Review: The Image of Bruce Lee (1982)


Starring Bruce Li, Bolo Yeung, Lik Cheung, Ying-Chieh Han, John Chueng

Fight Choreography by Bruce Li

Directed by Chuang Yang

Let’s get one thing out of the way first…the only image of Bruce Lee you get close to seeing is at the beginning of the film, where you see Dragon (Li) dressed up in the Bruce Lee Game of Death track suit. Dragon is part of Special Squad, which must mean he gets to wear yellow track suits, just to let everyone know who he’s with.

The film opens as Dragon tries to thwart a suicide jumper by sneaking up on him, and fails miserably as the man jumps to his death anyway. So, Dragon gets all pissy about it so of course while training in the gym some of his coworkers challenge him to a little bit of sparring. What the hell ever. Dragon spars lightly at first and then decides to go all Bruce Lee on them and jacks them up, which is a dick move, and also means he won’t be getting an invite to the Police Appreciation Night.

Meanwhile Moustache (Lik Chueng, and yes, that’s the character’s name), an undercover cop interrogates a bar owner for running around with counterfeit money. He points out that he got it from local strip club, and from there Moustache goes to the home of…someone who has something to do with it. It turns out that Dragon was sneaking around and is found by Moustache and so they have to fight until they both realize they are cops. Now if Dragon were nicer he would get invited to more events where he may have actually met Moustache. Yeah, Dragon’s a douche. The fight here is horrible because…it takes place in the dark and you can hardly see anything!

The police chief teams the two up to take down the ringleader of the counterfeiters Han Tin Ling (Han), who is in the middle of making a deal with Japanese mob boss Kimura played by Bolo Yueng who looks like a Chinese Captain Kangaroo. On steroids. And really mean. Dragon follows Han’s son and Han’s niece Donna, who has just returned with new counterfeit plates. Dragon and Moustache discover that things are not what they seem, nor are all the people who are in on the plot…

This is a silly film, but a fun one. They know who their audience is, for certain. If there isn’t a fight scene then there’s a naked woman somewhere. Everywhere. It’s like there wasn’t a clothing budget for any females in the film, particularly for Donna, and by the end of the film there is absolutely nothing left to the imagination regarding her body. Bruce Li is playing the same kind of character he usually does, and doesn’t bring much more to it.

If stealth had a name…Dragon and Moustache wouldn’t be anywhere near it. Every attempt that includes the words sneak, follow discreetly, stealth, and hide end in grand failure, each and every time. There are mountains that can hide better than these two. I think the writers kinda did that on purpose. Dragon, after all, is kind of a dick. No where do they say he or Moustache are good cops.

The fights in the film start out fairly lightweight, but get much better toward the end of this film. It’s great to see Bolo get into a fight (he has two versus Bruce Li) that’s pretty good and really allows him to show off his skills in a way he never could in any JCVD film. He still can’t rock a white turtleneck sweater, though. The final fights are decent enough, and it’s great to see Ying Chieh Han as a baddie again (The Big Boss). The funniest thing about this film is that for once, the police characters don’t kill anyone! They just beat them up, and actually take them to jail, which for a martial arts film not starring Jackie Chan is something of a novelty.

This a kung fu film in the lightest of definitions. The fights aren’t particularly complex nor exciting to watch, but isn’t a terrible time waster. It may actually make a good party film. No one has to pay too much attention to it except for where there is fighting. Or nudity.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (6) Just barely above average. It was great to see Bolo get a decent fight scene, however. The rest is unimaginative choreography we’ve seen in dozens of films. This is just a few years before Jackie Chan’s Police Story, so this is nearing the end of this style of fight choreography.

STUNTWORK: (5) Fairly weak stuff. Once again, this era is ending, and a new, more impressive and brutal style of stunt work was on its way.

STAR POWER: (6) Except for Bolo, this film is nearing the ends of a few careers, rather than the beginning. Many of these stars were fading.

FINAL GRADE: (6) A fun, but ultimately forgettable film that is better known for the two b’s: boobs and Bolo. That pretty much sums up the entire film.

NEXT: Iko Uwais must take a journey of self-realization. And kick a few heads along the way in Merantau!