DVD Reviews \ Bruce Lee in G.O.D

Bruce Lee In G.O.D. for the uninitiated is a Japanese alternative to the U.S. documentary 'A Warrior's Journey'. Where John Little's film sets out to chart Bruce Lee's life, career and philosophical approach to film-making via the 'long-lost' Game of Death footage, this theatrically released film (in Japan only I might add), looks at things from a totally different perspective.

In this version, director Toshikazu Okushi decides to present us with his version of the last year of Bruce Lee's life through a mix of a bizzare 'bio-style' film, interviews with Bruce's colleagues and a different edit of the above Game of Death footage. The resulting product is a bit of a mess, for although the bio-film is well shot and scored it is populated with a cast of Chinese non-actors struggling to deliver any kind of performance in an unfamiliar language (English).

Actually, David Lee who plays Bruce is at least trying to act, but ultimately comes off as a big ego-freak who likes to bully his fellow workers. He seems to spend every waking minute agonising over his pet project - Game of Death. If Bruce REALLY had been like this character his obsessiveness surely helped bring on his ultimate demise.

It takes more than a few viewings to really get a handle on what's going on in this film as the accents of the cast don't help and huge portions of dialogue is spoken in Cantonese with only Japanese subtitles as an option for the viewer!

One cast member is a girl who works at the studio. At the beginning she kind of narrates the set up of the film. Soon she becomes a VERY annoying sycophant, following 'Bruce' everywhere with questions. In one scene he finally snaps at her, unfortunately (for me that is!) he doesn't knock her bloody teeth out!

Linda Lee doesn't fare any better, played by one Tiffany Lee who is both pretty and pretty awful at acting. Interspersed with the muddled plot on screen, the audience is treated to interviews with Yuen Wah, Chaplin Chang (both in Cantonese!) and Dan Inosanto (in English thankfully). How this fits into the film's (untranslated) structure is anybody's guess. And so we reach the REAL Game of Death footage. I have to say here and now that the actual film looks fabulous. Anamorphic widescreen and totally cleaned up, it makes John Little's edit look like a cheap pirate copy.

The dolby digital stereo track is very cool, with Bruce's 'borrowed' fight sounds matching a hell of a lot better than the afore mentioned version. A nice touch is that one can hear a cool wind effect that filters in to the Pagoda, during the entire sequence.

Tomohiro Endo's music is another bonus, easily eclipsing Wayne Hawkins' 'Warrior's Journey' score. If I have a gripe it's the over-long takes used in the film.

It's obvious that director Okushi wants to drag out every last frame of film to increase the running time and that makes the pacing suffer.

During the final credits the audience is treated to another few minutes of rare outtakes that give productions like this a touch of class.

Extras

Only two trailers I'm afraid.

The Japanese theatrical version

The video/dvd trailer.

Both very collectable to the fans. Subtitles. Japanese naturally!

Packaging

It's in black (yawn.....) with a sillouhetted pic of Bruce. Some nice little colour pics on the reverse though.

Sound

Dolby Digital 2:0 Stereo. Great clear stereo mix.

Summary

I would say that this disc is for completists only. The disc is superbly presented in both audio and video, but because the 'Artport' footage is featured on HKL's Game of Death disc it would be very expensive (mine cost £37 from www.cdjapn.co.jp) and probably unneccesary.

Rating out of 5: