Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 18th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1975
Directors: Pin Lin, Harold B. Swartz
Cast: Bruce Li, Mung Ping, Roland Brown
DVD released: July 27th, 2004
Approximate running time: 83 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: Anchor Bay
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.98
Long live the King!
Gymnast Lee Roy Lung (Bruce Li) is hired by a Hong Kong producer because of his strong resemblance to recently deceased king of kung fu Bruce Lee. They want Lee Roy Lung to stand in for Bruce Lee and help finish Lee’s unfinished final project. After the opening prolog the last 74 minutes is when the film shifts to a film within a film as Lee is tricked into helping a crime syndicate by delivering a box whose contents the bad guys would kill for. The mob kidnap Lee’s fiancée and in order to save her he must climb seven levels of the tower of death and face on each floor some of the worlds fiercest warriors.
In the early 1970’s Bruce Lee was a major part of the success of martial arts as international phenomena. When Lee died in 1973 filmmakers in Asia not wanting a good thing to end came up with a way to keep Bruce Lee’s image alive. They would start a genre of films that would exploit Bruce Lee’s name and image for financial gain. Chung Tao Ho (Bruce Li), idolized Bruce Lee and when a producer asked him to imitate his fallen idol he accepted making his film debut in 1975’s Goodbye Bruce Lee. I have seen Bruce Li in a couple films so far and Goodbye Bruce Lee he is by far and away his greatest performance. His fighting scenes are really well choreographed and the tone of his performance overall is more serious then in his other films. The films theme song “King of Kung Fu” sung by Candy is pure gold and it adds to the films campy atmosphere. The plot is stronger then any other Bruceploitation that I have seen so far and in the end the movie is a lot of fun with some really cool martial arts. Bruce Li will never has the charisma and skill the real Bruce Lee had, still in this film he holds his own. One has to wonder what all these producers were thinking when they tried to exploit Bruce Lee’s name and image with an endless stream of Bruce Lee clones.
Goodbye Bruce Lee has been anamorphic enhanced and it is presented in its original 2:35:1 aspect ratio. The colors are solid and the overall detail is sharp throughout. My only complaint would be that in darker scenes grain is more apparent, still Anchor Bay has done a wonderful job giving this martial arts classic its best home video presentation to date. Unfortunately Anchor Bay has elected to only include the English dubbed audio track which is clean and free of distortion. The more Asian films I watch the more I wish these companies would include original language audio options instead of just including English dub tracks which more often then not are poorly done. Goodbye Bruce Lee English dubbed track is better then most I have heard, but then this film like other Bruceploitation films that I have seen benefit from English dubbed tracks by giving the film a comedic feel overall. Anchor Bay comes up short in the extras department and the only extra included on this DVD is the films English language trailer. Goodbye Bruce Lee is one of the first to exploit Bruce Lee’s name and image and it is one of better made Bruceploitation films that I have seen to date. It would have been cool if there had been some extras like a documentary exploring the exploitation of Bruce Lee and the genre of films that spawned in the wake of Lee’s death. Loaded with kick ass kung fu and Anchor Bay’s DVD can be found cheap I highly recommend martial arts fans check out Goodbye Bruce Lee.