Bruce Lee chose to teach Wing Chun which he learned from the legendary Yip Man. This statement should be common knowledge at this point in time because there has been a crazy amount of Bruce Lee films over the years, most notably the Ip Man films which star Donnie Yen. In “I Am Bruce Lee” there is a famous interview where Bruce distinguishes his philosophy: “Empty your mind. Be formless like water… If you pour water into a cup, it becomes the cup. If you pour water into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be like water, my friend.” I am Bruce Lee follows the thoughts, insights and real life experiences of the people closest to him, and features some of the top sporting and entertainment stars of his time. At times, the film drowns Lee in praise (okay, okay we get it: he’s the greatest of all time), however, Bruce Lee may have been seduced by fame.
The bad thing about Bruce’s early death is that he was just starting to scratch the surface as a movie star, who knows what kind of great movies he would’ve gone onto doing if he didn’t die at such a young age. It is this tragedy that permits some celebrities from appearing in the film and making some outrageous claims. When Ed O’Neill points out that Bruce Lee wouldn’t’ve stood a chance against Brock Lesnar, or when Kobe Bryant gives us the downside of his celebrity side, it only infuriates an admirer of Lee’s. Most poignantly, maybe the only person whose opinion matters is Shannon Lee, his surviving daughter. She was a child at the time of his death, but, to her, Lee is a inspirational force of nature.
It’s more of a documentary than a movie and contains some old school footage of this true legend. Keep in mind, he was only 5’7″ and 135 lb, and so fast and so strong. The clips of his “one-inch punch” are astounding. His goddaughter Diana Lee Inosanto says, “He put balls on Chinese men.” Bruce films, the visual impact on the discovery of surprising and interesting life, and his martial arts, entertainment and the world beyond it is a legacy, and his untimely and tragic death at the age of 32 years. In summary, great new interviews and lots of relevant footage from more than forty years ago.
Fans of Bruce Lee, run out and see this film. Pete McCormack does a great job conducting the interviews and getting the maximum affect interspersing them among footage of Bruce Lee’s screen test. As far as his Real World abilities, no one mentions his in-the-ring boxing experience or his hand speed- which would’ve been THE determining factor in ANY street fight. Only Dan Inosanto points out that Bruce Lee’s cobra quickness would’ve brought ANY fight to a quick conclusion had he opted for a simple finger jab to the eyes. For those who are well-versed in Bruce Lee’s life there isn’t anything here that may be new to them, but to those who don’t know as much will find it a rich and educational documentary. The low point being the inclusion of MMA, but it is still excellent even in its imperfections.