Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 26th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1978
Director: Chuan Yang
Writer: Weng Zhaoquan
Cast: Bruce Li, Chang Leih, Dana Lei, Ling Wei Chen, John Cheung, Ging Man Fung, Ying-Chieh Han, Yee San Hon, Pak-Kwong Ho, Bolo Yeung
DVD released: April 1st, 2005
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: United American Video
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $4.99
Synopsis: Special Squad leader and Inspector Wang infiltrate a counterfeiting operation that has just set up shop in Hong Kong.
After the death of Bruce Lee film producers’ around the world scrambled to find the next big martial arts superstar who could replace or at least imitate Bruce Lee. Virtually overnight there would spawn dozen’s of Bruce Lee imitators’ including several who used stage names that were similar to Bruce Lee’s. Out of all of these Bruce Lee clones arguably the best and most famous is Ho Chung Tao who would assume the alias Bruce Li.
Outside of the opening scene where Bruce Li wears a yellow jumpsuit Image of Bruce Lee is not really a Brucesploitation since Bruce Li keeps the Bruce Lee mannerisms to a minimum. Also Bruce Li’s character that is referred to in the film as Special Squad leader is paired with a “Mustached” partner named Inspector Wang. Bruce Lee in the majority of his films played more of a loner and who was reluctant to accept others help. The paring of Bruce Li and Chang Leih as partners trying to take down a counterfeit crime syndicate leads to many comedic moments that perfectly offset the films numerous wall to wall action sequences.
Image of Bruce Lee was directed by Chuan Yang whose other directing credits include Hell Has No Boundary and Seeding of a Ghost. The action scenes are well executed especially a scene where Bruce Li’s character faces off against one of the bad guys played by Bolo Yeung. There are also some moments of comedy which all come off well like the films ending. I am not sure if the comedy is a product of the English dubbed (the only version I have seen) or if it is in every version of the film including the Cantonese language version of the film. Of note the soundtrack features some music cues from Bernard Herrmann’s score for Taxi Driver.
Image of Bruce Lee features a solid cast that includes several martial arts regulars like Ying-Chieh Han (The Big Boss, The Chinese Connection), Ging Man Fung (Drunken Master) and John Cheung (Bloodsport). Bruce Li gives one of his stronger performances and all of his fighting scenes are exceptional. In the role as one of the main bad guy’s Kimura is Bolo Yeung whose takes full advantage of his limited role. The films main female character Donna is played by an actress named Dana Lei (Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment) who has several scenes were she bears it all. Overall Image of Bruce Lee is an entertaining police procedural film that features several memorable fight scenes.
This DVD release presents Image of Bruce Lee in a cropped 4:3 full frame aspect ratio that pan and scans the image which greatly disrupts the framing of the image. The film was composed at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and I have yet to come across any release of this film that presents the film in its original aspect ratio. Image of Bruce Lee has made the rounds on several of the numerous budget label DVD releases that source the image from worn, faded, cropped VHS sources. Event though the image can looks harsh at times it is more than watchable.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. The audio fares no better than the video. There is hiss and other sound defects that are present throughout. Also the audio sounds flat and volume adjustment may be required to hear everything that is being said.
This DVD is a bare bones release that comes with a generic menu and no real extra content. Even the films cover is a travesty as it features the real “Bruce Lee” who is not even in the film. At least the cover which shows money behind Bruce lee incorporated one of the main parts of the plot into the cover image. Overall this release is no better than any other for Image of Bruce Lee that I have ever comes across. For those who are into Brucexploitation or just want to see this film you best option is seeking out the cheapest priced of the budget label release of Image of Bruce Lee.