There probably isn’t a documentary made that could fully capture the true story of Bruce Lee, the martial artists legend and movie star known for his deep Chinese philosophies. This tribute is preoccupied with proclaiming Bruce as the father of the popular new UFC mixed martial arts craze. And while it’s an interesting idea, the use of Mickey Rourke, Kobe Bryant, Ed O’ Neill and Taboo (of Black Eye Peas fame) as fanboy commentators just comes across as tacky. Thankfully, the film is lifted by appearances from Lee’s closest friends, students, family and great archive footage of Bruce in action.
The quarter-German, three-quarters Chinese Jeet Kune Do founder, Bruce Lee, left the world way too soon, leaving behind a legacy of great movies. His ideas on bringing together eastern and western cultures have shaped the world of martial arts and cinema equally. Till this day Bruce’s style and onscreen personality continue to influence generations and spawn new fans. In I Am Bruce Lee, an amiable fan-letter tribute, director Pete McCormack explores this fandom by allowing well-known Bruce Lee fans the opportunity to discuss Lee’s influence on modern culture and sport. While there are moments of interest, like some of the Lee family’s home footage, it feels like McCormack is delivering familiar facts with a new agenda.
The documentary starts off with Bruce’s early screen test for The Green Hornet and then moves onto the rise of the star; his early childhood, his training with Yip Man and his move to America. Interviews with Lee are cut in between the various discussions. Some of dialogue includes Bruce’s opinions on racism, Chinese culture, fame and Hollywood. Unfortunately, McCormack doesn’t leave behind the tacky fight imitations, having the stars howl and whine into the camera.
In 1973 after a mere five starring roles Bruce died suddenly in Hong Kong at the end of shooting Enter the Dragon. The movie concludes with an interesting discussion of how Hollywood has never been interested in promoting an Asian-American leading male.