Documentary, by Mike Richardson, 24 August 2012

Director: Pete McCormack

Stars: Daniele Bolelli, Paul Bowman and Richard Bustillo

Country: USA

Runtime: 94 min

Release Date:

Language: English

I Am Bruce Lee is a cheap and easy documentary that takes a look at the life and times of the world’s first martial art star. Director Pete McCormack’s serves up a substandard film that recounts the life and times of the movie star born as Lee Jun Fan. It’s an economy film if ever there was one, using “bargain basement” archive footage and contributions from rent-a-celebs to pad out a “back of the fag packet” biography. Amongst the flotsam of “stars” claiming inspiration or association with the man, we get interviews with his wife and daughter, modern championship fighters, Mickey Rourke and (for some annoying reason) Taboo from The Black Eyed Peas.

I Am Bruce Lee

I Am Bruce Lee

There has never been a shortage of people volunteering opinions on Lee and his demise, and many pubs and bars boast an expert that “knows” he faked his own death so that he could work undercover for the Hong Kong police, infiltrating drugs gangs and the Triads. But I Am Bruce Lee aims (just a little higher) and features talkingheads from Stephan Bonnar, Kobe Bryant, Linda Lee Cadwell, Haywire’s (super sexy) Gina Carano, Reginald Hudlin, Dan Inosanto and Diana Lee Inosanto who was named after her god-father (Bruce Lee). The people behind I Am Bruce Lee claim that “the greatest martial artists, athletes, actors, directors, and producers in the entertainment business today share their feelings about the one who started it all, with interviews the people whose lives, careers, and belief systems are forever altered by the legendary “Father of Martial Arts Cinema”.

We get a recounting of Lee’s Hong Kong childhood and his attempts to break into Tinsel Town in the 1960s, but as Hollywood balked at the thought of a Chinese leading man, he returned to Hong Kong, where he became a star with such films as Fists of Fury and Enter the Dragon. Sadly, I Am Bruce Lee offers up nothing beyond a skim of Bruce Lee’s Wikipedia page. It neglects such titbits as his salryman role for $400 per episode as Kato in TV’s The Green Hornet or the fact that Bruce was “killed” on screen by James Garner in 1969’s Marlowe. For diehard Lee enthusiasts, there is plenty here to love: the contributions from Lee’s wife, Linda Lee Cadwell, help to display the man behind the myth and comments from his daughter and niece are also thoroughly interesting, but, as is always the case with ANY documentary on Lee it’s the archive footage, of the man himself that knocks you out. Even if his quotes now sound somewhat dated and hippyish; “I have always been a martial artist by choice, an actor by profession, but above all, am actualising myself to be an artist of life”, “Empty your mind. Become formless and shapeless like water. When water is poured into a cup, it becomes the cup. When water is poured into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Be water, my friend.” and, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”.

The film examines the icon-dancer-actor-writer-fighter’s career, firstly as a martial arts instructor, and later as the world’s foremost Chinese-American action movie star and touches on the (still) mysterious and tragic in 1973 at the age of 32.

Sadly we’re still waiting for the definitive Lee documentary, but let’s leave the last word to Lee himself, who said, somewhat portentously, “The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”

I Am Bruce Lee Trailer

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