Bruce Lee - The Legend Cover If I told you I actually knew who Bruce Lee was: would you think that I was pulling your leg, or trying to subliminally coerce you into thinking that I know something you don't? Huh? What was that? You're telling to 'shut the f*ck up' and just get on with telling you about this vintage 90 minute documentary made in 1977? OK then, I will. You spoil sport.

Bruce Lee - The Legend

In rather bold fashion, narrator, James B. Nicholson, does his best to orate the life and times of international action legend, Bruce Lee, in this 90 minute featured presentation. Now to complement James' structured chronology, on show their are a number of archived video clips, stock images, and notable appearances by the following people: Linda Lee Cadwell, Jackie Chan, Raymond Chow, Robert Clouse, James Coburn, George Lazenby, Steve McQueen, Nora Miao, Hugh O'Brian, Kien Shih, Hon Sang Siu, Betty Ting Pei, Robert Wall, Margaret Walter, and Gig Young.

What now follows is a basic break-down of how this program plays out:

  • When and where was Bruce Lee born?   On the 27th of November, 1940, in a Chinese Hospital situated in San Francisco, America.
  • Why was he born in America when Bruce's origins were Chinese; specifically Shunde, Guangdong?   Bruce's parents -- Lee Hoi-chen and Grace Ho -- were prolific performers in a travelling Peking Opera company. And they were passing San Francisco at the time Bruce wanted to show his face to the world.
  • Did Bruce have a good time growing up in Hong Kong?   Kind of. It was very 'alternate' to say the least. He became a child actor thanks to his Father's contacts, and starred in twenty juvenile roles. And even if he wasn't very good at school, he was very good at dancing and fighting.
  • What was his preferred style of martial art?   Although Bruce was trained in the art of Wing Chun by his teacher -- Yip Man -- over time, he himself decided to abolish 'systems of styles', and devised 'Jeet Kune Do' -- The Way of the Intercepting Fist -- once he eventually set-up a school back in America.
  • Why did Bruce go back to America? Two reasons really. Firstly, to get away from some trouble he was having in Hong Kong at the time -- i.e. his profuse street fighting. And secondly, to study philosophy at University, which inadvertently led him to teach Jeet Kune Do and star in a number of television roles -- most notably: 'The Green Hornet' and 'Longstreet' TV series.
  • Who is Linda Emery?   Linda is Bruce's wife. They married in 1964 and had two children together -- Brandon (1965) and Shannon (1969).
  • Who is Raymond Chow?   Once Bruce returned to Hong Kong following his brief acting career in America, Raymond was the film producer who managed to coax Bruce into making some more movies over there. Such as 'The Big Boss', 'Fist of Fury', and 'Way of the Dragon'.
  • Did Bruce bring any of his own personality to these flicks?   Yes. Yes he did. He always played characters that were 'fish out of water' archetypes who fought against 'foreign oppressors'. Plus he emphasized certain fighting techniques during his action scenes, as well as behaved as he normally would in certain social situations too.
  • But wait a minute! Didn't Bruce make more films than this?   Correct. Whilst in Nepal with James Coburn scouting for locations on a project they were both devising -- called 'The Silent Flute' -- Bruce was inspired to make another movie called 'The Game of Death' due to the Pagoda's he saw in this lo-cal. However, whilst he was in the process of making this subsequent movie, America came a calling, and though and behold 'Enter the Dragon' became his next top priority.
  • So did Bruce ever get to finish making the 'Game of Death'? No. Unfortunately not. When he went back to Hong Kong to complete this film, Bruce died in an apartment belonging to Taiwanese actress, Betty Ting Pei, because of a head-ache tablet she gave him, that he asked for. The autopsy defined Bruce's demise as 'Death by Misadventure'.
  • What happened after that? The burial. The mourning. The controversy. The Bruce-exploitation movies. And the completion of his final film.

A legend lives on...

Now like some of you out there in cyberspace, I was first introduced to Bruce Lee in my very informative years. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was at home sitting in front of the television set, and in came my Dad with a brand new Video player and a couple of cassettes he swiped from his dodgy pal, Kamil, wedged under his arm. Straight away we had to set it up. We just had too. So I could see one of these cassettes called 'The Big Bus'.

Well, I thought it was called 'The Big Bus'. I was very young at the time you see. And my reading wasn't all that proficient. So how the hell was I supposed to know that 'The Big Bus' was in fact 'The Big Boss'? (Click here for my review). Or that this martial arts movie would get me so perplexed once I finally sat down and watched it, that I became infatuated with it over the next couple of days?

No! This didn't have anything to do with the bad dubbing or the rather simplistic story-line. And no! It did not have anything to do with Bruce's fighting either.

Err? Not directly anyway.

 Bruce Lee Cool Bruce Lee Dizzy Bruce Lee Warrior

You see, in laymen's terms, I just couldn't understand why Bruce's character had to hold himself back because of that stupid pendent he wore around his neck, associated with some duty bound obligation bestowed upon him. I could not get my head around this principle! I was confused! If I could do some of the stuff Bruce did in that movie, I'd be jumping around like a lunatic kicking the crap out of 'whatever' because I could.

Then one day it stuck me. BOING! This 'filmic device' is what made the film work in the first place, right? Whilst defining what Bruce's character was like as a human being at the same time. He was controlled. He was well disciplined. And he was an honorable person who wanted to do the honorable thing. 

Granted, I only realized this fact after watching an episode of 'Sesame Street' -- but that's another story -- just like 'Bruce Lee, The Legend' is 'another story' where his life is concerned. 

Bruce Lee Think

Yeah. Let me tell you a bit about this 'feature' now. Listen, I mean this with all due respect, because in all honestly I feel that this documentary is a very good piece of work. It's well structured. It has some great pieces of lengthy archival footage in it. Plus all in all the complete package is fairly competent for someone who does not know very much about Bruce Lee.

For example, I did like Nora Miao and Raymond Chow's pieces' to the camera -- they were very revealing I thought. Plus this is the first time I've ever seen Bruce's 'American funeral' too -- that was a very nice yet morbid surprise. Also, I did enjoy the section that compared Bruce to his films -- that was a great addition in hindsight. As for the rest of it though -- well -- I'm afraid to say that I've seen it all before.

Bruce Lee Action
However, what you have to take into consideration when I say this, is that I have watched a lot of Bruce Lee documentary's and specials in my time (click here for an example). So if I watched this piece before I watched the others, then this statement would most probably be invalid. Therefore, ignore me, OK? Most people do anyway. Be like Bruce. Honorable. Dedicated. Righteous. And an inspiration that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Bless you buddy Bruce. You're always alive in my eyes. As you were in this program.


BRUCE LEE, THE LEGEND BRUCE LEE, THE LEGEND Reviewed by David Andrews on December 31, 2012 Rating: 5
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