This review is for the upcoming U.K release of Young Bruce Lee, a film that follows the master during his first 19 years on the planet. It was made in participation with Lee's Hong Kong Family and is released by Cine-Asia on 30th March 2011. Check out the review after the break.
“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.” -Bruce Lee
The above quote proves that Bruce Lee did lead a life worth remembering and that he has obtained immortality due to his amazing work. Bruce Lee died at the age of 32 on 23rd July 1973 and left a long lasting legacy as the greatest Martial Arts performer the world has ever seen. He Was exceptionally fast and had his own philosophy on how martial arts can be learnt, Jeet Kun Do, a style that he created. Bruce Lee not only became the greatest Martial Artist of the 20th Century but his films alone changed the way asian actors and Martial Arts are viewed in the west. In 1993 director Rob Cohen (The Fast And Furious) Directed and co-wrote, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story based on the book by his Widow, Linda Lee, however, that film contradicts the film I am about to review.
Young Bruce Lee (aka Bruce Lee: My Brother) focuses on the first 19 years of Bruce's Life, his Family and how he learnt martial arts and how he was one of the most popular child actors in Hong Kong. Dragon, doesn't show us any of this. The film starts with Bruce being born in a San Francisco hospital in 1941. His father, the lead actor in a traveling Chinese Opera is touring there with his Wife Grace. They return to hong Kong and we follow Bruce's life from this point.
As a viewer it is very interesting to see how a man of his status grew up. His parents are harrassed by invading Japanese Forces during world war 2, then we see them being harrassed by The commonwelth when British rule of Hong Kong resumed after WW2 and how Bruce used to live, his large family and his close friends.
What this film shows us, is that From around the age of 6/7 Bruce started making movies and how he became one of the best known child actors in Hong Kong. The film doesn't dwell on how he was trained by Ip Man but does include it. The film is more about his childhood and his teenage years and why he ended up going to America.
For anyone going into this film expecting fight scene after fight scene, then you will be saddly disappointed as this is more of a drama, a biopic. You would expect some fighting and there are two well done fights. The first is a boxing match and the second is a street fight re-match. The street fight is very reminiciant of the battle between Bruce and Chuck Norris in Way Of The Dragon. But the film focuses mainly on how he used to be, a cheeky, mischivious child, then a teenager who looks out for his friends. So this is not an action film.
The cinematography is brilliant, the film has a washed out look and the period detail is spot on. The costumes of the fifties are all v-necks, Large Collars, Flowing skirts and yellow dresses, the type you'd see in Grease or West Side Story. Then there's the use of music. The Film uses rock and roll to great effect as this was the music at the time, The score of the film really adds to the drama too.
The opening credits is one continuous tracking shot, moving through the Lee household as the credits appear on screen and giving us a glimps of where Bruce grew up.
The Casting for the film is great too, Bruce is portrayed by Aarif Rahman, who looks almost exactly like Bruce, he's very charismatic and looks as though studied Bruce's manorisms.
Tony Leung Kar Fai playse Bruce's Father, a loving man but strict to a degree. His mother is played by Christy Chung (Gen-Y-Cops) and she brings an emotional performance to the roll of Lee's Mother.
The two fight scenes, especially the second, are brilliantly choreographed, The second fight shows the speed at which Bruce was able to move and not allow his opponant to land a single blow. But like I have said this isn't you're usual martial arts film and does center more on the drama than action.
The Film was produced by Bruce Lee's youngest brother Robert Lee and his sister Phoebe Lee and is the 'untold story' of Lee's early family and personal lives and is based on the book by Robert Lee.
Final Verdict On The Film:
Young Bruce Lee is a well acted and very well directed story of how one man became an icon and how he changed the face of martial arts cinema. I highly recommend fans of Bruce Lee and Asian Cinema in general to check this film out.
CINE-ASIA presents the film in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 stereo Cantonese Audio tracks and give us English subtitles. The film comes accompanied by an informative commentary by asian cinema expert Bey Logan.
There are 14 production diaries that cover the making of the film from clothing to casting.
Cine-Asia also present us with an exclusive 25min documentary on the legend of Bruce Lee called 'Memories Of The Master' which includes interviews with friends and historians including actress Nancy Kwan and Linda Palmer, friend and photographer of Lee and former wife of chairman of Warner Brothers Ted Ashley.
We also get a trailer gallery and deleted scenes aswel as the usual Cine-Asia coming attractions trailer gallery.
Young Bruce Lee is a available on 2 Disc DVD from Cine-Asia on 30th May 2011.