The Clones of Bruce Lee (Review)
The Clones of Bruce Lee
Directed by Joseph Kong Hung (as Joseph Velasco)
Bruce Lee’s death was a tragic affair, a life cut short in its prime. It also became a vehicle for many unscrupulous people to make a quick buck, and soon Bruce Lee exploitation films began popping up all over. Bruce’s death at the height of his popularity both made martial arts films a big deal, but then stagnated them with the plots of his biggest hits. Many films followed the Enter the Dragon plot line, or borrowed elements and threw “Dragon” in the title somewhere. People ate this stuff up.
Many of the Brucesploitation films were packaged as pseduo-sequels to the big Lee hits, where certain “Lee-alikes” took up the mantel of Bruce Lee. Another group of Brucesploitation films worked their magic on the mystery of Bruce Lee’s death, with things ranging from conspiracies, ninja assassins, secret organizations, faking of death, and biopics (including one costarring Bruce Lee’s alleged mistress and owner of the apartment he died in, Betty Ting Pei, Bruce Lee: His Last Days.) Other Brucesploitation efforts were just plain wacky, being totally ridiculous farces. The Clones of Bruce Lee fits more into this group, as does Bruce Lee Fights Back From the Grave and Dragon Lives Again. The final group of Brucesploitation films were just films with Lee-alikes that were retitles to make you think it was Bruce Lee and not Bruce Li or Bruce Le. Bruce Li in New Guinea is a good example of this. A good overview of the main Leealikes can be found here, four of them are in this film!
The Clones of Bruce Lee is a silly film. Forget silly, it is downright insane! The only thing that could have made it more crazy if is there were robots. We have a mad scientist, cloned Bruce Lees, cloned Bruce Lees that look nothing like Bruce Lee, secret agents, evil movie producers, bronze fighting men, random gangsters, laser bars, Bolo Yeung, lots and lots of female nudity, weird edits, compulsive grass eating, giant blinking computers, a Leealike who isn’t one of the clones fighting with two clones, and did I mention lots and lots of female nudity? This movie rules.
Produced by Dick Randall, who also helped bring to America Weng Weng in For Your Height Only, Challenge of the Tiger, the Italian film The Castle of Frankenstein, the Spanish Supersonic Man, and Jim Kelly’s Death Dimension. Director Joseph Kong Hung directed at least 6 other Brucesploitation films, and “Executive Directed” Bruce Li in New Guinea (whatever that means!)
Bruce Lee is brought to the hospital. To let the audience know it is Bruce lee, we are told several times, probably because the guy looks nothing like Bruce Lee. But we all know what will happen to poor Bruce Lee. Mr. Colin of the SBI (Special Branch of Investigation, some secret British organization due to the picture of the Queen in the office) calls Professor Lucas, and the two head to the hospital where Bruce Lee died not 20 minutes earlier. Professor Lucas takes a vial of blood, and you know he is up to no good.
Bruce Lee shows up for real in photographs and stock footage used in fake news reports announcing his death, they even include a photo of Bruce lying in the casket. Classy! Enough of that jazz, let’s bring on the insanity! Professor Lucas has made 3 clones of Bruce Lee, ignore the fact that they look nothing alike or like Bruce Lee and just go with it. Professor Lucas has one of those giant computers with lots of blinking colored lights that look so cool but don’t exist in real life. I want one. I will be installing all sorts of Christmas lights on the side of my computer just for fun. Professor Lucas wakes up the Three Bruce Lees one by one, but he starts with 2, then 3, then 1. Way to go out of order, Lucas! What are you, George Lucas?
You never see all three clones together, and wont until the end of the film. Even when all three were seen in adjoining tubes, one of the faces is fogged out and not seen. They had an imitation imitation Bruce Lee, which is hilarious. The clones must be trained in the martial arts, so let’s get started! What better music to train to than the Rocky theme! Bruce Lee #1 trains by himself with a girl and a Mustached trainer (played by actor Kong Do aka Tao Chiang), while Bolo Yeung Sze trains Bruce Lee #2 and #3. Mustached trainer teaches five techniques – dragon, tiger, snake, panther, and crane. No mantis? The training scenes are long, but filled with kung fu. That will be a motif for the entire film, long fight scenes but lots of action in those scenes. It stretches the plot and lets the actors show off their skills.
Training is complete (they became kung fu masters faster than Luke Skywalker became a Jedi knight!) and Bruce Lee #1 sent to get rid of Chai Lo – a producer who appears religious but is really an evil dude and his film studio is a front for a gold smuggling racket. Bruce #1 is to infiltrate and then destroy. Chai Lo is played by Leung Siu-Wa, and he sits in as Bruce Lee #1 shoots some scenes for a film. The director has a cross-eyed assistant played by To Siu-Ming, who was also a cross-eyed guy in Bruce Li in New Guinea. He must specialize in cross-eyed roles.
Chang, the director, reveals to Chai Lo that they haven’t checked Bruce Lee #1 out yet. Chai Lo thinks he might be an agent, so instead of checking him out, they just decide to kill him. I guess that saves money, but if they kill all their actors they will never finish their films. Unless they use a Brandon Lee-style digital double of this Bruce Lee clone…
Two goofy-looking white guys named White Panther and Quick Tiger are sent to ambush Bruce Lee #1 at the beach, who is there for reasons unknown. They are beaten up, because they are just random goons despite getting a name drop. Bruce Lee #1 is storming the office, while Chai Lo and the Director Chang come up with a plan to have Bruce Lee #1 shot while filming a scene in the movie…holy life imitating art, Batman! Then they will capitalize for years off his death…wait a minute!!! This film is becoming a 90 minute documentary about irons!
Wing Chow and Pei Ming will be sent that night to kill him, though, and Bruce Lee #1 overhears, so is ready for them and defeats them. Why bother naming these dudes if they just get defeated so easily? At least give them gimmicks like whips, cat masks, green hair, baseball uniforms… Chai Lo decides to remove some buried gold on the very day that they will ambush Bruce Lee #1 on camera, right over a hill. Bruce Lee #1 ends up in the fight of his life (second life) against a bunch of dudes with swords. Bruce Lee #1 beats all these dudes, then runs to the ship that Chai Lo is trying to escape on, swims aboard, beats all the goons on the ship, and then beats up Chai Lo! Bruce Lee #1 is one tough cookie.
Bruce Lee #2 and Bruce Lee #3 are meeting with Mr. Colin and Professor Lucas, they are given orders to go to Thailand and take out Dr. Nai, a scientist who has gone mad and is making drugs. Wait until Bill Nye finds out Dr. Nai is dirtying the name of scientists whose names are pronounced “Nai”! They meet up with local SBI agent Charles Lee Sing in Bangkok, and we go on a big tour of Thailand. A long tour. Okay, movie, we believe you that we are in Thailand, get on with the plot! Bruce Lee #2 is taken to the beach by Charles Lee Sing and we see…naked chicks! Lots of them! Dancing! Frolicking! Naked! This is the best movie ever. The girls snag an onlooker and swarm him, he is done for…a victim of sexual lust. They will use him up and drain him dry. Bruce Lee #2 and Charles Lee Sing leave the man to his fate and decide to finally get to work locating Dr. Nai. And maybe finding out where Bruce Lee #3 wandered off to…
Bruce Lee #3 stayed at the hotel, but there is still a naked chick in his bed, she won’t say who sent her, and after he kicks her out tries to kill him with a knife. Agent Charles saves him. This naked chick was the best looking of all the naked chicks in the film. The two Bruces and Chuck spy on a shipment of drugs, attack, and a large fight ensues. The three beat up a bunch of Thai extras I would probably recognize if I was more familiar with Thai action films from the 70’s. There are also Hong Kong stuntmen mixed in with the rest, some of which are the same stuntmen working for the gold-smuggling movie director, and they will show up again as working for Professor Lucas when he turns evil. Spoilers, there.
After defeating the first level of goons, the next level begins, with twice the number of random goons. This is like a video game with each progressive stage having more and tougher foes. Inside Dr. Nai’s compound, his chief researcher (who looks far too goofy to be a researcher) is ecstatic that their new chemical creation can destroy vegetation instantly. Yes, they have invented weed killer! And Dr. Nai laughs because it will allow him to conquer the world. Dr. Nai is very optimistic. Or maybe we should keep a closer eyes on the guys who make Roundup… Dr. Nai declares the scientists must work faster and get more results. Dr. Nai will also make bronze soldiers! Who are bronze! And soldiers!
Dr. Nai gets word of the attackers, and immediately knows it is the SBI because they fight like Bruce Lee. He escapes out the back, while the researchers get beat up by the Bruces and Chuck. Bruce Lee #2 tortures the lead researcher with a beaker of red stuff, the researcher acts like it is acid or something, then Bruce Lee #2 kicks him. Later, the two Bruces talk about how they almost had Dr. Nai. I guess they couldn’t be bothered to look out the back door.
Dr. Nai has a factory up north, he is headed there now; so Chuck and the Bruces will follow. Dr. Nai is injecting random dudes with what looks like pee and it turns the into Bronze men – which means guys with bronze colored paint. Beating these bronze guys just makes a clanging noise, as their skin is now made of metal. Dr. Nai relaxes with the naked chicks who hang out at his pad, one is the hot naked killer chick from before, and another dances as the censor goes razor-happy and cuts out lots of random spots, so we are denied full frontal.
Bruce, Bruce, and Chuck arrive and fight the Bronze guys (this is the next level in the game!) They fight for a while, then realize they aren’t hurting the Bronze men and run off to find a way to defeat them. We seem to have jumped to a new movie, because now a mom is making a meal for her kids, and for some reason has a bunch of poisonous grass lying next to the food pot. Responsibility is not her strong suit. A random Bronze guy attacks the two Bruces and Chuck who are nearby, the family sees the whole thing. I think that the Bronze guy is supposed to be the kidnapped father of this family, but the dubbing doesn’t allude to this at all (I suspect this from watching the facial expressions) and in the fight, the Bronze guy falls on the poisonous grass and eats it for some reason, then dies instantly.
Each of the three agents get a small bunch of grass and go on the attack. They just put the grass near the Bronze men’s mouths and the dumb sods scruff it down, despite seeing their comrades die from it seconds earlier. Pavlov could write a whole book on these Bronze knuckleheads. Or maybe they all want to die after being transformed and do it willingly. That is rather tragic, but makes the movie better, so I will go with that as opposed to the Bronze men being beyond moronic. Dr. Nai is waiting for the three agents with a whole group of Bronzers, he says “So. We meet at last. Kill them!” Wise words from Dr. Nai. The Bronzers get beaten, and Dr. Nai begs for his life, but Bruce Lee #2 kills him dead.
Professor Lucas is congratulated, but secretly he is mad with power and raves about how only he can control the three Bruces, but he only wants one of them, the most powerful. So he will force them to fight each other. He sounds like Torgo while ranting. Doesn’t he know that three Bruces are better than one? Bruce Lee #1 and #3 are now ordered to fight each other. Professor Lucas’s assistants Nurse Cathy and Nurse Nancy conspire to stop Professor Lucas, they must cut wires on the PA system. Before they can do that, Bruce Lee #2 is then ordered to attack the others. I though we would finally have 1 on 1 on 1, but instead we have except just #1 on #2, as Bruce Lee #3 has vanished. The wires are cut and the Bruce Lees are freed and told of Professor Lucas’s wickedness, so they vow to stop him.
Stopping Professor Lucas somehow involves Bruce Lee #1 fighting random street thugs. Bruce Lee #2 now fights random street dudes. In fact, the whole rest of the film is essentially a series of fights. Bruce Lee #1 must fight the Mustache trainer. Bruce Lee #3 has to fight some other mustache guy I don’t remember being in the film before. Bruce Lee #1 fights and defeats Bolo Yeung.
Professor Lucas has only one guy left, with weird beard and green, sickly skin, he looks like a dog and is played by Cheng Kei-Ying. Bruce Lee #3 is killed by a laser trap set by Professor Lucas, so we are a Bruce Lee down! Sound the alarm! Bruce Lee #2 smashes through wall to fight the Professor, but has to fight the sickly dog guy. Bruce Lee #2 imitates his weird style (I think it is some sort of monkey style) and gets the upper hand and defeats him. Professor Lucas runs, but is arrested by Colin, and we end! Just like that! Hey, Bruce Lee #1 just sort of vanished there after beating Bolo, and Bruce Lee #3 sort of got a raw deal. So that’s the end of The Clones of Bruce Lee, the only movie about Bruce Lee clones who fight naked chicks, mad scientists, and Bronze guys. That should be a whole genre of its own!
Rated 8/10 (Dead “Bruce”, Mr. Ed, Poison, Doomed perv, Hot naked chick, Bolo!, Dog Boy, Surprised Nurse)
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