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COLUMN: Aaron's Backstage Pass: 'Bruce Lee: The Legacy Collection' Review

Updated: 11/01/2013 1:25 PM
Created: 11/01/2013 1:24 PM KSTP.com
By: Aaron Chalich

I have always been a fan of martial art films and one of my favorite martial artists of all time is Bruce Lee, so I was pretty excited when I received a review copy of Shout Factory’s “Bruce Lee: The Legacy Collection.” This collection contains a combination of eleven Blu-rays and DVD’s that are packed with hours of documentaries, never-before-seen footage, interviews, deleted scenes, trailers, and so much more. Plus there is a 68-page book that comes with that includes never-before-seen photos and For the First Time Ever, “The Big Boss,” “Fist of Fury,” “Way of the Dragon,” and “Game of Death,” is presented on Blu-ray.

These films look and sound amazing. The picture is crystal clear and the colors just pop out. One neat feature on “The Big Boss” is that you can see how the film looked before and how it looks now digitally restored. The difference is between night and day. Before, the picture quality of the films was really bad. They were faded and overexposed, and there were tons of scratches in the prints. The people who worked on restoring the movies did an unbelievable job.

There are many different audio options that you can choose for each film. You can choose to watch the film in multiple languages and with subtitles. There is also an audio commentary on each film with Hong Kong film expert Mike Leeder. I really thought that watching the films with the audio commentary was very interesting, and I learned a lot about each film. One of the films in the collection that I have a love/hate relationship with is “Game of Death.” While Bruce Lee was filming it, he got the go ahead to start working on “Enter the Dragon,” so he quit working on “Game of Death.”  After Bruce Lee passed away, the producers decided to go ahead and release it. The film wasn’t finished so they had to go and shoot more scenes. They used a stunt double to stand in for Bruce Lee and they even used a cardboard cutout.

 I really like the movie a lot, because of the story and the final battles at the end of the film.  In “Game of Death,” Bruce Lee plays a martial arts actor named Billy Lo who is harassed by a group of men because they want him to enter a fighting competition.  Billy Lo eventually decides to confront the man in charge and he must go through several levels of fighters before he reaches him.  Bruce Lee has to go through a multi-level building, and each floor has a dangerous martial arts expert on it. One by one Bruce Lee has to fight them all. Once he beats one he goes up the stairs to the next floor and there is another deadly opponent ready to fight him.  In a way, it reminds me of a video game. 

The reason I like this film so much is that the fighting scenes are amazing.  You know Bruce will win, but you want to see who his next opponent is going to be.  The reason I hate it, is because a stunt double was used and you can obviously tell it’s not Bruce Lee and when the cardboard cutout is shown it’s ridiculous.

There are three full length documentaries (“Bruce Lee: The Legend,” “I Am Bruce Lee,” & “The Grandmaster and the Dragon: William Cheung and Bruce Lee”) that are very interesting, and you learn a lot about Bruce Lee. I really enjoyed seeing all of the never before seen photos and videos.

One of the documentaries that I really enjoyed was “I am Bruce Lee.” It featured a bunch of celebrities, athletes, and family members talking about their memories of Bruce Lee.

I mentioned earlier that there are hours of bonus material included in “Bruce Lee: The Legacy Collection,” and it is amazing how someone was able to find all of this video and put it together.

Some of the bonus features that are included in the set are: New interviews with Jon Benn, Bob Wall and many other people involved with the Bruce Lee film," "Remembering Fists of Fury" featurette, "Bruce Lee Martial Arts Master" featurette - "Game of Death Memories," featurette, still galleries, deleted scenes, alternate endings and openings, trailers and TV spots and outtakes

One thing that I thought was really neat to see was “Backyard Training: Bruce Lee’s Personal Films,” this is one of the extras on the “I am Bruce Lee” documentaries.  The reason I thought this was so cool was that you get to see never-before-seen home movies of Bruce Lee training in his backyard and teaching people like Steve McQueen and Kareem Abdul Jabbar martial arts.  I found it fascinating for some reason to see the seven-foot-tall Kareem sparing with Bruce Lee.

In one of the interviews with Bob Wall who has appeared in some of Bruce Lee’s movies, you learn that Bruce Lee never used a script when he directed his films. It was all in his head.  I thought that was pretty amazing, because how many directors do you know that can make a film without having a physical script in front of them. That’s pretty impressive in my opinion.


If you are fan of Bruce Lee or of martial arts, I would highly recommend that you get Shout Factory’s “Bruce Lee: The Legacy Collection.” The Blu-ray films look and sound amazing and the documentaries are very interesting.  The bonus features are incredible and will have you entertained for hours.  The “Bruce Lee: The Legacy Collection” is a must have for any martial arts fan.

Aaron Chalich is an entertainment columnist with KSTP.com.

Photo courtesy of the Shout Factory.

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