Uncle Jasper reviews: The Clones of Bruce Lee (1977)

The Clones of Bruce Lee [神威三猛龍] (1977)

Starring Bruce Le, Dragon Lee, Bruce Lai, Bruce Thai, Jon T. Benn, Bolo Yeung-Tze

Directed By Joseph Kong


If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then I guess that answers the age old question of how much flattery it takes to beat the shit out of an army of grass chewing bronze men … Ha! That’s right, three times as much! It’s 1977 now, a year after both of our previously reviewed films, and I guess a year is all it took to suck dry what little integrity there was left to begin with in Bruce Lee exploitation cinema.

Bruce Lee is dead and an urgent call is placed by the SBI (that’s the Special Bureau of Investigations to all you civilians out there). They need the blood of Bruce Lee, and they need it fast… It’s kind of disturbing that the government was lying in the wings, waiting for Bruce Lee to die so they could implement this master plan, but I guess when the world is threatened by the evils of gold trafficking, noble sacrifices must be made. A mysterious man known only as “The Professor” is contracted by the SBI to synthesize three clones from the salvaged blood. The three Bruces all take turns wearing a salad bowl on their heads as the professor prepares them for training. He christens them Bruce Lee 2, Bruce Lee 3, and Bruce Lee 1 (in that order).

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Mini-Review: Fela Kuti: Music is the Weapon (1982)

Fela Kuti: Music is the Weapon [Musique au poing] (1982)

Starring Fela Kuti

Directed by Jean-Jacques Flori & Stéphane Tchalgadjieff

Expectations: Very High. I love Fela Kuti.


Fela Kuti is one of my favorite musical artists. He created the Afrobeat genre and sound together with his band the Africa ’70 (and later the Egypt ’80). He seems to have entered more of the mainstream consciousness with the recent success of the Broadway musical Fela!, but the real heart of his music lies in Nigeria and the political struggles he faced there.

This film features a couple of live performances from Fela and the band, none of them full songs, but enough to allow you to get a sense of his personal style on-stage. The film also covers a history of Fela and his music, covering his trip to America where he met Black Panthers who inspired him to become more political in his own country. The problem is, if you know much of anything about Fela and his music, this documentary doesn’t offer much that you haven’t already heard. It’s not that big of a problem though, as any Fela fan will enjoy the live performances and the extensive interviews with Fela himself.

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Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Starring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, James Earl Jones

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Expectations: High. I adore Kubrick and I’d only seen this once before.


Stanley Kubrick is one of my favorite directors, but this film has always been something of an enigma to me. I only saw it once, about 10 years ago or so, and at the time I enjoyed it but I just didn’t think it was as amazing as everyone else seemed to think it was. It had been built up as one of the great screen comedies, but for me it didn’t deliver at that level. I got the satire, but it’s more of a slight smile throughout kind of movie, instead of a raucous laughter kind of movie. I was really into Billy Wilder comedies at the time so I guess subconsciously I went in expecting something in that vein. This time around, obviously, I knew what I was getting myself into. That helped quite a bit and my second viewing of Dr. Strangelove was a much more pleasant experience.

The plot follows three separate but connected stories. There’s the story of Gen. Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) who orders his planes to commence “Wing Attack Plan R.” There’s also the story of the B-52 Bomber crew on their run towards their target inside Communist Russia. Finally, we have the War Room, where the President and many top advisors, including Gen. Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) argue the fate of the world. The plots are skillfully intertwined and perfectly play off of one another. Sterling Hayden is fantastic and reminds me a lot of Clint Eastwood in this cigar-chompin’ role. I’ve always felt that he is one of the great actors that doesn’t get enough credit these days and his performance in Dr. Strangelove is one of his best.

Continue reading Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) →

Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)

Starring Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis, Roger Rees, Amy Yasbeck, Avery Schreiber, Dave Chappelle, Tracey Ullman

Directed by Mel Brooks

Expectations: Moderate. I love Mel Brooks but his later period stuff generally leaves me a bit wanting.


I wanted to like this movie, I really did. I decided to watch it because I have no interest in the new Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe version, but I thought it might be fun to get on the Robin Hood train anyway. At a base level I did like it, but that just isn’t enough these days. I didn’t expect this to be anything great, but my past experience with Mel Brooks left open the door of hope and I took the plunge.

If you’ve seen any other filmed version of Robin Hood you know the basic story here. Specifically, if you’ve seen Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves you know pretty much the exact story. I happen to have seen that film dozens of times while I was growing up so I know it well. I recently re-watched it about a year ago, so it’s still fresh in my mind. That film didn’t hold up very well, and neither does the parody version. There’s definitely some great jokes here, but for every one of those, there’s five okay jokes to go with it. You’re left with a film that starts out pretty good, but never rises above the source material.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger (1976)

Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger [天皇巨星] (1976)
AKA Bruce Lee – The Star of All Stars, Find Bruce Lee!

Starring Bruce Li, Chang Yi, Ma Chi Chiang, Lu Chi, Tsao Shao Jung, Kang Kam

Directed By Lee Tso-Nam


Of all the Bruceploitation films, I don’t think any makes a more audacious attempt to validate itself than Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger. The film opens up with Tiger (Bruce Li) visiting Bruce Lee on the set of his latest film. Lee seems very troubled by strange phone calls he has been receiving recently and names Tiger his successor in case anything is to happen to him. So there you have it, Bruce Li hand picked by the little dragon himself. It’s a pretty shameless act of self-promotion, but it’s fun as hell to watch Bruce Li and Bruce Lee (also played by Li… confused yet?) having a conversation across the screen from each other.

In any case, Bruce Lee dies the next day and we are treated to stock footage of his funeral. Tiger meanwhile is back in his homeland of Singapore honoring the life of his idol when he suddenly has an epiphany and quickly dismisses anything as boring as a cerebral edema as being the cause of his hero’s death. He takes it upon himself to investigate further and is swept into a ridiculously sensationalized conspiracy involving triads and drugs.

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Shaolin Intruders (1983)

Shaolin Intruders [三闯少林] (1983)
AKA Battle for Shaolin

Starring Yee Tung-Sing (Derek Yee), Jason Pai Piao, Liu Yu-Po, Phillip Ko, Chan Shen, Ku Feng, Lee Hoi Sang

Directed by Tang Chia

Expectations: High. Love Shaw Bros. films and this came highly recommended.


I watched this movie because my friend and colleague, Uncle Jasper, recommended this as a Shaw Brothers movie that featured some of the best fight choreography he had ever seen. As a huge fan of such things, I had to see for myself what he spoke of. Uncle Jasper was not pulling a fast one. This is hands-down, one of the best Shaw Brothers movies I’ve ever seen.

Directed by Tang Chia, longtime fight choreographer at Shaw Bros., the film exudes kung-fu energy. The opening titles run over a group of Shaolin monks going through their training exercises. There is a fight scene towards the end of the opening credits where all the monks use wooden benches as their weapons. It was so well choreographed and exciting to watch, a fantastic fight sequence, and we’re still in the opening credits! Director Tang Chia was fight choreographer on countless other Shaw pictures. His credits list goes on for days, culminating in his three directorial efforts: Shaolin Prince, Shaolin Intruders, and Opium and the Kung-Fu Master. If the other two are anything close to the awesomeness that is Shaolin Intruders, then they are also among the best the Shaw Studio has to offer.

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Broken Embraces (2009)

Broken Embraces [Los abrazos rotos] (2009)

Starring Penélope Cruz, Blanca Portillo, Lluís Homar, Lola Dueñas, Ángela Molina, Rossy de Palma

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Expectations: Very high.


Pedro Almodovar is quickly becoming one of my favorite writer/directors. This is the third film I’ve seen from him and he continues to amaze me. There is a power in his words and images that is hard to find in modern cinema. The story of Broken Embraces deals primarily with a retired film director (Lluís Homar) who has gone blind. The film also flashes back 14 years to the character of Lena (Penelope Cruz), a secretary for a wealthy businessman who aspires to be an actress. The film unfolds at a slow but interesting pace, gradually intertwining the two stories with skill.

The acting all around is excellent with Penelope Cruz and Lluís Homar leading the charge. The characters they play feel like real people, full of emotions and desire. The film jumps around in time a lot, but thanks to the wonderful performances this is never a problem. The acting reflects the subtle passage of time and you can quickly grasp where the character is at the current moment in relation to what you know of the character prior. This kind of free time structure can so easily work against a film, but Almodovar plays it with skill and it helps him tell a more interesting story.

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