DVD Reviews \ The Young Bruce Lee

I know what will come after these reviews, so I'll cut to the chase. I like getting new Bruce Lee stuff on dvd just as the next fan, however, I will not pamper to anyone. I will call it as it is. I cannot garnish poo with a cherry on top and call it something else. Poo is poo, whatever the state. So, I'll say it now. I consider the new dvds poo. Here's why.

Picture Quality of feature

This is just awful. We've all seen this documentary before, and was released most recently in the UK as the Little Dragon collection. Yes, the film print is old, but that aside, whereas the UK release was mastered in a high bit rate, despite the age of the film, it was at least watchable. Here, with VideoAsia, they seemed to have used another source. The picture is so bad, it seems to be from a VHS source. Like the UK version, you can see the end copyright notice, and it reveals the source to be from CBS-FOX video. Remember them? They are defunct now and one has to wonder whether the documentary is actually in public domain now. If you like this documentary, get the UK version. The picture is better, without grain and doesn't look as if it came directly from VHS, which the VideoAsia version most certainly does. Audio is fine for both versions, though the UK version sounds more crisp and clearer. By the way, the two versions are not the same. The VideoAsia version has for some strange reason tacked on the US trailers for the Fists of Fury, The Chinese Connection and Return of the Dragon in the movie. So firstly, as you watch the documentary, at around the 1 hr 23 minute mark, the Fists of Fury trailer cuts in. It comes out again and the doc resumes. Then after a few minutes, the Chinese Connection and Return of the Dragon trailer cuts in, and then the doc resumes. Totally bizarre.

Audio commentary by Jesse Glover

Commentary is a misnomer really, as Jesse's thoughts about Bruce hasn't anything to do with the doc itself. It lasts about an hour and 22 minutes, and though it may seem a good enough reason to get this disc, it has to be said the Audio Quality is practically unlistenably awful. It seems to be recorded in a large studio of some kind, though what comes to mind is the effect you get when you speak in a very large toilet - all echoes and distorted, badly. A cheap audio tape seems to be used for recording and nowhere near the commentary you expect from the usual dvds. Bad, just bad.

Remembering Bruce Lee - A tour of Seattle by Jesse Glover

Home-made video, which means hand held camcorder and a drunken guy with no video experience. The picture goes everywhere and is rather disorientating, close-ups, zoom ins and outs every few seconds. The stuff we all do when we first get a camera. The picture and sound quality is very good, though of course, given the raw material, it's badly edited together. Jesse does not appear in the doc. Jesse is informative, and a good guide for the location hunters. Other than that, it has little going for it. It doesn't even have wide, estabilishing shots to give a sense of location. Jesse is fine here, the videomakers are not.

Bruce Lee's Ancestral Home Tour with Chaplin Chang

Audio voice over by American guy, and English dubbing of Chinese dialogue by dodgy, English bloke. Although much better, and more professionally edited, the footage is still shot on home camcorder and handheld. This feature is both informative and well put together.

Footsteps of the Dragon, with narration by Jesse Glover

Basically, a demo reel with Tommy Carruthers. The picture is once again, awful. Over exposed and so bright, guy's faces and arms blend into the white walled background.This is a real shame because Jesse talking about Tommy and seeing him in action is really fascinating in terms of seeing JKD in action. Carruthers is definitely someone to check out: fast, agile and powerful. The guy looks that good.However, the feature is short, and we never hear Tommy speak for himself whilst teaching, and Jesse's narration is only for about half the feature.

Bruce Lee's TV Demonstration

Basically the Milton Berle footage, but with major differences. The footage is cut, and not the full version. Scenes involving Adam West are the ones mostly gone. The picture quality is something to behold. It's not just awful, it's a travesty. The source is VHS, the tape wear and damage on the lower half of the picture attests to this. However, the source is NOT a direct transfer from VHS, but rather from video of a televison picture of the footage. What we see is like watching television, twice. complete with reflections of the room's curtains and some bloke walking about in the background. Incredibly bad, laughably so. If anything you should get the disc just to see this. Also, the audio is the recorded television's audio, but turned so low you cannot hear anything apart from muffled noise. If you listen carefully, you can hear the person in the background walking about.

Leo Fong Interview

Basically an unedited video of Leo talking for 6 minutes. Picture is sharp but goes from a green tint to a red tint every few seconds, most notable in close-ups, of which there's a large amount of. It's like Leo's turning into the Hulk and then getting embarrased about it.The footage , or some of it, has been seen before, in either Top Fighter or Death By Misadventure. The audio is low, very low. Speaker volumes need to be adjusted for this.

In fact the whole of the disc's audio is unbalanced, and whereas the Menu music is loud and fine, like Jesse's Seattle tour, other features are so very low you have to adjust the volume greatly just to hear what's going on.

All in all, a very bad disc.

Rating out of 5: