Bullet Points: The Clones of Bruce Lee
What is better than one Bruce Lee imitator? Two Bruce Lee imitators.
What is better than two Bruce Lee imitators? Three Bruce Lee imitators.
That had to be what the producers were thinking as they were developing one of the more bizarre films in the Bruceploitation Era, 1980’s The Clones of Bruce Lee.
- Alternative Facts: In the world of The Clones of Bruce Lee, after Bruce Lee was pronounced dead at the hospital a sampling of Bruce’s DNA is taken by Professor Lucas (Jon T. Ben, who worked with the real Bruce Lee in The Way of the Dragon). Lucas was recruited by a British intelligence agency known as the SBI to use the DNA of Bruce Lee to make clones of the legendary martial artist. If successful, the SBI will then take these Bruce Lee clones and send them out on crime fighting missions.
- Dr. Bruceploitationstein: The brilliant Professor Lucas manages to make three Bruce Lee clones. One by one, he awakens the clones… he starts with Bruce Lee Two (Bruce Le) for some reason, then Bruce Lee Three (Bruce Lai) and finally doubles back to Bruce Lee One (Dragon Lee). With each awakening speech, Professor Lucas’ tone seems more and more diabolical, like he has developed some sort of God complex after creating three perfect clones or maybe I’ve seen too many movies and imagined the diabolical tone… anyway now that the clones of Bruce Lee (DING!) are awake, they need to be trained to fight like the man from whence they came. There are two martial arts instructors tasked with training the clones. One of the instructors was played by a man named Do Kong, I was hoping this was short for Donkey Kong, but apparently the guy’s actual name is Tao Chiang, so I’m not sure why he was billed as Do Kong in this one. The other martial arts instructor was played by none other than Bolo Yeung, who worked with the real Bruce Lee in a little movie called Enter the Dragon.
- Mission #1: We are about to get three movies for the price of one as the clones are now trained and ready to go and the SBI hands out their assignments. Bruce Lee One is the first to get an assignment. He has to infiltrate a film company ran by Chai Lo. Lo is actually a gold smuggler and the film company is nothing more than a front. Of all the clones in the movie Dragon Lee is by far the best (probably why he got to be Bruce Lee One) but I thought this segment of the movie was actually the worst. The whole thing was rushed, the bad guys almost instantly suspect Bruce Lee One is an undercover agent and there was no time to properly build to a climax. Dragon Lee deserved better.
- Mission #2: Bruce Lee Two and Bruce Lee Three get to go to Thailand to stop a mad scientist named Dr. Nai. Nai plans on taking over Thailand and then the world and he has created an army of invincible steel men to help him accomplish his lofty goals. These men of steel are just a bunch of guys in their underwear covered in gold paint. When the steel men are hit, a great metallic clang sound effect is used. We eventually learn these “invincible” beings can be defeated when they eat a poisonous plants. Why these steel men feel the need to ingest these plants I am not sure, but lucky for our heroes they do. I would like to point out that Bruce Lee Two and Bruce Lee Three get some additional help on this mission, not from Bruce Lee One, but from a guy named Chuck Lee (Bruce Thai). I’m not sure where Chuck came from, but I guess we can assume he was an agent with the SBI. Bruce, Bruce and Chuck all wear the classic Bruce Lee glasses during this entire mission, in fact at one point after coming out of the shower Bruce Lee Three is wearing nothing but a pair of bikini briefs and his Bruce Lee glasses.
- Lucas with the Lid Off: The three clones of Bruce Lee return to Professor Lucas’ compound. The Professor is congratulated and thanked by the SBI for taking down two evil doers. Professor Lucas feels slighted by the SBI. All he gets is a hearty thank you for a monumental scientific breakthrough!?! It does seem underwhelming and Lucas’ diabolical tone that was being foreshadowed early on in the film is in full effect now. Professor Lucas, who has the ability to control the minds of the clones, instructs the clones to fight one another to the death so he and the most powerful clone can rule the world. Will the clones destroy one another or will the “monsters” destroy their maker? That is the question answered in the third and final act of the film.
The Clones of Bruce Lee jams a lot into its 91 minute runtime. After watching the movie, I felt like I watched a Kung Fu Theater marathon on fast forward. Released seven years after the death of Bruce Lee, The Clones of Bruce Lee exploited Bruce like no other Bruceploitation film I had ever seen. But even with a premise that was absolutely ridiculous, the movie was damn entertaining. And at the end of the day, that’s really what it is all about.
And at the end of my reviews, it is all about the Bonus Bullet Points…
- If You Ever: …wanted to see a topless woman get chopped in the throat by Bruce Le, then this is the movie for you.
- Dr. Nai, The Pervert Guy: The mad scientist Dr. Nai has three nude ladies who just hang out at his house and dance on command. Why plan on taking over the world if your life already includes three naked and obedient women?
- Gonna Fly Now: When the clones are in training a very familiar training song is used and I’m going to go out on a limb and say Bill Conti never received any royalty money from The Clones of Bruce Lee.
- The Real Bruce Lee: Early on in the movie in a newscast scene, that blew away any newscast scenes from the Death Wish movies, actual footage of Bruce Lee is shown, including footage from his funeral.
- Worth Mentioning: According to Bruceploitation expert Michael Worth, the Dragon Lee solo mission segment was originally intended to be its own movie, but the producers re-purposed the footage that was shot and used it in The Clones of Bruce Lee instead.