Firstly, I have to admit that this 'film' had always escaped me until now, having picked it up cheap on Ebay. What a suprise it turned out to be. As everyone knows The Green Hornet was Bruce Lee's U.S. debut tv series that was itself a re-launch of an old 30's Radio. show.
The series had it's fans but not enough to save it from being axed after 26 episodes, however it was to live again via repeats and as two theatrical movies in 1974 & 1976 (Fury of the Dragon). The first of these took four episodes of the show and edited them together with added fight footage from other episodes.
The Green Hornet is very dated but fun. No attempt is made in the movie (nor it's original format) to relate how or why the Hornet and Kato(Bruce Lee) became crime fighting heroes and so from the very outset GH and Kato throw themselves into each segment with hardly any set-up narrative.
The episodes themselves are quite intresting involving a crooked club of 'White Hunters', a phony 'Invasion of Aliens'(watch Bruce take a blast of electric bolts!) masquerading as a plot to detonate a Hydrogen bomb and tangling with organised crime in Chinatown where Kato is first thrown in a trash-can(!) before getting his revenge.
The only problem is the producers decided to beef-up the action by adding fight footage from other episodes. It only works on a couple of occasions. Most of these sequences stick out like a sore thumb and in one ludicrous section a whole dialogue sequence (from the episode 'Beautiful Dreamer') is inserted which would make any viewer say 'huh?! what?!' as it has no relevence to anything that happened before or after!
Bruce always said that he hated his performance in the series, here I disagree as I think he put in a nice 'natural' turn that turned to 'ham' at times in his later films. Lee's pre-JKD Gung fu also looks realistic and powerful too! His co-star van Williams comes off pretty good also, being all charm one moment and convincingly ruthless as the Hornet.
Along with several other films these days, The Green Hornet is presented in a Widescreen edition (the series was made in the regular 4:3 tv format) therefore cropping some of the picture on the top and bottom of the screen. It looks good(not digitally remastered) though some of the scenes look 'grainy', possibly because Hornet may have been shot on 16mm film originally(tv standard in the 60's) and then 'blown-up' to 35mm for theatrical release.
Original, clear mono sound only.
There are several good special features that add to the value of the disc:
History of the Green Hornet (text).
Profiles of the stars (text).
History of The Black Beauty(text).
Two photo Galleries.
Black Beauty Featurette (about the restoration/gadgets).
Footage of the 'Corgi' Black Beauty model car.
Black Samurai promo trailer (All text features by the BBLA/Will Johnston, so very informative if long-winded).
As stated earlier, I was well suprised with this disc, so much so that I watched it's contents twice and if the 2nd compilation film 'Fury of the Dragon' is as good as this, I'll just have to have it!
Rating out of 5: