Written by: Carroll Jenkins on November 13th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: China, 2008
Director: Li Wenqi
Cast: Danny Chan, Michelle Lang, Mark Dacascos, Wang Luoyang, Tim Storms, Ray Park, Michael Jai White
DVD released: November 1st, 2016
Approximate running time: 451 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH
DVD Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.98
Legend Of Bruce Lee was a 2008 television series of 50 episodes depicting the life of Bruce Lee, the famous martial artist and actor. Volume 1 contains 3 discs presenting episodes 1 – 10.
Danny Chan Kwok-Kwan plays Bruce Lee and is an excellent choice, as he bears a striking physical resemblance and possesses martial arts and dancing skills. He is also an accomplished actor with experience dating back to 1995.
Episodes 1 – 5 cover Lee’s high school years in Hong Kong. The basic structure of Lee’s life experiences have been used as a framework for which to stretch the melodramatic episodes. Here it is his uncle who begins to teach him martial arts at a young age rather than his father. This allows the production to insert a Rebel Without A Cause dysfunctional family dynamic, complete with the girlfriend and nerdy sidekick. His cha-cha dancing days, propensity for street fighting, problems with the police, high school boxing are all dramatized. His conflict with a triad member and ensuing battle with the protection racket is greatly expanded drawing inspiration from the plots of Lee’s martial arts features, especially The Way of the Dragon.
Episodes 6 opens with his relocation to America. This section drags a bit as we watch him wash dishes and make newspaper deliveries. Things pick up again as he encounters dojo leader Kimura, meets Linda, opens his kung fu school, and begins the epic feud with karate master Yamamoto.
The series had been edited down into a 183 minute feature film released by Lions Gate drawn from the full series. WellGo presents the first 10 45 minute episodes uncut running nearly 8 hours over 3 discs. The widescreen image is quite good for a television production. English subtitles are provided with an English dub soundtrack. However, they really should have provided the original Cantonese as an option.
The action scenes are generally exciting and well done with a respectable amount of physicality. There are a few cinematic tricks such as wires and CGI, but they are kept to a minimum. There is a lot of soap opera style melodrama in-between the action scenes, but it’s all rather endearing and palatable. Lee’s daughter Shannon was executive producer and helped create a successful and popular television series.