Blu-Ray Review: I Am Bruce Lee

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MSRP $26.97
STUDIO Shout! Factory
RUNNING TIME 94 minutes
• Backyard Training (SD, 12 minutes)
• Bruce Lee’s Hollywood Audition (SD, 9 minutes)
• Bruce Lee in Action (HD, 5 minutes)
• Inspiration: Bruce Lee’s Global Impact (HD, 3 minutes)
• Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 minutes)

The Pitch

I Am Bruce Lee is the amazing story of one of the greatest icons ever to enter the public consciousness, the first film to truly tell Bruce Lee’s story in his own words and actions, as well as through the eyes of the international stars from the worlds of film, television, music and sports.
Featuring original interviews with UFC President Dana White, NBA Superstar Kobe Bryant, boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, actor Mickey Rourke, The Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo, legendary martial artists Dan Inosanto, Richard Bustillo, Bob Wall (Enter the Dragon) and Gene LeBell, and unprecedented conversations with Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee and his wife Linda Lee Cadwell, plus the best of Bruce Lee’s ground-breaking martial arts action films and rare archival footage, I Am Bruce Lee is the definitive story of a man whose legacy will endure forever.

The Humans

Bruce Lee

The Nutshell

An in-depth look at martial arts’ greatest icon.

The Lowdown

Everyone knows Bruce Lee. You don’t have to be a martial arts fan or movie junkie to recognize his truly iconic image. When asked exactly what they know about him, most people would cite his most popular movies or maybe even his stint as Kato on the Green Hornet TV series. Interestingly enough, I Am Bruce Lee is a film that barely mentions this part of Lee’s career. Instead it focuses on his beginnings, his philosophy, his teachings and his widespread influence. The use of celebrities influenced by him as narrators and very rare video footage of his past to tell the lesser known parts of Lee’s story make I Am Bruce Lee a truly awesome documentary.

The documentary begins with Lee’s closet living family members, daughter Shannon Lee and wife Linda Lee-Cadwell recounting his early years as a child actor in Hong Kong. They are very engaging and give interesting behind the scenes testimonials of what it was like to be close to Bruce in the height of his popularity. This is the first time I have ever heard of him being regarded as possibly the first male Asian sex symbol in the U.S.. Several times in the documentary, his widow and daughter mention the fact that  members of the media used the phrase “Bruce Lee gave Chinese men balls”, meaning that he made them more masculine and desirable to the public’s eye after his successes. The ladies also take time and discuss many of Lee’s philosophical beliefs in regards to life, training and spirituality. These more obscure gems set the stage well for what this film has to offer.

Bruce Lee’s life before his action films is nothing short of legendary. Tales of his exploits include starring in over twenty films as a child actor and winning a Hong Kong Cha-Cha championship in 1957. During his years as a martial arts instructor, he defeated a rival Kung Fu teacher in a fight, in order to gain the right to teach to non chinese students. The story goes on to say that he defeated the master in three minutes and was disappointed that it took so long. This is what led Lee to adapt his style into a western boxing/Kung-fu hybrid fighting style of his own. Many believe this to be the true birth of MMA. The documentary is packed with amazing stories like these and are given a little extra oomph as they are told by prominent celebrities that consider Bruce to be a great inspiration or influence on their careers. The names range from sports personalities like Koby Bryant, Dana White, and Gina Carano to Hollywood and TV stars like Mickey Rourke and Ed O’Neill.


One very enjoyable segment of the documentary is focused on Lee’s discovery and subsequent debut in U.S. theaters. This section includes footage of Lee’s first screen test in the states after displaying his martial arts prowess at the Long Beach National Karate Championships of 1964.  First off, the video of the actual demonstration is unbelievable in itself. There are shots of Bruce performing a “six inch punch” where he knocks a man back into a chair without moving his fist more than six inches. He also partakes in “one thumb push ups” which truly have to be seen to be believed. It’s apparent here that he has the charisma, the looks and the moves to be a big star. As for the screen test, he answers some basic question for the camera before showing off some kicks and other moves. This may sound underwhelming, but consider the fact that he does this with ease in very close quarters while wearing a three piece suit.

I Am Bruce Lee culminates by documenting the films that made Lee most famous like The Big Boss, Way of the Dragon, Fist of Fury and his world wide blockbuster, Enter The Dragon. Lee’s untimely death is also discussed here, but it’s evident that the topic was not meant to be the focus of the film. I enjoyed learning more information about his influential and amazing life rather than too many details of his death. I highly recommend this documentary


The Package

There are some really great special features packed onto this disc, but Backyard Training is the gem of the bunch.  This extra contains footage of Lee training different Hollywood stars in his backyard.  Priceless stuff, a must see.  Bruce Lee in Action is just that. A “greatest hits” montage of all his best fight scenes.  If this feature doesn’t make you want to see all of his films in full, nothing will.  I also enjoyed the extended Hollywood screen test footage and Inspiration, which delves a little further into his philosophies and teachings. Overall, a very nice set of special features.


Out of a Possible 5 Stars

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