting to see if he can overcome the obstacles set in front of him. Obviously racism plays a rather large part in the film but it’s not just from the white people in America. When he begins teaching anyone who wants to learn about martial arts, the other schools in the area take it upon themselves to tell him to stop. They don’t want him teaching other races their ancient arts and tell him that he must stop. He doesn’t listen and this leads to a very large part of the film which never really happened. This is probably where the most inspiring and dramatic parts are and while it’s a large jump from the reality of Bruce Lee’s life, it’s a welcome addition to the film
Even though the story takes major breaks from the actual life of Bruce Lee and will probably drive Bruce Lee fans nuts, it makes it an enjoyable film for everyone to watch. For someone like me with no real knowledge on Bruce Lee it helps to build an interesting film. It looks great and has a few beautiful shots in it as well as Jason Scott Lee’s nearly perfect impression of Bruce Lee. He’s got his mannerisms and style down and it helps to bring the character to life. A strong performance by Lauren Holly as Linda Lee helps as well. She must face almost as much racism as Bruce does but she always stands by him and pushes him to become something better.
It may not be a completely accurate portrayal but it’s a great movie. It’s got it all. Action, comedy and drama all brought together for an enjoyable experience. If you can get around the liberties taken with the true life story then you’ll find a very fun and moving film.
Under the marquee – Will