May 22, 2006


BRUCE LEE & I region 3 DVD coverIn 1973, when Bruce Lee died on the bed of his alleged mistress, Betty Ting Pei, he had only completed four movies and shot a fair amount of a fifth, GAME OF DEATH. But after his death he would be responsible for a gob-smacking number of films - there were at least seven Bruce Lee clones churning out dozens of documentaries, unofficial sequels, and knock-off films for a full decade after he was in the ground. A veritable tidal wave of Brucesploitation would swamp the world like a flood of filth but by far the strangest and sleaziest was Betty Ting Pei's contribution to the genre: BRUCE LEE & I.

Made by Shaw Brothers, who had no love for Bruce since he had been working for their increasingly successful rival, Golden Harvest, and starring Danny Lee as Bruce Lee and Betty Ting Pei as Betty Ting Pei, BRUCE LEE & I supposedly tells the true story of how Bruce really died. It was a project initiated by Betty Ting Pei and it is a stunning combination of sleaze and sanctimony.

Shot in eye-searing Shaw style where no sofa is complete unless its radium green upholstery clashes with its interplanetary purple throw pillows and the arterial blood red shag carpeting on the wall behind it, BRUCE LEE & I is a mod graveyard for everyone's innocence. Reject your received notions about Bruce and Betty because the real story is stranger than you think.

The flick kicks off when Bruce shows up at Betty's apartment that fateful night and they make love, sweet love. Bruce Lee is a martial artist so powerful that he can turn invisible and pleasure Betty telepathically, causing her nude body double to writhe and moan like an alley cat in heat, even when he's not in the room. Then, like magic, he materializes on top of her, a towel carefully arranged so that no one catches a peak of eye-blasting man ass, and he tokes up, pops pills, and turns invisible again, sending Brillo-haired Betty into paroxysms of pleasure. She goes to take a shower but, the second her back is turned, Bruce dies. Now Betty is an outcast. The world hates her. Women in the supermarket lurk by the evaporated milk and call her a witch. Mechanics stops rubbing greasy rags over their faces and run out into the streets to jeer her.

Finally she takes refuge in alcohol, guzzling brandy at a gay bar called The Back Door. With its padded walls, and carpet-sample decor, The Back Door is a place for Betty to destroy her brain cells with alcohol the way she destroyed Bruce Lee with lust, until the leather-vested bartender confronts her with reality like a glass of week-old VSOP cognac in the face: even gay bars have to close sometime. Go home, Betty. Go home.

But on her way out the front door of The Back Door a gang of Bruce Lee look-a-likes wearing tight jeans accost her. Not only do they have pictures of nunchakus on the backs of their t-shirts, but they have real nunchakus in their hands and they want to kill Betty for killing Bruce! But the bartender is a man of iron will and determination and he clears the bar, locking he and Betty inside. And then he makes a crucial mistake. Pouring a glass of the strong stuff he asks Betty, What...what really happened?

BRUCE LEE & IBetty was just a simple girl going to high school and dreaming of the movies. But because she was really a 30 year old woman pretending to be a 16 year old student the other kids rejected her and she had to fight them! But fighting gets her expelled. Loitering in the only place she knows, the local movie theater, she's approached by a sleazy guy who says he's a producer and he takes her upstairs to his office where he gets her drunk and takes nude photos of her. Betty's problem, as she later explains, is that she's so hot no one can see her as an actress...they can only see her as a porno actress!

In a surprising twist, it turns out that this sleazeball really is a producer and he tries to use Betty on a porn shoot taking place upstairs from the movie theater. Betty is horrified but he shows her the nude photos he took of her and explains that he'll blackmail her unless she does it. Appalled, Betty runs home and tries to kill herself, but before she can do it a talking candle appears and tells her that she is intended for great things and that she will one day meet a man, a man who sleeps on a trampoline, a man named Bruce Lee.

Time passes, outfits change, and we're introduced to a song that will repeat throughout the movie with a catchy chorus that goes, "My hairstyle is unchanged for you..." And, indeed, the one thing Betty will not change for the rest of the movie is her hairstyle which is unfortunate because her head looks like someone glued Brillo pads to it.

In short order, Danny Lee shows up playing Bruce Lee at the height of his fame. As the talking candle promised, he does sleep on a trampoline, but despite his best efforts, Betty will not sleep on it with him. Bruce is also suffering from intense headaches that make him clutch his wig while the camera spins around sympathetically. As anyone can see, the headaches are caused by his pants which are too tight. Rarely has a movie been made with more male cameltoe than BRUCE LEE & I - Danny Lee's bifurcated scrotum gets so much screentime that it deserves above-the-title billing. But here's the real tragedy of Bruce Lee...he couldn't take off his pants. No matter what happens in this movie, Bruce Lee's tight trousers stay on. Crowbars, blowtorches, dynamite, nothing can pry the denim from his thighs. Even when Betty finally gives in and decides to put the "tramp" in "trampoline" with Bruce, they have pillow fights, they cuddle, they bounce, they roll around and giggle, her pants come off but...his pants stay on. Didn't anyone notice that his pants were killing him? Didn't someone stop and say, "Hey, this guy can't get any blood to his torso because his pants are too tight." The tightness of his trousers will eventually kill Bruce Lee but no one cared, and that's the tragedy.

There is a happy ending to this movie. It turns out that Bruce didn't die during drug-crazed lovemaking but while getting ready to make Betty the happiest woman in the world by getting her a part in GAME OF DEATH. He died on her bed because he was standing near it while she was in the shower washing her unchanging hairstyle. And here we all thought she was a mercenary gold-digger just out to shake Bruce Lee's corpse until some more money fell out, when all along she was just a misunderstood gal whose only crime was that she loved too much.

Back in the present, in The Back Door, the bartender looks like he wishes he'd never asked Betty what really happened since she shows no signs of shutting up. He gives a short, philosophical speech about how Betty has suffered more than anyone and that people should just leave her alone, and then he throws her out on the street and locks the door behind her. The last time we see Betty she is wandering on a highway that spirals up, and up, and up...to heaven. And there she, and Bruce, and the talking candle will finally be reunited and Bruce Lee

Can finally take off.

His pants.

(A Region 3 DVD of BRUCE LEE & I is available, as is an all-region, English-subtitled VCD)

May 22, 2006 at 12:23 PM in Reviews | Permalink


Now that is one hell of a review.

Posted by: adgy | May 22, 2006 12:37:12 PM

Sleaziest? Probably. Strangest? Have we all forgotten about "The Dragon Lives Again"?

Posted by: Bob Violence | May 22, 2006 1:25:36 PM

Truly, Betty Ting Pei's hair is the most horrifying thing about Bruce Lee & I.

Posted by: David Austin | May 22, 2006 3:19:32 PM

I have not forgotten THE DRAGON LIVES AGAIN, as if such a thing was even possible. I dream of one day buying the rights to it, and redubbing it with Clint Eastwood, Roger Moore, Max von Sydow, Frank Langella, Sylvia Kristel, Robin Williams, the Bruce Lee impersonator from the ENTER THE DRAGON extended version, and Takeshi Kitano providing the appropriate voices. A bit too late for Marlon Brando, but alas, it is only a dream anyway. Reality is not that cool.

"Why the hell are you all worrying? We're all here, aren't we? That's enough. What's more, we've got Dracula, and he can summon up all his zombies to help us, too! What's the problem?"

Imagine that, only with Clint Eastwood saying it. The thought warms my heart.

Posted by: Rhythm-X | May 22, 2006 3:47:22 PM

Dear sweet Lord I must own this movie. Here's hoping I can find it at Chiller next week.

Posted by: Rich Drees | May 22, 2006 6:46:38 PM

Haha. Is this for real?

Posted by: Rainbow | May 23, 2006 5:32:48 AM

bruce lee is one of my favorite martial arts legend and fighter in the whole entire universe. I worship him,I honor him and I respect him. Every time I see his videos and think of him I cry because i miss him just like his fans miss him. LONG LIVE THE MARTIAL ARTS LEGEND BRUCE LEE!!!!!

Posted by: eduardo camacho | Jul 12, 2006 10:08:59 PM

"Locking he and Betty inside"? Dude, basic grammar the pronoun object of a verb is either "him," "her," "us," or "them." One never says "lock he up in the jail"! Right? It's "lock him up in the jail"! Get it?

Posted by: brad | Jul 24, 2006 2:04:49 PM

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