Lionsgate // 2008 // 183 Minutes // Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // October 3rd, 2010
Although his life was marked by death, the legend of Bruce Lee will last forever.
Looking for the definitive Bruce Lee biopic? Keep looking.
Executive produced by Lee's daughter Shannon, The Legend of Bruce Lee is billed as a biopic that follows his life from his emigration to the U.S. and meteoric rise as a movie star to his tragic death at just 32 years old.
If you're a Bruce Lee fan like I am, and you're aware of some of the biographical projects that have been done about him, the title of this release may throw you off at first. The Legend of Bruce Lee is also the name of a 50-episode biographical TV series about Lee that began airing in October 2008. That series was in production for nine months, shot in China, Hong Kong, Macau, the U.S., Italy and Thailand, and had a budget of more than $7 million U.S. The film The Legend of Bruce Lee takes a 180 minute excerpt from the more than 2,000 minute TV series, presenting it as a complete story. The real tragedy is that, even though the series aired all over the world in 2009 and 2010, there is still no sign of a series boxed set release; until that happens, this is all we've got.
If you're looking for the definitive biopic of Bruce Lee, I'm sorry to tell you that you'll likely have to keep looking. From the opening scenes, The Legend of Bruce Lee feels like a joke, and not a very good one at that; imagine the worst English voice dubbing you've ever heard and that's what you'll find here. As I watched the film, I switched back and forth between the English and Mandarin audio tracks and neither fit the mouth movements of the actors on screen. It may be that the translation process from the original Mandarin script didn't convert well into English, but whatever the reason, the resulting dialog is ridiculous. What we're left with is character interactions that are over-the-top and cheesy beyond belief, making it very difficult for viewers to be drawn into the story. There's also very little here content-wise that sticks to Lee's actual life story, at least as I know it. Fortunately, the fight scenes throughout the film are well choreographed and feature great martial artists like Chinese actor Kwok-Kwan "Danny" Chan, who portrays Lee, and British actors Ray Park and Gary Daniels; sadly, that's just not enough to make this film worth the three-hour investment you'd have to make to get through it.
The Legend of Bruce Lee is actually a bit of a surprise on the video front, with a better-than-average presentation that exhibits solid color and contrast along with decent clarity, especially in close-up shots. On the other hand, as I alluded to before, the audio mix is far less impressive, largely due to the cheesy voice dubs and the unrealistic sound effects added to the fight scenes. There are no extra features of any kind included with this release.
While it has been criticized by fans for taking a somewhat sensationalized look at the life of Bruce Lee, Rob Cohen's 1993 film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story still stands as a solid tribute to Lee, his life and legacy. The Legend of Bruce Lee isn't even worth your time.
My biggest concern is that Lee's daughter Shannon supposedly served as
executive producer, participating in something that does essentially nothing to
honor her father's memory. The Legend of Bruce Lee is guilty of doing a
brutal job of hacking a 50-episode TV series down to 180 minutes and delivering
what is likely the weakest production ever billed as a Bruce Lee biopic.
Review content copyright © 2010 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Mandarin)
Running Time: 183 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated