Director: Lee Koon Cheung
USA - 1977
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.
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). In 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 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, 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 down 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 Rothrock....er, I mean
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 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?
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.
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.
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
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.)
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.