Sunday, January 4, 2015

Movie Talk - Bruceploitation 2: Return of the Cash-Ins on Bruce Lee's Death!

Fists of Bruce Lee is the only place where you'll see a fake Bruce Lee fight a fake Napoleon Dynamite.

Well, it’s time to look at some movies that wanted to cash in on the death of martial arts actor, Bruce Lee. For those who don’t know, that’s the basic definition of Bruceploitation. Last year, I looked at some movies that tried to make money off his death. Some were rip-offs of his movies, some were unofficial sequels to movies, some were “biographical,” and some were just straight-up insane. I looked at The Clones of Bruce Lee last year and yes, there were actual clones. That should tell you how ludicrous this craze was.

Still, there is some fun to be had with these movies. While they may not be good works of cinema, they have their moments. They’re so diverse that they can go either way in quality. Some of the ones I looked at last year weren’t that bad in some areas. So, sit back while I spiel about five pieces of 70’s schlock.

The Dragon Dies Hard aka Bruce Lee, We Miss You
This movie from 1975 stars Ho Chung Tao aka “Bruce Li” and he was actually considered to be one of the better impersonators. I vaguely remember renting this movie a long time ago from this video store on Minor Hill Road. In the movie, Tao plays Stone, a martial artist and fan of Bruce Lee. When news of Lee’s death hits, Stone is devastated. Things turn on a head when the spirit of Bruce Lee (Eh?) comes to Stone. Because of this, Stone is determined to find out what really happened to Lee. 
Man, what the heck are they wearing?

While Tao is considered to be one of the better impersonators, this wasn’t one of his better ones. This movie actually felt a lot like Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger which was another movie I looked at last year. It has the same plot and it was released a year later. While that movie was a homage/rip-off of Fist of Fury, this one kind of had its own story. The whole “Spirit of Bruce Lee” thing was weird. What’s even weirder and maybe offensive is Lee’s death scene. We actually see Lee die here and I don’t know if I should be offended or laugh at it because it’s so hilarious. You have to see it to believe it.

The plot itself is bland. It’s just not that interesting. The movie also is a bit of a slog to get through. The actual bad guys don’t show up until the last 30 minutes of the film. The fight scenes aren’t too bad, but they are pretty dull and repetitive. They also seemed like they didn’t want to end. At least you get a fight on a moving bus. Overall, this isn’t one of the good ones. It’s so bland and it doesn’t have much to it.

Dragon Lee Vs. The Five Brothers
Dragon Lee Vs. the Five Brothers was released in 1978. It stars North Korean actor Mun Kyong-sok aka “Dragon Lee.” I also looked at a couple of his movies last year. This movie takes place in the past. Dragon plays as Han Min, a man who is working for a rebel group against the Ching government. The Ching government is after a name list of rebel operatives and it has its four warriors (not brothers) who are trained in martial arts searching for the list. Han and the rebels are helped out by a woman who is the fifth warrior and is an expert in martial arts.
I bet this woman is thinking "that's not Bruce Lee!"

This movie isn’t what I thought it would be. Instead of a Bruce Lee type movie, we get a straight-up kung fu movie. I’m not complaining about that since I actually enjoyed this one. That’s not to say it has its issues. Dragon is really in the movie for about 30 minutes. The plot itself is a bland one. The title of this movie is actually a lie since most of these “brothers” aren’t even related. This got really confusing in the movie itself. I guess the dubbing and translation got messed up somewhere.

Still, there were things for me to like. While some of the fight scenes were bland, some were pretty interesting. The bad guys were pretty flashy. We even had a villain with a metal hand. The female fighter (played by Qui Yuen) was actually more interesting that Han was. She even had a hat like Kung Lao’s hat from Mortal Kombat. The movie also has some decent humor in it. It also has a decent ending. Overall, this was one of the better movies I’ve watched.

Fists of Bruce Lee
Fists of Bruce Lee is another one that stars Ho Chung Tao as the title character. He also directed this one. Thankfully, it’s not a rehash or “biography.” In it, Tao plays Lee Min-Chin, an undercover cop who gets pulled into a gang war. He’s assigned to protect one mobster and his daughter. The other gang tries to hire him as well and want him to kidnap the daughter for ransom. Many fights ensue and we apparently see Jon Hader’s long lost twin.

This is bland but a little better than The Dragon Dies Hard. The story itself is pretty bland and kind of confusing. The ending was actually pretty bad. It’s like they didn’t know how to end it. There are points where I don’t know who is on what side. I will say that the fight scenes are pretty decent for the most part. The movie also reuses music from movies like Enter the Dragon and The Man with the Golden Gun. We even get a rendition of “Pick Up The Pieces” in the title. The little romance between Lee and the daughter was okay as well.
Gosh! I’m in a freakin’ kung fu movie from the 70’s!

The movie even has some memorable characters. The daughter was funny and kinda cute. The opposing gang has a boss who looks like an Asian version of Wayne Newton. Another one on that gang almost looks like Jon Heder from Napoleon Dynamite. When that guy was on screen, it was hilarious. Then, there was a man named "Poochie Cheng" (I can’t spell it). I was wondering what was up with this guy. The guy was weird and kind of creepy since he had his eye on the mobster’s daughter. Overall, it’s a little bland, but the fight scenes and some of the characters at least make this a watch.

Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth aka Bruce Lee: The True Story
This semi-biography was released in 1976. It also stars Ho Chung Tao as Bruce Lee. This guy got around, didn’t he? The movie tries to showcase Lee’s life from his time in America to his time as a star in Hong Kong. He also gets into a crapload of fights for little reason. Think Dragon: A Bruce Lee Story but only really loose about Lee’s life and exploits. Hey, as it says in the title, it is “The Myth” after all.

This was a weird movie. As I said before, it’s not the true story of Bruce Lee. It’s just a highly fictionalized story about Bruce Lee’s life. Instead of looking at his time as a husband and father (like Dragon: A Bruce Lee Story did), it just looks at his time as a fighter. We only see his family for a like a few seconds. We just move from fight to fight with little filler about his life. Also, someone apparently forgot to tell the costume designer that this was a period piece. I doubt brothers dressed in 70’s clothes back in the early 60’s. It also has its silly moments with Lee apparently using Ivan Drago’s computer equipment to train.
Uh... What?

The fight scenes are pretty decent for the most part. They aren’t great but they are choreographed well for the most part. I especially liked the fights with the Muay Thai opponents. The movie is also shot in a variety of locations this time around. We also get what is possibly the most realistic version of Lee’s death. Overall, it’s alright. It tries its best to be a biography but it falls into basically being a movie where Bruce Lee beats up everybody. If you’re looking for a biography, this wouldn’t be it. Dragon: A Bruce Lee Story may not be completely accurate, but it looked at Lee’s life better than this did.

Bruce Lee Fights Back From The Grave 
This movie was released in 1976. It stars Jun Chong aka “Bruce H.K. Lea.” Now, that’s a weird name. Last year, I gave this movie another name: “False Advertisement: The Movie.” This movie has nothing to do with Bruce Lee pulling a Lazarus. The first few minutes will make you think that though. After a while, you then realize that it’s not about that cool, ludicrous plot. It’s about Wong Han (Chong) who comes to Los Angeles to visit his rich friend. When he finds out that his friend supposedly committed suicide, he sets out to find out what happened with the help of “Random Hot Chick.”
Don't be fooled! This is all you get!

While that plot sounds boring, you’d be shocked to know that “Lee” faces a samurai, a Shaka Zulu look-alike, a cowboy, a Brian Blessed look-alike, and a Charles Bronson look-alike. Even with those weird elements, you still get a pretty bland movie. Even without the title, it’s not a good one. I put off seeing this one last year because of it. It’s really a labor to get through because of the boring plot. The dubbing is also horrible at points. You have to see the scene where he’s getting accosted by the police.
I didn't get this. I guess it's custom to carry your friend's remains around?

Still, it has a couple of merits. Yes, I’m saying that this movie has some okay things. There are some unintentional funny bits here. The fight scenes are also pretty decent especially the fight with the samurai. It also has a nice twist at the end that I actually didn’t see coming. It also has a nice but sad end. Even if it has some okay things, I’d give this one a pass. Its misleading title and boring plot make this a skip.


In the end, these movies are as weird as you can get. While some of them are pretty bad, there are usually a few moments where they're guaranteed to make you laugh. There are still a lot of these movies out there, so I'll be back next year with the third installment of these movies. Peace, God Bless, and make sure no one makes any "Ryellsploitation" movies in the far future. They might turn me into a 6-foot brother with an attitude who is also computer hacker and likes big butts or something. Some of that could be true, but you never know.

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