Bruce Lee Legacy Collection
Shout! Factory, the prolific distributor of genre and exploitation films in the U.S., has recently released the ultimate for-fans-only package: "Bruce Lee, The Legacy Collection." The pictures included comprise of Lee’s most famous cinematic works outside of "Enter the Dragon," but the collection, which packages both Blu-rays and DVDs of four separate films with an overwhelming selection of special features, is intended for the longtime Lee devotees. When it comes to this set, hardcore fans only need apply.
The 11-disc set - four Blu-ray films, four DVD copies of those films, plus three extra DVDs of special features -hits you up with context before you even get to the features. A 1973 documentary feature, entitled "Bruce Lee: The Man and the Legend," investigates the shock that occurred surrounding Lee’s infamous untimely passing. The doc, which essentially holds Lee up as a national hero, runs around 80 minutes. Another feature, clocking in at a similar running time, is titled "Bruce Lee: The Legend." Sourced from 1977, the picture investigates Lee’s upbringing and rise to fame.
Another DVD features the previously released "I Am Bruce Lee," which had already seen a Blu-ray release from Shout. A more recent feature-length documentary, it’s anchored by interviews with Lee’s widow, whose reminiscences bring the picture to emotional heights far grander than the two ’70s-made documentaries. But the contemporary angle also hurts it: Just a few years after release, its talking-heads depiction of UFC fighters crediting Lee’s influence feels laughably dated.
Luckily, there’s an endless collection of other special features to distract you from any weaknesses in the feature length documentaries. We have a half-hour interview with personality Bob Wall on Lee’s unfinished "Game of Death," along with another interview with the man on the topic of his "Way of the Dragon" debut. There’s another interview regarding the former film featuring actor Dan Inosanto. Then there’s a 43-minute block of interviews sourced from the stars of "Fists of Fury."
There’s also a stills gallery, along with three 40-minute-plus features: One on Lee’s relationship with trainer William Cheung, another that queries current action stars and filmmakers on Lee’s influence, and finally one from British television, devoted to the topic of his "Legacy." That’s not to mention the densely packed softcover "book" included in the back half of the packaging!
And that doesn’t even begin to cover the films. Offered on both Blu-ray and DVD copies, you get Lee’s "The Big Boss," an early effort that is low on fight scenes, but high on Lee personality; "Game of Death," Lee’s posthumously released, half-finished final effort; "The Way of the Dragon," which Lee directed personally and features a series of bittersweet, surprisingly philosophical battles between the Dragon and a young Chuck Norris; and finally "Fists of Fury," formerly known as "The Chinese Connection," which features Lee’s fighting in well composed long shots, and a wider scope than most of the other work.
Each of these films comes back with its own, heretofore unmentioned special features - alternate title sequences, audio commentaries, deleted scenes, and, in the case of "Game of Death," entirely different cuts of the movie (You get both the 100-minute posthumous cut, and the 40 minutes that were completed and edited prior to Lee’s death as two individual features.) Shout could’ve easily upgraded these films to Blu-ray, released them without extras, and called it a day. I still would’ve been sold. Instead, they’ve given us Lee fanatics enough special features to fill up innumerable rainy weekends. It makes you feel the same way you do when you watch Lee’s fights: This package is nothing less than intimidating.
"Bruce Lee: The Legacy Collection"