The Real Bruce Lee


"Though there is footage of the young Lee in this one (selected scenes from Kid Cheung, The Bad Boy, Carnival and Orphan Sam), the bulk of the footage herein is really just some good old fashioned chop-socky action courtesy of our Bruce imitators."

- Joseph Kuby

The Real Bruce Lee (1979)

Director: Jim Markovic

Writer: Lerry Dolchin

Producer: Serafim Karalexis, Dick Randall

Cast: Bruce Lee (archive footage), Bruce Li, Dragon Lee

Running Time: 120 min.

Plot: He's back! We positively guarantee the Real Bruce Lee. An early Bruce Lee film found in the Chinese archives, and introducing the new sensation DRAGON LEE, and BRUCE LI. The complete fury of martial arts as never before...

Availability: This title is available at


JOSEPH KUBY'S REVIEW: Subtle Bruceploitation!

Despite the opening sequence (which contains a nice montage of images along with an uber cool 70s tune), this "documentary" as it were is really just an excuse to give the audience lots of Bruceploitation action in the form of James Ho (or Bruce Li as he's referred to by the "documenter") and Dragon Lee (of whom the producer of this documentary was pushing forward as the new star to take over Bruce's mantle).

Dick Randall (of whom is given a bittersweet dedication during the opening of the UK DVD) wanted to make up for it with a genuine documentary of which was the 'aim' of this one - to show clips of the young Bruce Lee (hence the title of the second Bruce Lee documentary he did) though it was released in the era when the Bruceploitation era was going down and because of the lack of action (a couple of Bruce Li segments - a few of which aren't seen in The Real Bruce Lee), no-one cared so the documentary didn't make much money in the long run though this one (The Real Bruce Lee) was a surprisingly big success.

Though there is footage of the young Lee in this one (selected scenes from Kid Cheung, The Bad Boy, Carnival and Orphan Sam), the bulk of the footage herein is really just some good old fashioned chop-socky action courtesy of our Bruce imitators.

First, we see several James Ho fight scenes before seeing this movie with Dragon Lee (a.k.a. Gui Lung - albeit I won't refer to him by his real name as he was content with being associated with Bruce Lee's name).

The scenes of James in action depict him as Kato, Cheng Chao An (Bruce Lee's character in Big Boss) and a Chen Zhen-esque character taking on karatekas who are eventually armed with katanas - Samurai swords. The scenes aren't meant to have any narrative purpose (except a scene which is supposed to illustrate The Big Boss where the narrator explains why the film became popular).

The film shown at the end of this documentary is a truncated version of a Korean martial arts film (with some Hong Kong involvement) called Last Fist Of Fury (a.k.a. The Ultimate Lee), a film which you can learn more about (as well as purchase) if you go to the Rare Kung Fu Movies site.

There's lots of humour in this film (though unintentional by the looks of it) such as over the top feats like Dragon perfectly kicking this rock onto this target board and demolishing it later with another rock. Most of the humour (besides the comical-looking and stereotypical Japanese villains) comes from Dragon Lee as he is like Bruce Lee pumped up on steroids (something of which the real Bruce Lee was accused of, especially by Linda Lee's second husband Tom Bleeker who wrote a book on Bruce entitled Unsettled Matters: The Life & Death Of Bruce Lee).

I'll just go over some of the comic 'sketches' in this film...

1) An arm wrestle Dragon participates in which has lots of crazily contorted expressions between the two wrestlers.

2) Many of the fight scenes in which they are really done to the hilt and are really played to the gallery with lots of slow motion somersaults and Dragon overdoing the Bruce Lee expressions & fighting postures.

3) A fight in the woods during daytime with these Samurais in which Dragon flies/floats in the air (literally) to trample on his opponents. Earlier on we see Dragon and this Samurai holding onto opposite ends of a long black pole with the pole pressed against this tree so naturally, as you might imagine, they chase each other around the tree. This is played (and shot) very comically, especially as we see reaction shots courtesy of our two actors (which is shot very well actually but very funny, particularly when we see Dragon as he's overacting in Bruce Lee mode). The beginning of this fight has Dragon walking in the woods when he's ambushed by these Samurais who are hiding under leaves and even in some fake trees.

The soundtrack is strange as even though there's some nice beats to accomodate the music (such as this inventive scene where the lead Japanese villain shows off his katana skills in a rather unbelievable way), there's some strange/synthesizer modern 70s music which is even different and surreal than the contemporary music featured in films made in this era of which the film was made in. Music from Enter The Dragon creeps in but not as much as in Enter The Game Of Death. Also, just like Yuen Woo Ping's The Magnificent Butcher, music cues are taken from The Outlaw Josey Wales.

There's also a quick beep which can be heard during this fight scene where the old teacher of Dragon, dressed in this white suit, takes on the Samurais in their dojo.

Some of the voicework is inaudible during both the documentary and film, the sound is very muffled making you having to either turn the volume up or rewind the scene and move closer to the TV though this doesn't happen all the time.

Weirdly, there's an attempt at symbolism within this film. Prior to a fight scene or deadly scenario, we often see an enormous gathering (or mini tornado) of leaves blowing in the wind as if to say the storm is brewing or that Dragon Lee is an unstoppable force of nature.

There's probably only three actors in this film that could be considered the best in the overall production (others are either good, average or plain bad). The three most talented thespians in this film are the old master, the first main Japanese villain called Yashika (who has an amiable screen presence {most likely due to his charisma & charming menace} despite his despicable and utterly detestable role) and the second main Japanese villain called Mr. Gruber (his father is Japanese and his mother is German hence the name).

I don't know who plays the latter but he has a very subtle demeanour to him - very debonair, but whilst displaying a calm menace and holding a stern gaze (kind of like Alan Rickman). His performance climbs this movie from the cinematic trash bin.

The film is quite bad, perhaps due to the editing that was done by Serafim Karalexis but it has barely competent production values such as questionable costuming (why would Chinese martial artists wear the clothes of a Karateka? even though Karate originated from Chinese Kung Fu and was brought over to Japan by a monk {as seen in the Kung Fu epic Duel Of The 7 Tigers}, it's highly unlikely that the Chinese would adopt the clothing of the Japanese - especially during the era of which the film is set in).

To me, it seems like either a Westerner (Serafim Karalexis) or an oriental not versed in martial arts directed this due to the aforementioned costuming unless the budget was so cheap that they could only afford Karate gis (gis {pronounced gees} being the plural term for gi {pronounced gee} - Karate wear). It seems even more likely that a Westerner was involved with the making of this film as later on when we see what's meant to be the villain peeping through a hole in the wall with one of his eyes, it's obvious it's a caucasian going by the colour of skin, eye and brow.

I'm not sure if Kim Si Hyeon & Godfrey Ho were involved in this like in 5 Pattern Dragon Claws. It may have been Serafix who financed it with Godfrey Ho presenting and Kim directing.

On the topic of collaborations, there's an actor in this who's kind of like the Smithers to Yashika's Burns. The actor sports the typical Hitler-esque mustache and joins Mr Gruber for the final two on one showdown. His full name is Martin Chui Man Fooi (a.k.a. Choi Min Kyu). He must have been great friends with Dragon Lee (as was Yuen Qiu) because they appeared together in the following films: Enter The Invincible Hero, Kung Fu Fever, Dragon's Snake Fist, Martial Monks Of Shaolin Temple, Golden Dragon Silver Snake, Dragon Lee Vs. The 5 Brothers, The Dragon's Showdown, Rage Of The Dragon, The Magnificent and Dragon, The Young Master.

Though the cinematic quality of this film is highly dubious, the fight scenes, however, are quite in a league of their own (not exactly worthy of the maverick maestros - Sammo Hung, Lau Kar Leung or Yuen Woo Ping for that matter - but close enough).

Although there's a strange tendency that the fighters have to throw techniques towards the camera as if it was shot in 3-D (ala Magnificent Bodyguards - the Lo Wei-directed potboiler starring Jackie Chan).

Another tendency that took place was for the henchmen to keep on criss-crossing each other's paths as they went over to fight someone. The one thing that I liked about the action was this sparring sequence in Dragon's dojo where he and the opponent are using the animal styles of Kung Fu, this ain't an usual idea in itself but what was different was that prior to each style being used, the camera would cut to one of the scriptured illustrations on the walls of the dojo illustrating what particular style is beng used i.e. snake, crane, dragon, leopard, eagle and crab.

Some nice trampoline-work, wirework (very little wire use when compared to later offerings of the martial arts genre) and nice use of styles and weaponary.

There's one piece of weaponary that I've never seen before which is basically the martial arts equivalent of baseball gloves except made out of metal but with a sharp rim which is capable of being used as frisbees as well as for short-distance combat when the attacker chooses to wear them rather than throw them.

This allows for some truly innovative never-seen-before choreography and it would be nice to see how this weaponary would translate via the aforementioned choreographers' lens', especially in this day & age of New Wave martial arts action which is readily apparent throughout the work of Corey Yuen Kwai and Ching Siu Tung as they seem to embody this current aesthetic.

Another distinctive weapon, which is equally intriguing in its technical mechanical quality and visual splendour when used, is this black orb/bowl-shaped object which shoots out an extremely long spear-like metal (think a hi-tech/martial arts equivalent to a tape measure).

Along the way, throughout the course of the film, we're treated to some peculiar yet dazzling displays of unorthodox martial arts weaponary such as the soles of one's pair of shoes that are used as projectiles (think the aforementioned frisbees) and there's an extendable sword thrown in for good measure.

My favourite fight is one which is unique but cliche. It's unique in that it hasn't been done before, but it's cliche in that it bears all the familiar iconography of the genre thus if you were to show this clip to the average person (much less the martial arts movie fan) then they'd find it quite typical of martial arts movies as the perception of martial arts films amongst the mainstream as that it's all about ninjas with Samurai swords and some Chinese dude armed with a nunchaku (who has a bare torso and is wearing black trousers, white socks & black pumps) taking them all on single-handed without breaking a tear or sweat.

To be frank, considering the low quality of the film, the only reason why I gave this feature a high rating was based on the never-seen-before young Bruce Lee in movies, the James Ho footage (some very well realized fight scenes) and the very few merits Last Fist Of Fury has (namely the humour, the odd good bit of acting, directing & dialogue and the very well choreographed fight scenes which make up for what's essentially and primarily a cinematic mess of a monstrosity).