Color, 2024, 94 mins. 11 secs.
Directed by David Gregory
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

Color, 1980, 90 mins. 17 secs.
Directed by Joseph Kong
Starring Dragon Lee, Bruce Le, Bruce Lai, Bruce Thai, Bolo Yeung, Chiang Tao, John T. Benn,

Color, 1978, 87 mins. 10 secs.
Directed by Joseph Kong
Starring Dragon Lee, Bruce Lea, Bruce Lai, Samuel Walls, Barry Lam, Chang Li, Bolo Yeung

Color, 1978, 90 mins. 60 secs.
Directed by Joseph Velasco
Starring Bruce Le, Cheung Lak, Lam Kum Fun, Yang See (Bolo Yeung)

Color, 1975, 83 mins. 9 secs.
Directed by Lin Pin and Harold B. Swartz
Starring Lee Roy Lung, Ronald Brown, Big Jonny Floyd, Mung Ping

Color, 1977, 91 mins. 9 secs.
Directed by Lo Chi
Starring Bruce Leong, Shin Lung, Tong Ching

Color, 1979, 89 mins. 28 secs.
Directed by To Lo Po
Starring Bruce Li, Bruce Liang, Feng Ku

Color, 1980, 88 mins. 39 secs.
Directed by Bruce Le
Starring Bruce Le, Richard Harrison, Wang Jang Lee, Nadiuska, Brad Harris

Color, 1984, 91 mins. 29 secs.
Directed by Alphonse Beni
Starring Alphonse Beni, Bruce Le, France Lise, Arianne Kah, Emmanuel Tengna

Color, 1974, 93 mins. 26 secs.
Directed by Shih Ti
Starring Bruce Li, Yue Fan, Anne Winton

Color, 1976, 87 mins. 33 secs.
Directed by Singloy Wang
Starring Bruce Li, Caryn White, Betty Chen

Color, 1980, 87 mins. 3 secs.
Directed by Godfrey Ho
Starring John Liu, Tino Wong, Philip Ku, Dragon Lee, Bolo Yeung

Color, 1980, 89 mins. 47 secs.
Directed by Kim Shi-hyeon
Starring Dragon Lee, Carter Hwang, Martin Chiu, Sheila Kim

Color, 1976, 91 mins. 8 secs.
Directed by Chan Chor
Starring Lo Lieh, Wang Ping, Chan Wei Men, Bruce Le

Color, 1974, 88 mins. 3 secs.
Directed by Yang Che & Yang Yang
Starring Lung Tang, Ti Hua, Jack Robinson, France Tang
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)

Bruce Lee may not have Enter the Clones of Brucebeen the screen's first martial arts star by a long shot, but he was the one who popularized Enter the Clones of Bruceit on a global scale and became a pop culture icon that made the Asian-American an enduring phenomenon to this day. His sudden death in 1973 on the cusp of his biggest international breakthrough with Enter the Dragon triggered shock waves and uncountable conspiracy theories, as well as a wave of cinematic cash-ins that easily eclipsed the response to previous idols like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. Stories of unseen Lee footage fueled many of the films, while others made cult favorites out of Bruce Lee "clones"-- actors with enough martial arts skills to carry their own film and often christened with names that looked suspiciously similar to the deceased legend. These so-called Bruceploitation films, which ran well into the 1980s and found a new demand on home video, often went to some truly bizarre places, and that trend has finally been documented in front of the camera for the documentary Enter the Clones of Bruce directed by Severin Films' David Gregory. The greatest coup here is the fact that the film's interview sessions managed to loop in all of the major Bruce Lee imitators, some of whom had been elusive for ages, with many stories captured here for the very first time. The documentary's Blu-ray release (which is available individually) also serves as the masthead of sorts for a massive eight-disc Severin Blu-ray set, The Game of Clones: Bruceploitation Collection Vol. 1, which collects some of the Enter the Clones of Brucegreatest and craziest Bruceploitation films in their best possible presentations. Prepare to toss out a Enter the Clones of Brucelot of pan and scan copies!

Occupying the first Blu-ray by itself with plentiful extras is Enter the Clones of Bruce, which packs in plenty of material about how the strange craze began and evolved. Things kick off with a primer covering the ground broken before Lee with Shaw Brothers in particular churning out many martial arts classics, as well as Lee's career encompassing early childhood roles, his TV work on The Green Hornet, and the three full features he made while he was alive (The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, and Enter the Dragon). Then we're off to the races as we get to meet the holy quartet of Bruceploitation stars -- Bruce Li, Bruce Le, Bruce Liang, and Dragon Lee -- with lots of info about their real identities and backgrounds, as well as what was going on in their lives at the time and long after the films' heyday. Also on hand are the legendary Angela Mao, David Chiang, Phillip Ko, Godfrey Ho, and Sammo Hung, as well as context about the films' release in the U.S. from distributor Terry Levene and great bits about the insatiable French market featuring Stéphane Derdérian, René Chateau, Christophe Champclaux, and Christophe Lemaire. Also on hand here filling in all the necessary info are welcome names including Bruceploitation expert Michael Worth (who's basically the linchpin of this entire set and was previously a big part of Severin's Kung Fu Trailers of Fury), Mike Leeder, and Chris Poggiali. Along the way you'll marvel at the insane and sometimes ghoulish advertising tactics used to sell these films, not to mention finding out the Enter the Clones of Brucetruth about the notorious Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave and how its unforgettable opener was created. If there's an issue here, it's that the whole thing feels a bit Enter the Clones of Bruceshort at 94 minutes and leaves you wanting more. The film wraps up shortly after we get to the most legendary (and to some the most tasteless) Bruceploitation film of them all, 1978's Game of Death, which was built around 11 minutes of great Lee footage from his incomplete final feature, with actor doubles and a lot of other unconvincing tactics used to build a new story. It's basically the Plan 9 from Outer Space or Trail of the Pink Panther of martial arts movies, capping off a run of several Bruceploitation films that had imitators in yellow tracksuits trying to dupe folks into thinking they would get a look at this holy grail of Bruce Lee celluloid. The cycle still ran well into the '80s though, as you can see not only in the films in this set but in the huge popularity of 1982's They Call Me Bruce? that had plenty of Gen X kids clamoring to go to martial arts classes.

As you'd expect for a recent doc, the presentation here is immaculate with even the older film clips looking excellent almost entirely throughout. English SDH subtitles are provided, and a very lively audio commentary with contributions from Gregory, co-producers Frank Djeng, Vivian Wong and Worth and Director Of Photography Jim Kunz is recommended listening especially for the bits about how they tracked down each of the "Bruces" and the process of determining what to include and how to shape the narrative. The initial assembly of the feature was three hours (which would be a blast to watch), and you'll get a good idea of what was left out with three substantial collections of deleted material. "Working At Shaw Brothers" (19m21s) has extra bits with Godfrey Ho, David Chiang, Yasuaki Kurata, Lee Chiu, Lo Meng, Mars and Phillip Ko expanding far more on the early segment about the legendary studio's impact on martial arts films, while "Bruce Lee And I" (24m32s) has colleagues like Sammo Hung, Phillip Ko, Yasuaki Kurata, Mars, Angela Mao, Andre Morgan, and Lee Tso Nam filling in a lot more detail about the star's life and career as well as their own brushes with him when he was alive."The Lost World of Kung Fu Film Negatives" (15m59s) features Godfrey Ho, Joseph Lai, Angela Mao, Lee Tso Nam and many of the film experts from the main feature discussing the extinction of pre-print materials on far too many of these films, with storage conditions and moving rights holders muddying the waters for tracking down usable, complete elements. In "Bruce's Hong Kong" (27m27s), Frank Djeng gives an entertaining tour of familiar locations from Lee's films including key spots from Enter the Dragon, peppered with lots of info about how much has changed since then. Also included are three trailers and "Severin's Kung Fu Theater" (1m35s) with Worth and Gregory explaining how the project evolved from Severin's kung fu trailer compilation. As you'll see below, Worth also provides solo intros to all of these films (also branded as "Severin's Kung Fu Theater"), and he's terrific. It's very highly recommended that you watch each of his intros before the feature as the author, actor, and The Clones of Bruce Leeblack belt martial artist sets them up enthusiastically with all the info you need without The Clones of Bruce Leespoiling anything.

Disc two starts off as it absolutely has to with one of the most infamous films in the cycle, The Clones of Bruce Lee. Delivering exactly what you'd expect from the title, it opens moments after Bruce Lee's death as his body is wheeled into a hospital. Informed that the superstar has only been dead for twenty minutes, a scientist (Benn) has the brilliant idea of harvesting Lee's genetics to produce three clones to... uh, fight crime, because why not? Their missions involve fighting an army of bronzemen in jockstraps who get vegetation shoved in their mouths, as well as crossing paths with a topless beach romp present in the uncut version seen in this release.

A confounding experience, The Clones of Bruce Lee features some genuinely wild, enthusiastic fight choreography that's sabotaged by inept camera placement exposing countless missed blows. Of course, the real attraction here is getting three Bruce clones for the price of one (Bruce Le, Bruce Li, The Clones of Bruce Leeand Dragon Lee), all training and launching into action to one of the more amusing pirated soundtracks of the era. Not surprisingly, this was produced by busy exploitation The Clones of Bruce Leemaven Dick Randall who brought you Pieces and Don't Open Till Christmas, and it's had a long life on home video including VHS and DVD releases around the world in a variety of editions with varying running times (and many of them unauthorized). The source here for the Blu-ray is two prints, one Italian (featuring the title Bruce Lee: Il volto della vendetta) and the other German, resulting in the best and most complete presentation possible. The familiar English track is the one option here in okay DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono (as with every other title in this set except one), with optional English SDH subtitles provided. The film also comes with a new audio commentary featuring separately recorded contributions (thus not scene specific for the most part) from Worth, Djeng, Bruce Lee historian Brandon Bentley, Poggiali, The Clones Cast co-host Matthew Whitaker, Leeder, stunt coordinator/author John Kreng, and Rick Benn, brother of the film's star. At points the participants appear together in combinations of two or three, or they pass the torch from one to another, which makes the whole thing seamless and engaging with lots to offer about all of the Bruces in particular. "The Big Boss Remembered" (16m35s) is an interview/mini-documentary with actor Jon T. Benn at an acute care facility looking back at his career in Hong Kong, and it's a valuable addition as well. Finally the film wraps up with a Worth intro Enter Three Dragons(1m54s) and the English Enter Three Dragonstrailer.

Also on disc two is the earlier multi-clone rally Enter Three Dragons a.k.a. The Dragon on Fire, a cacophony of scene fragments and familiar stolen music involving random fights with a variety of Bruce Lee-esque martial artists fighting gangsters and practicing kung fu on each other. Bridges, docks, construction sites -- any available location in Hong Kong is fair game for a nonstop succession of combat sequences with the inscrutable dubbing leading to a lot of confusion once it gets past "Your kung fu is good." It's the usual story nonsense involving taking down some gangsters who are pulling off a jewel smuggling scam, or something, but it's fun to see Bolo Yeung pop here again after his training role in Clones and, as usual, Dragon Lee is a total superstar. Quality here is quite nice, taken from a 2K scan of the English 35mm interpositive from Televentures. Extras here include a tattered English trailer (as The Dragon on Fire, the same title seen on the main film here) and a Worth intro (1m59s).

On disc three we get into very direct cash-ins of The Game of Death, a title familiar to Lee fans long before it became a Enter the Game of Deathreality on the big screen. For example, Enter the Game of Death was ready to go out in '78 at the same Enter the Game of Deathtime as the real article. It's an obvious attempt to ape the overall original premise of Game, which focused on Lee fighting his way up a high-rise building through an escalating series of skilled opponents, except here we have Bruce Le doing the honors. The story has something to do with Chinese security trying to retrieve some stolen secrets at the dawn of World War II by sending a semi-reluctant recruit to punch and kick his way to the top floor of a building with obstacles along the way including Bolo Yeung and a really wild scene involving reptiles. Though it didn't get quite as much theatrical play as some of its peers, this one is loads of fun if you're in the right mindset with an avalanche of combat scenes that make you stop trying to follow any kind of linear storyline after the first half hour or so. The quality on this Blu-ray release is leagues better than the terrible copies that have proliferated on VHS and DVD, here featuring a nice 2K scan of a German interpositive from Spectacular Films (with a 16mm American TV print title card used at the beginning). Worth provides a partial commentary laying out the subset of Game of Death-sploitation and the gist of Le's career up to and including this film, while Chi Ling Chui provides a scene specific commentary for his scenes recalling the martial arts training involved and memories of his costars. He also turns up on camera for "Kung Fu Movie Hustle" (14m49s) to talk about how Lee's example helped to "spread kung fu all over the world" with contributions he and his peers were very happy to follow in countries like Singapore and Malaysia. "Talking a Good Game" is the first of multiple roundtable discussions in the set with Worth and kung fu movie experts Tatevik Hunanyan, John Kreng, and Ron Strong chatting about the attempts to trick audiences into thinking they were seeing Game of Death years before it actually existed as well as the few iconic images of Bruce in the film that fueled so many of these cash-ins. You also get a Worth intro (1m24s) featuring a very funny opener poking fun at the Lee vehicle's notorious mirror gag, plus the English trailer (as The King of Kung Fu) working overtime to convince you this is a new Lee film.

The co-feature on disc three is, of course, Goodbye, Bruce Lee: His Last Game of Death, which came out in 1975 as Lee fever was Goodbye, Bruce Lee: His Last Game of Deathat its height. This Taiwanese entry also gave Bruceploitation its unofficial anthem with the Goodbye, Bruce Lee: His Last Game of Deathsong "King of Kung Fu" by Candy (also used in the doc, for good reason), a catchy number you'll have stuck in your head much longer than you'd probably like. Here Bruce Li does the honors, essentially doing his own variation on fighting his way up another tower of death. The filmmakers also manage to sneak in some fleeting, on-the-fly cameos from the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Coburn, Steven McQueen, and Stirling Silliphant, via tactics covered in the main doc. Multiple edits of this film exist, with some setting up Li as an actor brought in to finish the incomplete feature left behind after Bruce Lee's demise-- leading to a screening of what was shot, i.e., this film itself with Li already playing Bruce. The Severin Blu-ray has the non-meta version as the main source via a 2K scan of the CRI from Aquarius Releasing, looking way better than the old Anchor Bay DVD among other home video sources, while an 11m46s reel of deleted and extended scenes from a letterboxed SD master features that screening room addition, extra dialogue, and more gymnastics. Djeng contributes a new commentary with segments by Poggiali covering the film's place in the Game sweepstakes and particularly focusing on Li's prolific output and how his films were promoted for American consumption. Then "The Last Kung Fu Picture Show" (12m28s) with Djeng and Worth has them sharing memories and pointing out locations for Bay Area theaters that would show a variety of exploitation fare including plenty of martial arts imports. Also included are a Worth intro (2m8s), a radio spot, and a U.S. trailer.

Disc four is easily the wildest one in the set and also will hold the most appeal for The Dragon Lives Againhorror fans, starting with the outrageous 1977 fan favorite The Dragon Lives Again. The pitch for this one should sell you right away: after his death, Bruce Lee (Bruce The Dragon Lives AgainLeung) winds up in the underworld where he has to mingle with, team up with, or fight Emmanuelle, Sergio Leone's Man with No Name, Popeye, Zatoichi, Laurel and Hardy, James Bond, Dracula, a bunch of mummies, and some skeletons. There's also a lot of sex jokes (including an odd obsession with Lee's "third leg") and some nudity, and yes, it's just as incredible as that sounds. This is another mind-melting Taiwanese number, here from busy director Lo Chi who kept grinding out kung fu movies well into the late '80s. Also shown as Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, this one has been bootlegged like crazy since its initial run of heavily cropped VHS editions, so it's a real relief to finally see it in full scope and reasonably excellent quality here courtesy of a 2K scan of AGFA's 35mm print. Worth and Djeng team up again for another enjoyable commentary, this time pointing out the many undeniably distinctive feature about this unique twist on Bruceploitation, chatting about Leung's work in Taiwan, and explaining who all the guest characters are including some who might fly past the average viewer. Also included is a crazy batch of deleted and extended footage from the French release (6m53s) which, as the opening text card notes, help it all make a little bit more sense even if they aren't essential. That said, there's a lot more talking skeleton silliness so you'll definitely want to check it out. These are presented in French with optional English subtitles. A 40-minute audio essay by the always welcome Lovely Jon, self-described kung fu junkie and familiar soundtrack expert from past releases, runs as an alternate track to the feature as he rattles thoroughly through the film's key personnel and the production's place within the Bruceploitation cycle as a prominent home video staple in particular. Also included are a very NSW English trailer and a Worth intro (2m2s) going into the film's rare status as a comic faux-Bruce project and explaining how its popularity has endured despite being seen mainly in terrible copies (with the negative itself no longer Bruce and the Iron Fingerusable).

The co-feature on disc four can't help but seem a little tame by comparison, but you can't blame Bruce and the Iron Finger (often Bruce and the Iron Fingershown simply as The Iron Finger) for trying. This one has been described accurately on multiple occasions as the closest thing to a giallo in the Bruceploitation canon, right down to its shadowy cinematography and stylish kill scenes. This time Bruce Li is a cop who gets pulled into the murders pulled off by a serial killer whose signature move, the "iron finger," leaves distinctive marks on his victim's neck. Since the victims are all kung fu specialists, that means the trail leads to a martial arts school, skeevy nightclubs, and a bevy of colorful characters including Bruce Leung, not to mention the usual soundtrack pilfered from someone's vinyl collection. Long mangled in public domain sets with rips from the scruffy, cropped VHS releases or so-so rarer widescreen versions, this one also gets a big boost here with a fresh 2K scan from a private collector's release print. Worth goes solo on the commentary for this one, covering its depiction of kung fu schools, the significance of teaming up Li and Leung, and the cross-genre experimentation going on in films like this. The next roundtable chat, "My First Bruceploitation" (10m38s), has the quartet chatting about their first brush with the subgenre (including The Real Bruce Lee) and the annoyance at being suckered into watching films that didn't have the real Bruce Lee in them. Then you get a Worth intro (1m39s), a fullscreen U.S. trailer, and a Hong Kong trailer.

On we go to disc five which Challenge of the Tigerbegins with 1980's Challenge of the Tiger, previously out on DVD from Mondo Macabro as a co-feature with For Your Height Only. Yep, it's another lunatic Dick Randall special as Bruce Le does Challenge of the Tigerdouble duty as director and star here. When a villainous organization devises a plan to render the world's population sterile and wipe out the population (just like the Roger Moore Bond movies around the same time), CIA agent Huang Lung (Le) must team up with co-agent Richard Cannon (Richard Harrison, of course) to stop the madness. Naturally they accomplish this by beating up and/or seducing everything in sight, all with barely a single thread of a plot to hold the nonsense together. Totally irrational and packed with excessive nudity and violence, this is kung fu fun of the highest order. This one has been treated better than most on home video and the Blu-ray is no exception, with the 4K scan from the original negative looking quite spectacular here. Worth joins forces here for a commentary with C. Courtney Joyner, and they seem to be having a blast reacting to the film's insanity and covering the essentials of Le, Randall, Harrison and company. Worth also supplies another intro (1m27s), followed by the English trailer.

Cameroon ConnectionThen on the same disc we get to the one film in the set not in English (and apparently never dubbed), 1984's Cameroon Connection, an oddity made in France by Cameroonian Cameroon Connectiondirector and actor Alphonse Beni who participated in various capacities in tons of French action and erotic films. Here he plays Inspector Baïko, who teams up with Bruce Le to investigate a young female singer's homicide that's tied to the local narcotics trade. He also comes across her twin sister (France Lise), who's part of the sex worker circuit, and it's part of a larger syndicate tying France and Cameroon together. This is really more of a Euro crime film than a Bruceploitation effort, really, apart from a handful of scenes with Le including a bit of martial arts combat. Mostly though it's car chases, shooting, and sleuthing here, which is going to make this the most divisive title in the set. This one was also scanned in 4K from the original negative in France, and it looks superb here as well; as mentioned above, it was shot in French and is presented here with optional English subtitles, making it the definitive way to experience this rarity. Criterion Reflections podcast host David Blakeslee delivers an even-handed audio commentary that makes a case for this film's value as a distinctive blend of cinematic strains while acknowledging the areas in which its grasp definitely exceeds its reach. The very informative "Lights... Cameroon... Action!" (48m18s) is an in-depth and affectionate look at the late Beni with his friend and assistant, Jean Roke Patoude, and others like film historian Richard Tribouilloy analyzing the jack of all trades' desire to become an action star and kick off a burgeoning drive-in movie industry in Cameroon. Also included is a fairly short but endearing 2022 Q&A with Beni (11m5s) at Cine Club N'Kah shortly before his death, plus an intro by Worth (1m8s).

With disc six we arrive Super Dragon: The Bruce Lee Storyat the most inescapable facet of Bruceploitation if you were around in the VHS area: the fake Bruce Lee biopic. There were tons of these around, often the same film masquerading under different Super Dragon: The Bruce Lee Storytitles, each purporting to reveal the truth about Lee's training, philosophy, and contentious love life, as well as the genuine circumstances around his death. Of course none of them actually delivered, but there's a certain geek show fascination in seeing how these films desperately tried to lure in viewers eager to get as much Lee as possible. The first one out of the gate -- less than a year after Lee's death -- was Super Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story from 1974, also shown as Bruce Lee: A Dragon Story and the first exploration of his relationship with actress Betty Ting-Pei whose apartment as the site of Lee's death and who claimed to be his mistress, including playing herself in perhaps the tackiest Bruceploitation film ever, Shaw Brothers' Bruce Lee and I. Here Bruce Li himself appears as Bruce Lee, who starts off with a paper route in America and finds TV stardom on The Green Hornet before heading off to superstardom in Hong Kong with Golden Harvest. If you're looking for an in-depth, historical portrayal of Lee, this ain't it, but fans of Hong Kong moviemaking will get a kick out of seeing the depiction of the movie industry in action including thinly-disguised versions of the main honchos at the time. Li is fine here, but he would obviously soar to much greater heights once he was freed from the soap opera dramatics found here. This one's been bootlegged to death over the decades, but rights holder Multicom supplied the best version to date here with a solid, colorful scan of a release print, bringing out some vibrant lighting you could never really appreciate before. Worth turns in a partial commentary for this one, pointing out the amusing detours from the real story (of which there are many) and appraising this film's significance rushing Lee's story to the big screen first (and long before Hollywood got around to it with 1993's officially sanctioned Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. In addition to a trailer and TV spot, there's also a quick Worth intro (1m39s) preparing you for the madness about to unfold before you.

The other The Dragon Livesbiopic on the same disc is the much more energetic and bizarre The Dragon Lives from 1976, also featuring Bruce Li The Dragon Livesand released in some territories (including home video) as He's a Legend, He's a Hero. One-shot American actress Caryn White plays Lee's wife Linda here in a much more prominent role than the prior film, while the whole Betty thing is touched on in a surreal, psychedelic finale you have to see to believe. This one stands out from the rest by actually detailing Lee's whole life from birth to death instead of focusing on the height of his fame, including lots of martial arts scenes here to show the actor's progression over the course of his life. It's not much more reliable than the prior film here, but it's an enjoyable ride with a lot more visual flair than you'd expect. Also subjected to terrible transfers since the '80s, The Dragon Lives is a whole lot easier to appreciate here with a new 4K scan from an interpositive "found at a vault in Los Angeles." This time we get Caryn White herself (now Caryn White Stedman) turning up for a great audio commentary with Worth and a standalone video interview, "The Taiwan Connection" (15m20s), the latter shot at her home in Tucson, Arizona. Between the two she relates her whole interesting life story including how she ended up going to Taiwan during college to teach English and what she experienced making this film (her only one) after getting experience as a model and thinking she was only trying out for a bit part. Another audio option for the film is an interview with songwriter Anders Gustav Nelsson who penned the "He’s A Legend, He’s A Hero" tune, explaining how he ended up working in the Taiwan film industry and what led him to working on this film. Another roundtable featurette, "Bruce Biopics" (9m37s), has the foursome honing in on the odd trend of "true" Lee stories for the big screen including their own first brushes with these curios and their thoughts on how respectfully the material was handled. Finally you get a Worth intro (1m18s) and 43s of TV spots.

The Dragon, The HeroWhew! On disc seven, the final one in the retail version of the set, The Dragon, The Herowe get to one of the most prolific and fascinating figures in Asian action cinema: the one and only Godfrey Ho, whose cut and paste ninja epics have become the stuff of home video legend. However, he really did direct the entirety of The Dragon, The Hero from 1980 after cutting his teeth at Shaw Brothers, and he shows a real zest here with a kitchen sink approach including full-on supernatural shenanigans and a truly insane collage soundtrack bookended with Ennio Morricone's main theme for The Big Gundown. The plot, such as it is, involves feuding fellow kung fu students John Liu and Tino Wong who have to figure out how to put their differences aside when the undead-looking Chan Lau, who lost his manhood in a way you won't believe, and sidekick Phillip Ko come gunning for them. Bolo Yeung turns up here again for a few fight scenes that culminate in a bonkers climax featuring some moves you truly won't see anywhere else. Dragon Lee turns up now and then to throw in a few kicks, too. A great party movie, this one looks far better than ever before here with a 2K scan from Trans-Continental's interpositive; Ho really knew how to mount an action scene when he put in the effort, and seeing this film in all its glory proves that. Speaking of Ho, he's present here for an invaluable commentary with Worth and a video interview, "Godfrey, The Hero" (18m6s), showing off his original studio space, talking about his teaching gig, and the story behind how he got the job doing this film in the first place after learning from masters like Chang Cheh. The track fills in the rest of the gaps including his working relationship with his stars and lessons he learned about how to put together a sellable feature film. Also included are a reel of deleted scenes (23m14s) from an SD letterboxed source with burned-in English subtitles and featuring some pretty hilarious extra fight footage, a Worth (1m54s), and the English trailer as Dragon on Fire.

The dragon mania Rage of the Dragoncontinues with the other feature on the disc, 1980's Rage of the Dragon, a South Korean actioner also known Rage of the Dragonas Mission for the Dragon and sometimes sold erroneously as a Godfrey Ho joint. Dragon Lee gets the spotlight here and shines as a martial artist who's out for revenge for the murder of his father, which is connected to a nefarious antique black market ring involving Carter Wong. This one is a perfect co-feature as it also has some killer fight scenes and indulges in plenty of genre-twisting surprises with a few scenes that feel worthy of a Shaw Brothers black magic film. The film's caffeinated sound mix with some of the goofiest effects you've ever heard is legendary among fans of deep cuts like this one, and as always, Dragon Lee proves himself to be one of the best in his field. Like its companion feature, this one has a sterling new 2K scan courtesy of Trans-Continental, this time the interpositive, and anyone who squirmed through a pan and scan version will be delighted. (It was also released widescreen in Germany but upscaled and nowhere near this level of quality.) A very Dragon Lee- heavy commentary with Worth and interjections from Poggiali is a fine listen as always, including a lot about the film's U.S. release featuring an adorable replacement title card. "Kung Fu Theaters" (8m12s) is the last of the roundtable discussions as the four enthusiasts delve into the practice of monitoring newspaper ads and trailers to plan out kung fu viewing on the big screen in the golden era. Also included are a Worth intro (1m36s) and the U.S. trailer.

Also available The Big Boss Part IIfrom Severin via direct order is an exclusive limited edition featuring an eighth disc for the truly The Big Boss Part IIcommitted. One of the rarest holy grails of Bruceploitation, 1976's The Big Boss Part II has never been available in a watchable edition and has remained weirdly obscure given that it's a direct sequel to one of Lee's most popular films. Picking up directly where the last film left off, with a very underused Bruce Le turning up here as our hero now in the slammer. His brother, Lo Lieh, shows up to avenge their father's murder, which puts him in the crosshairs of a bunch of Thai gangsters. Mostly that's a pretense for lots of fighting and a speedboat chase scored to some very familiar music, and while there's nothing terribly distinctive about this one, it's great to finally have this one out there on home video to prove it actually exists. The sole known print was used as the source here, in Mandarin with burned-in English and Chinese subtitles, and in his intro (1m51s), Worth cites it as coming from a private collector (probably the same one already known to the L.A. moviegoing public). A dupey trailer is also included. The same disc also The Black Dragon vs. the Yellow Tigerfeatures the much more easily accessible The Black Dragon vs. the Yellow TigerThe Black Dragon vs. the Yellow Tiger from 1974, a Taiwan-shot spin-off of Lee's The Way of the Dragon (a.k.a. Return of the Dragon). The title characters are Clint Robinson (essentially doing a riff on Ron Van Clief's Black Dragon persona) and Tong Lung, the latter playing Lee's character and basically engaging in one fight scene after another thanks to some pesky gangsters. It's silly and mostly incoherent but definitely packed with action scenes, not to mention audio cameos from a certain Lalo Schifrin composition guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. This one got lots of theatrical play but never looked so hot on home video, so at least what we have here (a fusion of two prints) is about as good as it's likely to get. Worth turns in his last track in the set, this time peppered with interview snippets from Robinson himself, and it's a fine way sendoff as you get a lot of info about how this unofficial sequel came about. Also included are a Worth intro (1m35s) and the feisty Aquarius Releasing trailer. The impressive packaging features a colorful, heavily illustrated book with essays including Worth's "The Bruce Clone Connection" and "Bruce Li & I: How the Man and the Myth Saved My Kung Fu Childhood," Poggiali's "Exit the Dragon, Enter the Clones: The Bruceploitation of America 1973-1983," John Casbard's "Inter Ocean Continental Shore: The Dawn of Video Formations," and Roger Cross' "Ocean Shores and the Kung Fu Home Video Boom."

Reviewed on June 26, 2024