The Real Bruce Lee (1973)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 23-Mar-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 100:13 (Case: 108)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jim Markovic
Studio
Distributor

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Lerry Dolchin
Bruce Lee
Dragon Lee
Bruce Li
Case ?
RPI $14.90 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, including a ten year old Bruce Lee!
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Bruce Lee was an internationally renowned martial artist and movie star who died young in 1973 at the age of 32. Following his death, numerous impersonators and look-a-likes (with surprisingly similar names) started making low budget kung-fu films. Also, many documentaries were produced about his life to try to exploit his global renown. This disc tries to cover both of these dubious genres.

    The Real Bruce Lee is a strange mixture of a documentary and seemingly an entire feature film without the credits by a Bruce Lee imitator, Dragon Lee. This program was made in 1973, I would guess for television.

    The first half hour is (slightly surprisingly) actually about Bruce Lee and features approximately 20 minutes of footage of him from four films he made as a child actor in Hong Kong during the first period he lived there, up until 1958. These are straight acting roles, not martial arts. The films are Kid Cheung, The Bad Boy, Carnival & Orphan Sam. They would only be of interest to a Bruce Lee completist. The documentary section also briefly covers the rest of his career mostly with movie posters and voice-over.

    The next 6 or 7 minutes covers one particular Bruce Lee look-a-like, Bruce Li and has some short action scenes.

    The rest of the program seems to be a feature film by Dragon Lee inserted without a title or credits. In the grand tradition of Hong Kong kung-fu films of the seventies, it features lots of fights, cheesy stunts and terrible dubbing. Watch out for such highlights as death by pot plant, the extendable 3 metre sword, the deadly pot lids and my personal favourite, the rock on a string. The plot of the movie seems very similar to an actual Bruce Lee film, The Chinese Connection, focusing on the rivalry between a Chinese fighting school and a Japanese one. Dragon is not a bad martial artist, but obviously not in the same class as Bruce Lee. The film itself is quite enjoyable, if you like these films (like I do). It's a bit of a guilty pleasure - you know it's bad, but you still enjoy it.

    If you like kung-fu films of the period this might be worth a look but please read the transfer quality sections before deciding.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is absolutely terrible. It seems to have been taken straight of an old VHS tape and has every artefact known to man with the possible exception of MPEG artefacts.

    The feature is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, pan and scan. This is proudly advertised on the back of the case. In some cases the pan and scan job is diabolical, especially for the early Bruce Lee films. We seem to have been treated to only part of the frame here, not only horizontally as you might expect but vertically as well. For a lot of characters, we don't get to see their heads. The pan & scan job is better on the Dragon Lee feature film but it is still pan & scan, so one fighter often disappears off the side of the screen.

    The picture was fuzzy throughout, with incredible amounts of grain. Shadow detail was poor.

    The colour was poor in the coloured section. The early Bruce Lee films have a sepia tint, so are black & sepia rather than black & white. The colour in the other sections is washed out.

    From an artefacts perspective, we have too many film artefacts to mention; blobs, lines, specks, the lot. There are also many tape tracking artefacts which occur throughout the program. Additionally, the film jumps regularly and at one point the whole screen goes black in the middle of a scene. I did not notice any MPEG artefacts so a reasonable job seems to have been done of the actual transfer - the material was just crappy to begin with.

    There are no subtitles.

    There is no layer change as this is a single layered disc.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is poor.

    This DVD contains one audio option, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s. Despite the encoding this soundtrack is in glorious mono.

    Dialogue was unclear except for the voice-over which was reasonable. The dubbing was bad as you would expect and from time to time I wondered whether the people doing the English voiceover could actually speak English.    

    There were lots of problems with audio sync as the film was obviously dubbed.    

    The music was muffled and regularly distorted, probably due to poor source material.    

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.    

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There were no extras.

Menu

    The menu was static and had no music. It allowed for scene selection.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There seem to be a number of versions of this disc available in Region 1, all fairly similar. Some of them seem to include trivia quizzes and biographies. I cannot find any reviews, so you may as well stick with the Region 4 version which is available at a budget price.

Summary

    This disc is a mixture of Bruce Lee documentary and a feature film by Dragon Lee which is strangely enjoyable.

    The video quality is diabolical.

    The audio quality is poor.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, May 21, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE