A martial artist first and foremost, but also a philosopher, Hollywood star and, not to mention, Hong Kong’s 1965 cha-cha champion, Lee was the man to give Chinese men balls, as one puts it here, yet Pete McCormack’s (2009’s Facing Ali) effort is more about Lee’s legacy than being a thorough biography.
I Am Bruce Lee instead considers his formative years, before shifting to examine Lee’s impact – on those around him, on martial arts and on those for whom his teachings are a blueprint for their lives (Manny Pacquiao models his hair after Lee).
I Am … shifts through his Lee’s younger years: his birth in San Francisco in 1940 before moving to Hong Kong at three months old and his trouble with the law and with gangs before returning to the US at 18, where he taught martial arts.
MA was Lee’s focus – his means for expressing himself – and his move into film was never his intention. His interracial marriage – a rarity in 1964 – is only briefly touched upon, so, too, the ostracising he suffered on account of having Caucasian blood.
The film tells of Lee’s thirst for literature and philosophy, and his ‘no style’ form of wing chun, but the focus shifts more to his impact, with many debating his role as innovator and driving influence behind what would go on to become MMA.
This drive, while interesting and informative, renders the doco more about what others think of Lee than what Lee himself thought. As a result, it’s not quite a knock out.
Good for: Diehard Bruce Lee and martial arts fans
Starring: Bruce Lee, Linda Lee Cadwell | 15 | 95mins