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Bruce Lee: The Man and the Myth Reviews

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Anthony V

Super Reviewer

January 27, 2009
Doesn't have the scope of Dragon; The Bruce Lee Story, but the re-creations are fun, plus, unlike Dragon, it does discuss some of the conspiracy theories around his death.
September 10, 2014
I only knew a handful of facts about Bruce Lee, so a film focused on bringing out the untold truth in him sounded entertaining.

I think it is too much to expect much insight or reality in a film like Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth because while it has an interesting figure as the base of its story, it is also a low budget Kung Fu movie. I expected that the film would have elements of truth to it but as a whole would be more of a tribute to Bruce Lee than an honest story about him.
It is hard for me to really believe that Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth is realistic in essentially any way because its story is so farfetched. It has the tale of essentially a generic Kung Fu film, but its protagonist is Bruce Lee and he is constantly praised by his peers and the surrounding characters as being the "king of Kung Fu" without any subtlety to it whatsoever. The film is essentially director Ng See-yuen's way of expressing his love for the man that Bruce Lee was, and so as a homage to the man himself the film is a bit better. In terms of being a film which tells of who Bruce Lee actually was however, Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth is less about the man and more about the myth. It has times when it moves away from the story and has the narrator explain elements of what is happening, but it still remains overly ridiculous as a film which claims to be biographical.
Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth is essentially just another low budget Kung Fu film which makes some allusions to the life of Bruce Lee. Still, as one that pays tribute to him, there is a certain level of respect to be given to Ng See-yuen for the way he depicts Bruce Lee as such a warrior. While Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth completely neglects the true story, as a low-budget Kung Fu film it has more meaning than the average due to what it has to say about its titular figure. It still has the limitations of the same rough sound effects and visual quality as well as poor English dubbing that essentially every low budget Kung Fu film maintains. At best, it is cheap fun and a film which should satisfy fans of Bruce Lee because it also serves as a star vehicle for popular Bruce Lee imitator Ho Chung-tao, also known as Bruce Li.
The central flaw in Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth is that because it is a pseudo biopic film, it attempts to be both a story regarding Bruce Lee and a Kung Fu guilty pleasure. This results in it uneasily walking the line between the two and coming up short in both regards. I didn't have many problems about the film lacking reality in its story about Bruce Lee, but since it came up short in its quantity of action scenes due to trying to be a biopic most of the time, it failed to really be entertaining. The action scenes in the film are choreographed excellently and involve some real talent thanks to its excellent fighters, and so the action scenes do prove to be very entertaining. But there is not enough of them. Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth has good intentions, but since it isn't going to tell the real story of Bruce Lee it would make more sense for it to go solely in the path of being a glamourisation of who he was through a heroic action tale. The direction the story goes in really does not salvage its potential considering the skilled choreography in the film. To put it simply, Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth wants to be both a story about Bruce Lee and a genuine Kung Fu film, but director Ho-Chung tao fails to find the appropriate balance to make it work.
Hoc Chung-tao is one of the primary reasons to watch Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth. He imitates Bruce Lee very well, because despite lacking the same charisma and subtle angry spirit of the man, he looks the part really well and he mimics the iconic fighting style of Bruce Lee excellently. Hoc Chung-tao puts a likable spirit into his lead performance which makes him a right fit for the role of Bruce Lee, and he really pays a befitting tribute to the man really well. Hoc-Chung tao's performance in Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth is predicated mostly on what he can contribute from a physical perspective because the role demands him be able to act quick and put up a hell of a fight, and he is able to do that all very confidently while maintaining a good mimicry of Bruce Lee's fighting style. Hoc-Chung tao can only do so much in the role of Bruce Lee because he is not characterised well by the film script and is instead there solely as a martial arts warrior, but in that sense he is able to bring precisely what is necessary to the role as it does not require much from him. To put it simply, Hoc-Chung tao looks the part of Bruce Lee well enough to be playing him and he puts up a great fight during the action scenes, and that is essentially all you could ask for from him in a film of this calibre.

So Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth has the best intentions to honour the memory of Bruce Lee and what he contributed to the world as well as an entertaining Kung fu film of its own right. But by adhering to the stereotypical conventions of low budget Kung Fu cinema it never transcends the limitations of the genre and so when it tries to be a biopic, it comes off as pretentious while the film as a whole comes up short in terms of action quantity.
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