This documentary of the legendary martial arts master opens with footage of Bruce Lee in Hong Kong in 1973 shooting what would be his final film titled The Game of Death in which Lee served as writer, director, producer, actor, and choreographer. It is a movie he would never finish. The documentary gets down to the business of telling why Lee was the world's greatest martial artist and biggest martial arts action film star in the early 70's with interviews by his widow Linda Lee Cadwell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and others giving first-hand accounts of his struggle to succeed, his passion for martial arts, and his karate abilities.
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Lee got his start as a maverick martial arts instructor in San Francisco, but was ostracized by the martial arts community for teaching non-Asian pupils. Eventually he won the right to teach whomever he pleased with his style of Gung Fu. He had three teaching schools up and running instructing the likes of Chuck Norris and Mike Stone (Elvis' bodyguard). His schools emphasized contact Gung Fu, unlike the non-contact Karate popular at the time. He also tutored celebrities Steve McQueen, James Coburn, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He got the part of superhero sidekick Kato to the Green Hornet in the short-lived 60's television series. He starred in only three films (Four if you count 1978's The Game of Death finished posthumously with only 11 minutes of footage of Lee) Fists of Fury, Enter The Dragon and The Big Boss. Although it was his idea, he was passed over for the title role of the drifter in the series Kung Fu. The role went instead to the non-Asian David Carradine. Lee was disappointed but not bitter over the business decision.
At 5'7" and 135 pounds, Lee was a small but powerful individual who advocated ancient Chinese philosophy and wanted to revolutionize the martial arts film industry with a fluid but realistic style of fighting. He did away with the fantasy elements, sword fights and flying combatants. His films won him worldwide fame. He suffered a debilitating back injury in 1970 and although he came back from his injury better than ever he had to take prescription medication to mask the pain. He died at the age of 33. The documentary's last 35 minutes are devoted to the film footage of The Game of Death in which Lee must fight his way up 5 levels of a guarded Temple to rescue his kidnapped family. Only 3 levels were completed but he is spectacular in those 35 minutes of film including the fight to the death versus Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, all 7'2" of him!
The review of this Movie prepared by David Fletcher