Monday, December 12, 2011
TREASURE OF BRUCE LE (1980)
D: Chiang Sung. This a pretty juvenile, extremely cheeseball flick even by Bruce Le's (Kin Lung Huan) previously established low standards. What makes Bruce Le films so enjoyable are the fights, bad dubbing, ridiculous sound effects and Le's own contagious over-enthusiasic gonzo attitude. He's more fun to watch than practically any of the other Bruce clones because you can't take him seriously for a moment. The more respectable and less memorable Bruce Li (Ho Chung Tao) can most often be taken serious and has made a handful of actually decent films but they don't have the over-the-top, zero-production value vibe of a good ol' grade-Z Bruce Le rip off! (The sinister looking Dragon Lee is fun and has always struck me as a sort of eternally snarling Satanic Bruce clone).
Bruce is part of a tiny group of students taken into confidence by a white-haired Master and entrusted to learn the 5 animal styles of Shaolin (of course, Bruce is assigned to master the Dragon-style!) and safeguard a secret kung fu manual from the evil Japanese. The Master explains that the Japanese have already ripped off kung fu and turned into karate! Before the Japanese clan makes a first move, numerous zoom close-ups and music stings telegraph right away that one of of students is a 'plant' working for the Japanese.
Among the numerous training sequences and fights (all looking like it took a single afternoon to shoot), the Japanese attempt to steal the book! Eventually, Chan Sing shows up (he's actually top billed over Le!) and Bolo Yueng (ENTER THE DRAGON) is even enlisted. For some reason, these scenes feel like they are fragments from another movie just dropped into this mess since the expected confrontation between Bruce and Bolo or Sing never occurs! Practically all shot on sunny exteriors (it's cheaper to light that way!), there is a weird split face messenger (a sort of Ying/Yang character?) and a hot female Japanese intermediary (she must be the producer's mistress) who can't act and really does nothing to advance the plot. In the end, Bruce faces his fellow student and they duel inflicting a brutal barrage of animal styles on each other! Finally, Bruce retrieves the book.
The DVD quality is abysmal but perfectly suited for optimum enjoyment of this rock-bottom, under-80 minute sham effort. The sub-VHS quality (obviously ripped from an old Best Video EP mode VHS) is worsened by the complete lack of panning and scanning of the original scope image. Instead we get a locked scan of the middle third of the screen often giving us tips of noses during dialog scenes. Also, almost have the movie is complete out of focus! But that's nit-picking and entirely missing the point! Sorry. The real beauty of the film is Bruce Le's surreal, almost Tex Avery cartoon-style mini-Bruce. To his credit, Le is the only Bruce clone really ripped and physically similar to the real Bruce and has the kung fu chops to impress.
Bruce goes for the kill!
This brand X DVD (It says KUNG FU THEATER PRESENTS but there is no label or logo on the packaging) can be had for a few meager bucks at your local liquidation/discount dives and can soberly be recommended to only the most hopeless, chronically dire-hard Bruceploitation fans. Count me in! (on screen title: TREASURE OF BRUCE LEE)
Bruce Le meets VC co-editor at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival!
authentic Bruce Le autograph!