At this point you could have a library of Bruce Lee’s work, and a library about films discussing Bruce Lee. Documentaries and films about Lee have become pretty much a sub-genre on to itself, with every decade releasing at least three new films about Bruce Lee and his legacy. I expect an Oscar level film about Bruce Lee any time soon, now. “I Am Bruce Lee” won’t shed new insight on Lee as a fighter or actor, nor will it really provide audiences with something new or enlightening about knowing Bruce Lee.
Basically “I Am Bruce Lee” is more of the same Bruce Lee love letters we’ve received for decades. Bruce Lee was a force of nature, Bruce Lee was a disciplined fighter, Bruce Lee sought success in Hollywood, he married the woman of his dreams, and he suffered a rather tragic death at a young age. And of course, he has influenced hundreds of people in their careers as athletes and actors, in general. One aspect of film that “I Am Bruce Lee” does she light on is the shocking fact that Hollywood still can’t view Asian American men as romantic leads or aggressive main stars in anything other than action or fantasy movies. Even years after Lee’s death, Hollywood still has an odd aversion from casting Asian men in more appealing roles. In either case, “I Am Bruce Lee” is another ninety minute love letter to the man known as Bruce Lee and how he connected with the world around him.
While accounts of his teaching celebrities to fight like James Coburn and Steve McQueen are explored, folks like Kobe Bryant and Mickey Rourke discuss how he influenced them as a whole. The shock of the documentary is that Ed O’Neill speaks in great length as a martial artist. I had no idea the man was a martial artist of any kind. Among the many interviews there is respect paid by Kobe Bryant who speaks Chinese in one portion of the interview, Ray Boom Boom Mancini, and Gina Carano. Amid the usual suspects, Linda Lee Cadwell speaks openly and passionately about the time with Bruce, and how their relationship blossomed, and Shannon Lee speaks about her experience with her dad and her time during his funeral.
There’s also interviews with Lee’s niece and brother, both of whom sob during recollections of his funeral; director Pete McCormack wisely ignores the conspiracy theories and sensationalism that Shannon and Linda Lee brush off with laughter and disgust, and there’s a very charming energy behind the respect paid. “I Am Bruce Lee” is more for folks who want to celebrate the force of Bruce Lee and aren’t very interested in hearing anything new or unique. At this juncture, there’s really nothing new you can learn, anyway. Among the extras in the Blu-Ray from Shout! Factory, there Backyard Training – Bruce Lee’s Personal Films, eleven minutes of uncut backyard training footage featuring Bruce Lee during his raw practicing, all in widescreen for audiences.
There’s the three minute Inspiration – Bruce Lee’s Global Impact, exploring the impact Lee had on martial arts and how Linda Lee and Shannon Lee practice martial arts as a whole. The four minute Bruce Lee In Action is merely a compilation of the best and most interesting fight scenes from Bruce Lee’s films and television shows, and the iconic Bruce Lee’s Hollywood Audition, in which he demonstrates and discusses his art form with producers for a role in Charlie Chan. He didn’t get the role, but it did lead to his role in “The Green Hornet,” and became one of the most watched pieces of raw footage during Lee’s career, which reveals his unabashed enthusiasm and charisma. Director Pete McCormack’s ode to Bruce Lee is a documentary and a biography well versed Bruce Lee fans won’t take anything new or unique away from. This is mainly just a movie celebrating Lee and everything he had to offer the world. If you want to kick back and bask on Bruce Lee glory for ninety minutes, “I Am Bruce Lee” definitely fits the need.