Bruce Lee, We Miss You

Director: Lee Koon Cheung

USA - 1977

Hoff! Hoff! Hoff!


In the tradition of Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave, The Clones of Bruce Lee, and Bruce Lee Vs. Street Fighter Vs. The X-Men Vs. Party of Five, Bruce Lee, We Miss You is just another poor attempt to exploit the legend's name, and milk it for every possible dollar it's worth.

"Elian's grandmother asked him to do WHAT?!"Bruce Li (credited here as Lei Hsiao Lung) plays Stone, a martial arts teacher and a huge fan of Bruce Lee. One day, after class, a group of students bring a newspaper to Stone, the headline proclaiming that Bruce Lee has died. Stone, being the aforementioned Lee fanatic, is thrown into a state of shock over the news. Pao, his brother, realizing Stone's anguish, decides to take him out for a drink. After having quite a few too many, a belligerent Stone theorizes that there was foul play involved in Lee's death. Pao then takes his drunken brother to a friend's house to sleep it off.

That night, Stone is visited by the spirit of Bruce Lee (well, it was really just Bruce Li in another outfit - but I guess it served it's purpose). IFriends don't let friends drink and practice Death Touchn his vision, Stone confronts Lee, demanding to hear the details of his early demise. Lee only raises his hand, sending Stone reeling back to bed, and thus awakening him from his slumber. Though the conversation seemed rather vague and ambiguous (at least to me), Stone realizes that Lee wants him to investigate his murder, and uncover the truth. The next morning, Stone relays his intentions to Pao, and explains that because Lee's "death was violent, his spirit cannot rest." You know, Stone must really be proficient when it comes to reading between the lines, because I'm sure all Lee did was raise his hand.

Lee raises hand.

Stone: You died violently?!

Lee raises hand.

Stone: Your spirit cannot rest until the truth is discovered?!

Lee raises hand.

Stone: What is it, Bruce? Is it Timmy? Is he stuck in the well?!

Before setting out on his quest, Stone goes to the local abbot for some guidance. The sage informs Stone that in order to unravel the mystery, he must first prove himself as a kung-fu expert. Deductive reasoning, a keen observational eye, contacts on the streets - screw all that stuff! In order to be a good detective, you Five fingers, and two eyebrows, of DEATH!best be practicing your Drunken Hippo Fist! After testing Stone's kung-fu prowess, the abbot then decides to test his spirit, and sends Stone into the temple to meditate. During meditation, Stone is once again visited by Lee's ghost. This time, he envisions the actual altercation in which Lee is murdered.

Upon leaving the temple, Stone decides to begin the actual investigation, and the first step would be to question some of Lee's old acquaintances. So, Stone learns from some random guy on the street that Betty Tin, Lee's former friend and confidante, hangs out at the Dragon Nightclub on a daily basis. Stone goes to the club, and after saving Betty from the advances of a group of drunken thugs, she takes him home with her. Again, suave one-liners, a cool demeanor, stylin' clothes - it's all a bunch of malarkey; if you want to pick up girls, you best be practicin' your Drunken Hippo Fist! At the house, Betty fixes Stone a drink,Is it Bruce, or is it Memorex? then excuses herself to slip into something a little more comfortable. Immediately upon her exit, Stone shuts off the lights, and makes like he's going to ransack the place for clues - but instead, he merely takes his drink to the window, and watches the approaching storm (?). Betty then returns in a slinky, thong negligee (Ok, it was only a modest nightgown), and is shocked when Stone is illuminated by the lightning outside and she mistakes him for Lee. After being consoled, Betty is called by Hao Tao (Her friend? Boss?), who, after being told of her visitor and his remarkable likeness to Bruce, tells her to get rid of Stone immediately, for he may be trouble. So Betty, politely, walks Stone to the door, and they bid each other adieu. Walking home, Stone deftly eludes a tail sent by Tao, thus confirming he must be on the right trail. Tao, now realizing that he has underestimated this Bruce Lee look-alike, decides to resort to more subtle tactics to discover Stone's intentions - and enlists Betty as an unwilling accomplice.

After Stone ignores his various threats to keep out of Lee's affairs, Tao takes it to the next level and kidnaps Pao. After being confronted by Stone, Betty breaks Today on Fashion from Strange Lands: The Pine Cone Corsagedown and tells him where they are keeping Pao captive. Immediately, Stone runs to the hideout and springs his brother. Now realizing that he is putting not only himself, but also his family in danger, Stone decides to seek refuge at the temple for a while, and lay low until the heat blows over.

After a mere two weeks, the hiatus from his investigation has made Stone restless, so one night, he dresses like Bruce Lee, and runs around town scaring various members of Tao's gang into thinking Bruce is still alive. To what purpose this serves, I have absolutely no idea. Finally, though his methods are questionable, Stone actually discovers the identity of those who murdered Lee. It appears that the Bad Guys were trying to coerce Bruce into a fixed fight for the European title (?), and when Bruce refused to participate in these underhanded undertakings, they simply took him out. Stone, empowered with the truth and a burning desire for justice, sets out to punish the wicked for the crimes, thus allowing Lee's spirit to rest, and restoring the legacy of Cynthia, I mean Bruce Lee.

First, the good stuff - Bruce Lee, We Miss You has something going for it that many films of the "chop-socky" genre do not - a story that's actually coherent. Usually, kung-fu movies focus more on the martial arts, and little (sometimes"Of course I'm a bad guy, observe my total disregard for dental hygiene!" none) on the story. This, in some aspects, is how it should be - but when the story is completely nonsensical, as is often the case, then it makes the great kung-fu kinda pointless. The story in Bruce Lee, We Miss You is logical, and quite easy to follow. Not once did I have to start taking notes like, "Fung was dishonored by Lei, whose teacher was killed by Jei-Poo, who, come to find out, is actually Fung's sister's brother-in-law (twice removed)."

Unfortunately, a coherent story is about all this film has going for it. I don't know what specific brand of crack the editor was on when he cut this movie, but by the looks of things, he got his money's worth. During a majority of the fight scenes, I noticed several pieces that seemed to be missing - a punch, a kick - you really couldn't tell. You would see men falling, but were never made privy to the cause of the fall. I remember one scene in particular where I saw the same thing twice consecutively. How do you overlook something like that?

"Ruh roh, Raggy...ruh, ruh, ruh, RHOSTS!"Finally, the fighting sucked. There's no better way of putting it. The first, and most important (and I thought most obvious) rule of making a chop-socky flick is to have interesting fights. A coherent story is just dandy, but without some quality kung-fu action, you're missing the entire crux of the martial arts film. The target audience of the genre will put up with just about anything - guys who can jump into trees, ninjas whose weapon repertoire consists of vomit - but if you don't have some good fighting, then you don't have a successful kung-fu film. I don't know if it was the choreography, or the skill of the participants (to be honest, I've never been impressed by Bruce Li), but I constantly found myself fast-forwarding through the fight scenes. And when watching a movie which revolves around fighting - that proves to be quite a problem.

"You don't understand, Bruce - I *really* miss you!"


These are the times of which to cherish...


"You consider me your young apprentice..."

During his meditation at the temple, Stone envisions Bruce Lee practicing Kata over some candles. For some reason, I just couldn't get The Police's "Wrapped Around Your Finger" out of my head.

- Bruce Li's shameless mimicking of Bruce Lee's trademark fight noises - the howls, the yelps, the squealing, etc. It sounded kind of silly when Lee himself did it, but it was one of his trademarks. With Li, on the other hand, it just sounds silly.

"I'm gonna wash that Bruce right outta my hair.."

Whenever Stone recalls a message from one of his ghostly visits from Lee, it shows Bruce superimposed over Stone's brain. Because, in case you're an idiot, he's thinking about it.

- During a walk in the park, Stone attempts to entice Betty into learning some martial arts, to which Betty replies, "I'm a girl, it's no use." Then, after thoroughly disgusting feminists everywhere, the conversation turns to Betty's love life, where she divulges that she has never known the intimate touch of a man. The funny thing is, in the context of the film, it's played like that's a noble virtue of being a hero. Listen, if (involuntary) abstinence is the stuff of legend, then you can consider me your hero.

Well, at least it was more exciting than SPEED

After springing Pao from the Bad Guys' hideout, Stone ends up taking on some evil doers atop a moving bus. Again, though this could have provided for some quality tail-kickin', it just falls short of exciting. Especially since the bus appears to be going about 10 MPH. (This scene also includes the requisite ride over a bridge, bad guy gets thrown into the water.)

"I got an OW-EEE!"

During a flashback, Betty recalls the night Bruce died. Apparently, he showed up at her apartment, took off his shirt (exposing a mild bruise?), and then proceeded to thrash about on the bed for about ten minutes (in slow motion). If the filmmakers were really trying to honor Lee's memory, making him look a like an idiot (not to mention a wuss) was probably not a good idea.

Translation: THE END


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