Friday, July 29, 2011

"Goodbye, Bruce Lee His Last Game of Death"(1975) d/Lin Pin, Harold B. Schwartz

"...He uses every human capability, with a fingertip sensitivity... His kung fu courage set in motion, it is a massive dynamic explosion!" Cue: wah wah-heavy disco guitar riff. Yeah, from the funky opening strains of the title song(the aptly-titled "King of Kung Fu", as sung by a man simply named Candy) the viewer should automatically realize what he's in for in screening tonight's review, a tastelessly grimy Brucesploitation cash-in vehicle for Taiwanese karateka Ho Tsung Tao, who toiled thanklessly throughout a career in countless low budget grindhouse rip offs as 'Bruce Li', certainly the most prolific of the many Bruce Lee imitators out there, for whatever the hell that might be worth to you.Sadly, what few decent movies exist in his filmography(Bruce Lee:The Man, The Myth(1978), Dynamo(1978), Edge of Fury(1978), and The Lama Avenger(1979) are a few I can think of atm) tend to get buried underneath the massif of exploitative deuces he had the misfortune of signing on to appear in, like 1977's Bruce Li in New Guinea where he's forced to trade kicks with extras in shabby gorilla suits.
In regards to tonight's entry, the film's producers opted for groovy seventies wear, hastily painted plywood sets, and inept fight choreography over upright martial simians.They probably should have gone with the kung fu apes instead.Three years before Golden Harvest would build a rotten cut n' paste B movie with lookalikes and doesn'tlookalikes in Elvis sunglasses and crepe wool beards around the sloppy test footage Bruce Lee shot for his 'Game of Death' idea, German production company Atlas International also tried to bring Lee's multi-level pagoda full of different martial arts masters idea to fruition with Goodbye, Bruce Lee, but as you'll read(or see, if you've the guts!)here, it didn't work out too well.At all.Towards!
Lee(Ho Tsung Tao) shows off his impressive flexibility, which ranks somewhere between 'petrified wood' and 'block of titanium'.
We first see Lee(Bruce Li) showing off on gymnastic rings and a pommel horse in a cheap attempt to impress his girlfriend that draws smiles out of the girl.Maybe if his stunt double was more proficient at gymnastics he'd have scored some kisses.After completing an atrociously choreographed fight scene(there'll be a lot of these, mind you), he is approached by Lin and Cho, two producers who explain that they'd been working on a film with Bruce Lee until his sudden, untimely death, and over some quick cut, dimly lit profile shots of Li(reinforcing just how little he resembles Lee afterall), that he was meant to finish the motion picture for them, as he's the natural replacement for the fallen kung fu star.The young man promises to get back to them, after he's pondered the project thoroughly, and changed his gaudy seventies outfits(looks like Charles Nelson Reilly was wardrobe manager on this movie) several more times.After Lee and his gal are randomly harrassed into more sloppy fights by several groups of unrelated pedestrian non-martial artist guys for no apparent reason whatsoever, they sit down to screen the unfinished Bruce Lee film with the producers.The film-within-a-film, involving a package stuffed full of cash as handed over to Bruce Lee(translation:Bruce Li, who's playing both the star and the imitator, and looking no different as either) by a dying Chinese who's been given a martial reprieve from a slow mo labonza-shanking by a gweilo.It just so happens that the cash is much coveted by no less than two triad gangs.I sense some more atrociously choreographed fights on the horizon.
"Meathead" has had enough of your bigotry and chauvenism, Arch.
After a piss-poor Kareem Abdul Jabbar wanna-be lankster tries to gaffle the box off of Bruce, his squeeze is lifted by The Far East Trading Co.(translation:bad guys), which is headed by the pompadoured Boss K(Fei Lung), who's decked out in such gaudy red turtlenecks, bell bottoms, and leather trenches he might as well have been named Pretty Tony.All he's missing is a stable of baaad bitches.K takes Bruce's arm candy to the 'Tower of Death'(translation:brightly painted particle board set for interiors, Chung Hsing Tower for exteriors) where he'll have to fight his way through various 'opponents'(I use this term very lightly here) to the top to gain her freedom and bring this muddled mess to a close.On the first level, he easily defeats two lethargic karatekas of little skill.Reaching the second level, he uses his legendary teleportation kung fu(?) to blink himself a la 'I Dream of Jeannie' all around a non-Japanese looking samurai, thus driving him pazzo, wildly chopping air with his tanto in the process.After dispatching a Korean practitioner on the third level, he's faced with a dirty-looking white guy with a beer belly in nut hugger shorts on the fourth.The fifth level brings Mao Shan, of Five Shaolin Masters(1974) fame, only he's decked out in Hindu gear and ass-bouncing across the floor from a lotus position.One sloppy fight later, Lee faces off against a black boxer who would have been better served carrying spit buckets for Mickey Goldmill.Finally, at the top, Lee goes head to head with Boss K, whose whipping technique proves no match for the clumsy nunchaku work of the impostor in the famous yellow and black tracksuit.As Lee is reunited with his dame, we're taken to the end titles by Candy's disco theme for what seems like the hundredth time.You can just imagine Lee Jun Fan slowly spinning on that rotisserie in Hell over this one.
"Exciting movie?!!?Whoa, stop right there, this doesn't qualify!"
It's almost ironic that a Z-grade Brucesploitation craptacular like this would receive a widescreen remastering and special dvd treatment from a company like Anchor Bay(!!!), when it's probably not even worthy enough for placement in one of those 20 kung fu movie collection tins you find on a five dollar sale rack at K-Mart.If the sub-par fights, embarrassing fashions, annoying disco title track, and dodgy plot don't draw you in, though, this might: the ADR for the 'Boss K' character is unmistakable, as provided by none other than apex silver screen baddie, David Hess!Worth a look for Bruce Lee exploitation fans, Krug Stilo completists, and lovers of rotten chopsocky cinema everywhere, Goodbye Bruce Lee merits a single wop.It's a lot like your kung fu.It doesn't look that hot.
They couldn't have matched up the nunchucks and the track suit? C'monnnn.


Anonymous said...

Ho Chung Tao doesn't need a stunt double for gymnastics, he was a gymnast before becoming a stuntman, and became a gymnastics teacher in Taiwan after retiring from cinema.

beedubelhue said...

"Maybe if his stunt double was more proficient at gymnastics he'd have scored some kisses."

Just being funny there, Anon, but thanks for the insight on Ho.


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