Death by Misadventure starts of like every other Bruce Lee documentary out there. The first 30mins include clips from his early childhood films like "We Owe it to our Children", "Too Late for Divorce", "Wise Guy's Fool Around" and "Thunder Storm" They are all quite generous in length lasting over 10 mins in total.
Then we move on to Bruce's arrival in America and the birth of Jeet Kune Do. There's an interesting interview with Jesse Glover and Ed Hart, two of Bruce's students, who describe a fight they witnessed between Bruce and a Japanese challenger. This is where you get the first feeling that this isn't going to be as good a documentary as you first thought. Although the interview with Glover and Hart is good, it's inter cut with a dramatisation with Bruce Li showing what happened. Believe me people, this isn't an accurate crimewatch reconstruction. It just looks like a cheap and nasty Hong Kong flick. Other interviews include Jhoon Rhee, Ted Wong and Joe Lewis.
Now we move onto Bruce becoming a star with his first film The Big Boss. Now then, every documentary I've seen up until now shows actual footage of the films they're describing. Not this one my friends. The footage they show is more dramatisations with..... yes, you've guessed it, Bruce bloody Li. If you make an Elvis documentary you play songs sung by Elvis. What you don't do is pop down to your local karaoke club, grab the first person who could pass for Elvis in a dark room and have him screech out Jail House Rock..
It's the same for Fist of Fury and Way of the Dragon I'm afraid but there is an interview with Jon Benn, the guy who played the crime boss in Way of the Dragon. When it comes to the Game of Death 'dramatisation' I couldn't believe my eyes. Bruce Li is being chased round the room by a guy with a whip... A WHIP?????? Have they even seen Game of Death? I don't remember Bruce Lee defeating Kareem Abdul Jabbar then running up the stair to fight Indiana Jones!!!
When it comes to Enter the Dragon there's no Bruce Li thank goodness. Instead there's a fair bit of behind the scenes stuff that most people will have seen but it's still interesting to watch. Also in this section is an interview with Jim Kelly with a funny story to tell.
From here on it starts to get deeper into Bruce's death which is what the documentary is really about. Now prepare yourself people, for this section of the documentary contains a phenomenon which defies belief. Mulder and Scully are falling over themselves to get a hold of this unexplainable force. I am of course referring to Dr Peter Wu. The most boring man on God's green earth. This man could send a clubber who's tanked up on E's into a deep sleep. I'm not exaggerating... It took me 5 hours to watch this documentary. As soon as Dr Peter Wu opened his mouth I was out for the count.
Apart from this there are some very interesting points to be heard. There's an interview with Bruce's own doctor Dr Don Langford who goes into great detail about Bruce's death and also Bruce's first collapse while dubbing Enter the Dragon in May '73. Then we have an interview with George Lazenby who Bruce was going to include in Game of Death. The interview is followed by and account of what happened at Betty Ting Pei's the night Bruce died. According to Ting Pei, when she couldn't wake Bruce from sleep she tried to contact Raymond Chow. When Chow arrived they contacted Ting Pei's doctor THEN called an ambulance. Call me crazy if you like but if a friend of mine called round and passed out I'd call an ambulance FIRST. I wouldn't call his BOSS!!!
Clips of Bruce's two funerals are shown then the tape counter hits 1 hour 13mins and your in for a treat. A montage of Bruce Lee impersonators to the tune of 'King of Kung Fu.' What a catchy tune.. You'll be humming it for months.. There are clips of Bruce Le, Dragon Lee, Bruce Liang, Bruce Lung, Bruce Lim, Bruce Lo, Bruce Tai and finally Bruce Li. It's followed by an interview with Bruce Li who say's he hates to be called Bruce Li because he doesn't want to be compared to Bruce Lee. GOOD GOD MAN!!! You've made your living as a Bruce Lee clone now your saying you hate it!!! Yeah right!
The last 20 mins shift from Bruce to Brandon lee. There's interviews and film clips. When I say film clips I mean actual clips from his films. No dramatisations with Mark Dacasscos or anything like that.
I was disappointed with this documentary. It could have been so much better. However, scrap the dramatisations and the insomnia cure that is Dr Peter Wu and your left with a good documentary and an interesting look at the events of Bruce Lee's death which will get you thinking.
Rating out of 5: