Directed by David Gregory


Who is Bruce Lee?  After first seen as the side-kick of THE GREEN HORNET, Bruce Lee rose to fame as fast as his unexpected death in 1974 due to a brain disease.  Born in San Francisco but thought by most to be Asian born and bred, Lee starred as the lead in the game-changer film for Golden Harvest Studios’ THE BIG BOSS before making other blockbuster box-office  Hong Kong hits like FIST OF FURY, WAY OF THE DRAGON and ENTER THE DRAGON before tragedy stuck.  At his death, many fans believed that this strong and invincible star was still alive.  So much for the power of the media and films.

What ENTER THE CLONES OF BRUCE LEE attempts to do is to look at the clones of Bruce Lee, given stage names like Bruce Li and Bruce Le, followed by dozens of Bruceploitation films that all made money.  Bruce Lee fans are apparently inexhaustible for Bruce Lee action-packed martial arts flicks.

The two Bruce Lee clones Bruce Le and Bruce Li as well as the lesser-known ones, Bruce Liang and Dragon Lee, all speak to the camera, now in their later years about their fame and films.  The problem is that they are hardly that interesting and still follow in the shadow of the real fame of Bruce Lee.  They talk about their fake names, how they copy the movements of Bruce Lee and the filming sequences of the rip-off films.

What is more intriguing about the doc and also more interesting to Bruce Lee fans is the history of the arts films, starting with swordplay films.  The film pays tribute and devotes screen time to the Shaw organization that promoted all the Hong Kong Swordplay films followed by the martial art films.  Though Bruce Lee was never employed by Shaw Brothers but by an independent Studio at the time called Golden Harvest, the story is more than intriguing.  The reason Bruce Lee was never employed at Shaw Studios was that Lee was too cocky and the famed directors at the time that included Chang Cheh and Low Wei did not think Lee was worthy.  Director Change Cheh’s stars David Chiang (interviewed aged) and Ti Lung are also featured in the film.  Other stars at the time such as Jimmy Wang Yu (the original ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN, a high Shaw hit directed by Chang Cheh is also mentioned.

Also interesting are the other stars that made big after starring with Bruce Lee in his films.  Among them are Jim Kelly, a black-muscled actor and Angela Mao who is also a Kung-fu fighter.

ENTER THE CLONES OF BRUCE  is at its best sporadically entertaining.  There are so many stories following the fame after the death of Bruce Lee that one can understand the decision of what to include in this doc.  The clones though emphasizing the fame of Bruce Lee are unfortunately not as interesting as the real biography of Bruce Lee.  There have been countless rip-off forms claiming to tell the story of the late Bruce Lee but a true biopic doc of Bruce Lee is what is needed for the Bruce Lee fans that will finally tell the truth and do the star justice.

ENTER THE CLONES OF BRUCE plays at the Ted Rogers Hot Docs cinema in Toronto on May 31st.


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