Image of Bruce Lee
"For you horny guys, there's a foxy Asian chick with a Farrah Fawcett hairdo who often goes naked."
- Alvin George
Image of Bruce Lee (1978)
Director: Yueng Kuen
Cast: Ho Chung Tao (aka Bruce Li), Han Ying Chieh, Chang Lei, Chang Wu Lang, Bolo Yueng
Running Time: 88 min.
Plot: A secret agent based in Hong Kong goes after an international crime ring. The story is set in motion when a jeweler is robbed of a million dollars' worth of diamonds. Li chases after the thieves, and by and by catches up with them.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
ALVIN GEORGE'S REVIEW: I bought this video at a secondhand store. OK, so this is yet another Bruceploitation movie, with some guy named Bruce Li instead of Bruce Lee. But if you can get past the title, it's actually a fairly decent movie. For one thing, it's set in 1970s (I think) Hong Kong instead of some ancient Shaolin temple. The fight choreography, while not as good as that in a typical Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan film, is at least considerably better than that in "Slaughter in San Francisco." There's also a foxy Asian lady with Farrah-type hair who often goes naked. In all, passable.
ALVIN GEORGE'S RATING: 5/10
JOE909'S REVIEW: Image of Bruce Lee isn't the best Bruce Li movie, but neither is it the worst. The martial arts are better than any of his earlier flicks, but the ad naseum fighting, nonsensical script, and exploitative moments place it below such later Li classics as "Dynamo" and "Chinese Stuntman."
But let's get back to the exploitation. There's more nudity in Image of Bruce Lee than any other old-school chop sockey I've seen. I'm talking full-on, Grade A, female nudity. And luckily, the featured actress is pretty attractive. The actress' name is Dana (no last name; who knows, maybe she inspired Madonna), and cutely enough her character is named "Donna." She's the daughter of a crime boss, who's littering Hong Kong with counterfeit US bills. It's up to special agent Bruce Li and his shaggy-haired partner (a dead ringer for Conan's pal in "Conan the Barbarian") to stop the madness.
Li is introduced as he attempts to stop a suicide at the beginning of the film. Decked out in a yellow Game of Death outfit (complete with blue Asics Tigers!) that's been modified with some sort of special forces logo, he rappels up a large building and tries to foil the guy. No luck, though; Bruce grabs the guy's arm, only to discover too late that it's a prosthetic appendage!
An original opening; most other movies would capitalize on this, maybe showing Li's character going through some sort of depression. But after a quick sparring session with his hapless teammates, Li's on to a new mission: namely, team up with his partner and tail Donna, who's soon to arrive in Hong Kong from London. During a mission screening (in which we see that Bruce Li smokes!), Li and his pal learn that beyond the crime boss and his flunkies, there's also a Japanese faction on the scene, lead by a very nonJapanese-looking Bolo Yeung.
What follows is a comedy of errors, as Bruce and pal prove to be the most inept undercover cops in the history of movies. Their assignment is to "quietly" follow Donna, but instead they openly tail her. I mean, within moments of her getting off the plane in Hong Kong, she knows they're following her! And from there it just gets worse. I'd say this could be a parody of undercover cop movies, but the rest of the movie just doesn't justify that theory; it's just kung-fu mayhem all the way. One of those movies where fights break out at the drop of a hat. I wouldn't say it's as bad as a Bruce Le movie, but still, there are enough interesting characters on display to justify a little more character/plot development, and a little less "I'm gonna teach you a lesson!" fighting.
There are a few clever twists and surprises in store for viewers. Most notably, some nice scenes where Donna has a little fun with her pursuers (while she shows off her entire body for us viewers), and a little reversal at the end when someone reveals they aren't who we thought they were. But beyond that, Image of Bruce Lee just doesn't achieve the cheesy greatness of Li's other films, mostly because it seems that the filmmakers were afraid to take a few chances with the story. They could've given us a nice ensemble piece with mulitple plots and only a few great fights, but instead they toned down the characterization and loaded up on the chop sockey.
JOE909'S RATING: 5.5/10
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: Bruce Li is back! This time, he's up against some bad-ass gangsters that specialize in a serious counterfeiting operation. Bruce plays a special agent for the Hong Kong police division and it's up to him to bring the bastards to justice. The gangsters are headed by "The Big Boss" (played by the original "Big Boss" himself, Han Ying Chieh) and his Tony Liu-wannabe son. Both men are also deadly in the art of kung-fu (like you didn't know that), as hinted in the "Enter the Dragon-like" mission briefing that takes place early on in the film. Another addition to the bad-guy list is Bolo (played by Bolo Yueng. Surprised?), who actually has a different name in this film, but fuck it - I still call him Bolo. Unlike his usual dumb-Hulk roles, he actually adds some personality and brain to his character. With the help of of his mop-topped sidekick, Bruce Li is determined to infiltrate their counterfeit ring and stop them using his wit, charm and kung-fu skills.
The look and feel of "Image of Bruce Lee" is probably a perfect example of what influenced Quentin Tarantino's upcoming 2003 martial-arts flick "Kill Bill". Colorful, corny, action-packed, and features a handful of vivid characters that range from cops with bad mustaches to slut-like secret agents that would give any Charlie's Angel a run for their money. And let's not forget the funky music (featuring borrowed from Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver"), which captures the sound of extreme 1970s-retro. Even Bruce Li is in touch with the fashion of this period - his wardrobe, ranging from brown leather-jackets to "Game of Death" super-suits (during the opening sequence, he wears a yellow tracksuit with red stripes baring some sort of chest-patch "logo" advertised on the suit's chest) make the film's image a cool retro-treat for the eye.
"Image of Bruce Lee" is enjoyable, but mostly for unintentional reasons. The cheese-factor is certainly one of them. The fight scenes, well...like most Bruce Li flicks, there are too many and they're too long. But hell, it's a Bruce Li flick so why complain? The actual choreography is step a above the standard, but not as good as those in "Bruce Lee: The Man/The Myth" or more comparable, "Iron Dragon Strikes Back". However, the final fight between Bruce Li and "The Big Boss" looks like something they spent some time on.
Being a heterosexual male, I gotta admit, I liked the fact that the Chinese babe couldn't keep her clothes on. And I'm talkin' the whole sushi bar...tits, ass and bush. You gotta love it :) And let's not forget her slutty clothing line which proves that Daisy Duke was not the original trendsetter for her world-famous "Daisy Dukes". Not only that, but this Chinese babe is actually really cute - too bad they dubbed her voice like a winey little brat from hell. s
I dig the ending. Right before the famous words "The End" pop up, the Chinese babe is reminding the two heroes that she should be treated like a "Bond Girl" and get some romance from the leading man. The only problem is there are two leading men, so they ask her to choose. She decides to go with Bruce Li while pinching the other guy, hinting that he's the actual choice.
Recommended, but mostly for cheese-enthusiasts.
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S RATING: 7/10 (one point is for the babe!)