Some of the most exciting cult flick home video news in early 2013 is that Shout! Factory is going to reissue Bruce Lee’s non-Enter The Dragon film work on DVD and blu-ray. Their recent blu-ray edition of the documentary I Am Bruce Lee precedes those releases and it acts as an appealing, technically-slick appetizer for that reissue campaign.
The anamorphic transfer looks quite good, with the artfully shot interview material looking nice and crisp while a variety of file footage in varying states is presented as well as the various footage sources allow. Particularly worthy of note are the clips from Lee’s pre-Enter The Dragon films, all of which appear to be freshly remastered and looking impressive in high definition. If these clips are an indication of what Shout! Factory’s upcoming Lee titles will look like, fans are likely to be happy with the results.
In terms of audio, the main program boasts a DTS-HD stereo soundtrack that gets the job done: all the dialogue is crisp and the mix of vintage sounds and modern interviews is nice and smooth.
The disc also includes a few extras. “Backyard Training” and “Inspiration” are essentially lengthier version of scenes from the documentary. The former features extended extracts of Lee’s home videos training students (including James Coburn) and includes some funny comments from childhood observer Diana Lee Inosanto. The latter offers an extended riff on how Lee’s approach to martial arts influenced other practitioners, both physically and philosophically. It includes Linda Lee-Cadwell showing some of the moves Lee taught her and offering a fun account of how Lee used showmanship to wow tournament crowds.
“Bruce Lee In Action” is a brief but skillfully-edited set of combat highlights from The Big Boss, Fist Of Fury, Way Of The Dragon and Game Of Death. It’s fun to watch and the HD quality of the film clips is, again, pretty impressive. “Bruce Lee’s Hollywood Audition” is the most interesting inclusion amongst these extras: it’s the audition for television producer William Dozier from an unproduced mid-1960’s show that ultimately led to the casting of Lee on The Green Hornet. Lee is fine fettle in this clip, showing the types of movement in Chinese Opera and demonstrating kung fu moves with the help an obviously intimidated production staff member. It’s fun to watch, with Lee showing the cocky charisma and the physical dexterity that would endear him to fans.
The package is rounded out by a trailer for the main attraction. Overall this is a tidy little presentation for I Am Bruce Lee, with a strong transfer and an interesting if brief set of extras. If you’re into this iconic star’s work, this will offer a nice way to whet your appetite for the reissues to come later this year.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of I Am Bruce Lee, click here.