1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Saturnome
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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#76 Post by Saturnome » Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:25 pm

There's appeal to Bruce Lee's films while none are really good. I like the fights, though they're not spectacular, they have weight and feel sastisfying to watch. Like everyone said, they're too few of them. Curiously of the Hong Kong films I like The Big Boss, which is the one people tend to like less, outside of the completed version of Game of Death. I can't say why other than the ice factory workers setting being neat... And some silliness going on here and there. The other ones got blurred together very fast in my head, I can't even say which one had Chuck Norris. The kind of films where you get why they were a big deal back then but that's it.

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#77 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:42 am

It is a fascinating group of films - I agree with Saturnome and like The Big Boss a lot too. The only 'issue' with that is that they were still assessing Bruce Lee's potential at that point so the rather dark and brutal story (in which the 'big boss' is getting rid of people stumbling on his drug business by cutting them up and freezing them in his ice house warehouse front business) feels rather different from anything Lee would go on to do in later films. Fist of Fury is the film that knows that Lee is a star by that point and gives him a heck of a lot to do, from arriving late to his mentor's funeral and trying to claw his way into the grave in the opening scene (until he gets knocked out with a blow from the gravedigger's shovel!), to infiltrating the rival school using various mild-mannered disguises! And that is the one which has the great period setting (during the Occupation of China by Japan) and some of the political commentary coming to the fore (such as in the scene where Lee is unable to go into a park because "No dogs or Chinese" are allowed in. And the Japanese rivalry that Finch notes features some rather broad stuff with the eminently punchable portrayal of the bureaucratic henchman of the rival karate school. Its not exactly subtle, but there is some meat in there beyond the fighting). But it is still a film where Lee is under the direction of others, so outside of the fight scenes that he is choreographing a lot of the rest of the film is shot in a rather traditional manner.

The Way of the Dragon is then the one where Lee gets to show his chops fully. It has an Italian setting with international actors, and here Lee is in full control of the narrative too and ties the action in with the dramatic scenes far more tightly than previously. Then with Enter The Dragon he is back under another director again in a star vehicle to break into the US market, so whilst he is able to show off his skills well, a lot of the surrounding action is pretty much standard almost by design, perhaps because the idea of a Chinese hero is a novel enough element in itself that it may have been felt that a more intricate storyline would be too much for audiences (it is perhaps telling that the Bond film from the year after, The Man With The Golden Gun, is pretty much a rip off of the premise! You can also feel its 'martial arts tournament held on a secret island' influence on the premise of the Mortal Kombat games and films). The unfinished footage of Game of Death suggests that Lee was going to be doing a film that would, like Sausage says about the Way of the Dragon, really express the adaptive philosophy of jeet kun do in the multiple fights up the pagoda against different styles of fighters that was going to form the climax of the film. But then of course he died and horribly ironically it all goes back to other people doing what they wish with the image and footage they have of Bruce Lee to embellish their otherwise rather standard film, as Robert Clouse comes back from Enter The Dragon to make the even more indebted feeling to Bond 1978 version of Game of Death (although the 1978 film is pretty much a travesty as a Bruce Lee film, it does have a lot of fight choreography from both Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao which, whilst not really being Bruce Lee-styled and almost accidentally emphasising what a unique talent Lee was, still leaves the film worthwhile in a general action sense). And then you have the wave of Bruce Lee imitator films, which do not even have that morally dubious justification of having previously unseen footage of Lee to use in their film.

(Incidentally as Mr Sausage has brought up the alternate title of Fist of Fury being known as The Chinese Connection (which would be a much more appropriate French Connection-esque title for the drug themed The Big Boss) that brings up the other titbit from the old Bey Logan commentary which was that when The Big Boss and Fist of Fury were getting released internationally - as The Chinese Connection and Fists of Fury - the titles on the cans apparently got swapped around by accident! So that is why you might occasionally see The Big Boss called Fists of Fury and Fist of Fury called The Chinese Connection, as they were not only retitled when internationally released but accidentally title swapped too! That only underlines just how tied together that these two films are however)
Finch wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 9:08 pm
Agree with the sentiment that Jackie Chan is more likeable and charismatic and made better films overall.
Yes, though I agree with Mr Sausage that Lee was trying to be more of intensely serious action star than an endearing comic figure. And also if the cruel curtailing of Lee's career was also applied to Jackie Chan then it would be as if we only had Jackie's early classics like The Young Master, Drunken Master and Snake In The Eagle's Shadow, then his role in Cannonball Run, but only partial footage of an unfinished Project A to judge him by!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Jul 08, 2020 1:04 am, edited 3 times in total.

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knives
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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#78 Post by knives » Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:46 pm

That would still be a pretty good run of films.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#79 Post by Mr Sausage » Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:52 pm

knives wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:46 pm
That would still be a pretty good run of films.
Pretty good for sure, but not representative of what we think of as Chan's signature style.

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#80 Post by yoloswegmaster » Sun Jun 28, 2020 9:27 am

Can anyone confirm that the Warner blu-ray for 'Enter the Dragon' is sourced from a 4K restoration? I saw someone claim it was on blu-ray.com forums but I can't seem to find any info that would back that claim up.

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#81 Post by cdnchris » Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:06 pm

If its the same as the HD DVD (which I assume is the case) then it's a shitty 4K restoration.

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#82 Post by Orlac » Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:32 pm

The 1978 GAME OF DEATH (which made me a Bruce Lee fan!) isn't a total write-off. It has one of John Barry's best post-60s scores,and the fight between Bob Wall and Kim Tai-Chung (the Bruce double) in a locker room is terrific.

Dean Jagger comes across as alarmingly senile - like Mr Burn being portrayed by Grampa Simpson!

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#83 Post by tenia » Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:44 pm

cdnchris wrote:If its the same as the HD DVD (which I assume is the case) then it's a shitty 4K restoration.
They re-did it in 2013. The 2007 BD is the same than the HD DVD though.

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#84 Post by Orlac » Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:48 am

colinr0380 wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:42 am

Finch wrote:
Fri Jun 26, 2020 9:08 pm
Agree with the sentiment that Jackie Chan is more likeable and charismatic and made better films overall.
Yes, though I agree with Mr Sausage that Lee was trying to be more of intensely serious action star than an endearing comic figure. And also if the cruel curtailing of Lee's career was also applied to Jackie Chan then it would be as if we only had Jackie's early classics like The Young Master, Drunken Master and Snake In The Eagle's Shadow, then his role in Cannonball Run, but only partial footage of an unfinished Project A to judge him by!
I guess Jackie's films for Lo Wei would be his Green Hornet, with Killer Meteors being the Batman crossover.

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#85 Post by J Wilson » Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:58 pm

On a side note, the recent Ip Man 4 features Bruce Lee as a supporting character, which seems fitting, as the rest of the movie was on the same subtlety level as something like Fist of Fury in its painting other nationalities as racists angle. The guy playing Lee was enjoyable in his one fight scene. Watch it on YouTube, don't bother with the actual movie (outside of the fight scenes).

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#86 Post by Orlac » Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:13 pm

I need to check out Ip Man 4 as they made some of it right here in Lancashire - using Preston Bus Station as Seattle Airport!

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#87 Post by TheRanchHand » Tue Jul 07, 2020 2:31 pm

I am very excited for this one! A bit of a grab bag as some elements are identical to some past purchases but a few of the films look to be upgraded nicely. And we are getting the great doc THE MAN, THE LEGEND which was rushed out within months after Lee's passing. Plus GAME OF DEATH 2 (unfortunately just an upres of the SD) but will lead the way nicely to the Michael Worth documentary and set coming out with Severin on Bruceploitation.

So odd in the bluray.com review on Fist of Fury it is said: "Fist of Fury was the second and last collaboration between director Lo Wei and Lee. The two parted ways after a series of much-publicized in the media disagreements (a few of which were directly related to the film's anti-Chinese content)" He must have meant anti-JAPANESE content as the film is undoubtedly pro-Chinese. Plus, Lee fell out with Lo Wei not over the film's story content but his working methods and Bruce of course just did not like the guy (read the newspaper reports of this just a couple weeks before he died). Anyway, think the reviewer was being a tad lazy with that aspect.

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#88 Post by Orlac » Tue Jul 07, 2020 3:02 pm

I've never seen anything to verify Lee was unhappy over Lo's treatment of the Japanese - which is practically PC compared to what Jimmy Wang Yu was doing at the same time.

What REALLY cheesed Lee off was Lo claiming he taught him how to fight convincingly!

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#89 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Jul 07, 2020 3:31 pm

The anti-Japanese sentiment in Fist of Fury is an interesting case. On the one hand, it’s racist since it paints the Japanese as scummy villains and backstabbers (tho’ without caricaturing then visually—no buck teeth and huge glasses). On the other, this is a post-colonial film. It’s a reaction of the colonized to their colonizers, a legitimate one, too, given the racism, exploitation, oppression, and even genocide the Chinese genuinely suffered from under the Japanese occupation. It’s a somewhat complicated case to navigate using western theories of racism.

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#90 Post by Orlac » Tue Jul 07, 2020 6:48 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 3:31 pm
The anti-Japanese sentiment in Fist of Fury is an interesting case. On the one hand, it’s racist since it paints the Japanese as scummy villains and backstabbers (tho’ without caricaturing then visually—no buck teeth and huge glasses). On the other, this is a post-colonial film. It’s a reaction of the colonized to their colonizers, a legitimate one, too, given the racism, exploitation, oppression, and even genocide the Chinese genuinely suffered from under the Japanese occupation. It’s a somewhat complicated case to navigate using western theories of racism.
The interesting thing about several Hong Kong movies of this era is that they reserve their real bile for the Chinese collaborators. Wei Ping-Ao in Fist of Fury (and Chan Wei-Lau in Fist of Fury II) play such characters and look like your stereotypical Japanese villians from a Hollywood WWII movie.

Lo Wei's follow-up New Fist of Fury is set in occupied Taiwan. It's a tedious slog of a film and takes for granted that the audience will hate the Japanese bad guy (Chen Sing) a good hour before he actually does anything evil

The films of Jimmy Wang Yu show an interesting progression - in The Chinese Boxer and One-Armed Boxer, the Japanese villians are played by Chinese actors in vampire make-up! But once he made A Man Called Tiger and Seaman No.7 in Japan, where he interacts with the locals and learns Karate, he does at least take the trouble in later films like Return of the Chinese Boxer to get the clothes right!

I read recently (but can't remember where!) that the revival in anti-Japanese sentiment in HK in the 70s was due to the Senkaku Islands dispute.

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#91 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:11 pm

You see how things had shifted by the 90s, with the remake giving Jet Li a Japanese girlfriend and taking a ‘the problem is a few bad apples who ruin our chances of peace and fellow feeling’ stance.

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#92 Post by Orlac » Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:41 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:11 pm
You see how things had shifted by the 90s, with the remake giving Jet Li a Japanese girlfriend and taking a ‘the problem is a few bad apples who ruin our chances of peace and fellow feeling’ stance.
It re-casts the Wei Ping-ao role as a sympathetic Japanese ambassador.

Heck, the way the film plays, you wonder how the Sino-Japanese war ever happened!

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#93 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Jul 15, 2020 11:36 pm

Enter the Dragon was a ton of fun despite its flaws (and sometimes because of them), which had me mumbling "lighten up!" to myself as I read through some of this thread.

Also, the restoration looked pretty terrific to my eye, though I wouldn't be considered a reliable source re: the original print on any level.

Can't wait to go through the rest of these!

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#94 Post by Nanoc » Thu Jul 16, 2020 4:45 pm

and the million dollar question... can anyone confirm yet if it was color corrected like the Shout Selects? This is whats going to make or break it for me

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#95 Post by cdnchris » Fri Jul 17, 2020 12:54 pm

I'll eat my words from my last comment a little bit: I haven't watched Game of Death yet, and still think Enter the Dragon is his best, but I found myself enjoying both The Big Boss and Fist of Fury more this time around, finding them both quite entertaining on their own levels. Way of the Dragon, despite having better fight scenes in comparison to the previous two films, is still pretty bad: it's plot is nonsensical, the humour never hits (for me anyways) and the final twist still makes zero sense
SpoilerShow
(Like, why the fuck doesn't he just sell to the gangsters??)
but those fight scenes, especially the Chuck Norris one, are still pretty solid and I'll revisit it for those.

I remember Game of Death being a hot mess so my expectations are still very low in my revisit.

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#96 Post by EddieLarkin » Fri Jul 17, 2020 6:11 pm

Nanoc wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 4:45 pm
and the million dollar question... can anyone confirm yet if it was color corrected like the Shout Selects? This is whats going to make or break it for me
They're all up at https://caps-a-holic.com/

All look better than the Shout Selects apart from Fist of Fury.

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#97 Post by Nanoc » Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:41 pm

EddieLarkin wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 6:11 pm
Nanoc wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 4:45 pm
and the million dollar question... can anyone confirm yet if it was color corrected like the Shout Selects? This is whats going to make or break it for me
They're all up at https://caps-a-holic.com/

All look better than the Shout Selects apart from Fist of Fury.
I have trouble working that site exactly. Instead of a side by side I take it , it shows the one over the other as an overlay I guess. Little confusing...

If it looks better, So is that a confirmation it was color corrected then?

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#98 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:01 pm

I watched Enter the Dragon and I'm good on any more, thanks. Followed it up with a revisit of A Fistful of Yen, the parody from Kentucky Fried Movie, and though you don't really need to get the specific references to enjoy it, it was fun to see where some of the gags originated, and it was a far better paced, acted, written, and directed film at 1/3 the running time.

My key takeaway from Enter the Dragon is that I don't find Bruce Lee charismatic in the slightest and indeed found him rather obnoxious. I didn't like anyone in this movie, to be fair, though I guess John Saxon is so inoffensively bland that he comes out on top as the guy who has $62 in his bank account in one scene and in the next is paying Bruce Lee $150 for a bet onboard a boat. That level of care and attention is everywhere here. At least Lee and Saxon register, which Jim Kelly's catatonic character does not. Imagine this role with any performer with even a modicum of energy and screen presence. You're gonna have to, because what we get is a cool cat god's gift to women as played by a guy so sexless that he wouldn't be able to talk his way into a stripper taking his singles. The fights are not that interesting and Lee's caterwauling got old reallllllllllll fast. Lee's father's confession before Lee leaves for the island is up there with "I got the results of the test back, I definitely have breast cancer," and speaking of dialogue, it's comforting to know that the ultimate level of fighting skill at your local holy temple can be achieved via answering a brief oral exam with well-practiced platitudes.

Enjoy your box set, everyone, the further riches of which will remain forever unexplored by me.

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#99 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Jul 17, 2020 11:24 pm

Growing up with a father obsessed with martial arts, I was raised on Jackie Chan primarily who I loved (and Steven Seagal who I didn't), but neither of us ever cared much for Bruce Lee's film work. I'm sure some will be appalled, but I actually really enjoy Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story as a biopic, and far more than any of his actual movies.

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Re: 1036 Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits

#100 Post by Orlac » Sat Jul 18, 2020 4:38 am

domino harvey wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:01 pm
I watched Enter the Dragon and I'm good on any more, thanks. Followed it up with a revisit of A Fistful of Yen, the parody from Kentucky Fried Movie, and though you don't really need to get the specific references to enjoy it, it was fun to see where some of the gags originated, and it was a far better paced, acted, written, and directed film at 1/3 the running time.

My key takeaway from Enter the Dragon is that I don't find Bruce Lee charismatic in the slightest and indeed found him rather obnoxious. I didn't like anyone in this movie, to be fair, though I guess John Saxon is so inoffensively bland that he comes out on top as the guy who has $62 in his bank account in one scene and in the next is paying Bruce Lee $150 for a bet onboard a boat. That level of care and attention is everywhere here. At least Lee and Saxon register, which Jim Kelly's catatonic character does not. Imagine this role with any performer with even a modicum of energy and screen presence. You're gonna have to, because what we get is a cool cat god's gift to women as played by a guy so sexless that he wouldn't be able to talk his way into a stripper taking his singles. The fights are not that interesting and Lee's caterwauling got old reallllllllllll fast. Lee's father's confession before Lee leaves for the island is up there with "I got the results of the test back, I definitely have breast cancer," and speaking of dialogue, it's comforting to know that the ultimate level of fighting skill at your local holy temple can be achieved via answering a brief oral exam with well-practiced platitudes.

Enjoy your box set, everyone, the further riches of which will remain forever unexplored by me.
Try Game of Death, just because of its outrageous badness!

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