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Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee: The Master Collection

by Johnny Bray

It's difficult to figure out whether a Bruce Lee fan would be more or less disappointed in this pathetic excuse for a boxed set than I was.

As a non-Bruce Lee fan, the fact that there are no good aspects of this set are no means by which to make me a fan. For starters, the picture is not anamorphic. This is unforgivable, despite them all being movies from the early-to-mid 70s. However, the video has seemingly not been touched since the original cuts of the films and in fact the opening logos proclaim that they're a "special widescreen presentation," when they're really only letterboxed. It appears Fox has merely repackaged the laserdisc version, which hardly makes for a special, collectors' edition.

The picture is bad enough to start with, and at times you even get horrible waverings and dust interfering with the picture.

This is unacceptable.

To make matters worse, the sound is in mono. I guess this is not bad, since the original sound of the films was mono to start with, but with so much other good remastering of mono soundtracks being done (for example, the old Star Trek TV shows), it's too bad that Fox chose the easy way out for this "collectors edition." Fox could even have looked at its own DVD library, for example the Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection, to see how it should be done.

On top of all that, the movies are really, really, really bad. The first in the set is Fists of Fury. The reason we all love Jackie Chan or Jet Li movies (whether we're willing to admit it or not) is because of the fight sequences. They're all so beautifully choreographed and well made, that it makes watching a bad movie more than worthwhile.

The fight scenes in these Bruce Lee movies seem to have been choreographed by a white-belt karate student, as opposed to a professional martial arts choreographer. Here is how I believe the instructions went:

"Okay, you run towards him, he'll kick you, then you fall down. And you - you run towards him, he's going to kick you, you fall down. Now you - you have the hard job. You run towards him, he's going to punch you, then you fall down. Bruce, you kick him, then kick him, and then punch him. They're all going to fall down."

The best part of this boxed set, is that only one of the movies is longer than 100 minutes.

Bruce Lee: The Legend, is the biography of the famed martial arts star. But it's not difficult to tell that it wasn't made specially for this set. It seems to have aired in the early 80s, and again, the picture and sound have not been touched. It's a poorly done biography that has one of those "narrators" that always did the voice-overs for those crappy junior high films. It's an annoying, monotone voice, with nothing interesting to say in the first place. You want nothing more than to be able to turn it off like an audio commentary.

The final point to make while reviewing this "boxed set," is to mention that there is not a single special feature in the entire thing, other than the little pamphlet of background information that's included in the box. Other than that, there isn't even a theatrical trailer (which is not really that special anyway).

Now, going back to what I said in the first sentence: If you are not a fan of Bruce Lee, you will be disgusted with this waste of time and space. However, a Bruce Lee fan may even be more disgusted with the treatment their favorite Lee movies have been given here.

Either way, I recommend that you ignore this boxed set, and never give it another thought.


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Updated May 13, 2006