“Here Come The Kung Fu Clones” is a book about the superabundance of Bruce Lee imitators who attempted to fill the void created by the Little Dragon’s death in 1973 with movies such as “Bruce Lee Against Supermen”, “Bruce Lee His Last Days, His Last Nights”, “Bruce Lee Fights Back From The Grave” and “Bruce Lee In New Guinea”. While a lot of work has obviously gone into this book, the writing is fan level and could have been much better organised. As you’d expect the focus is on summarising plot rather than critical analysis.
Bruce Li is well covered – the other Bruce Lee clones are not well served. The book really needed much more about Bruce Le and Dragon Lee who are major figures in the Brucesploitation genre. Never forget that Dragon Lee appeared in a slew of features directed by the notorious Godfrey Ho – the Jess Franco of martial arts flicks.
I’d hoped for a more rigorous list of Brucesploitation movies than the book provides. For example, when Jones writes about “Treasure Of Bruce Lee” with Bruce Le, he is clearly describing a film I’ve seen as “King Boxer II” (the name under which it is easiest to find in the UK – where “Here Come The Kung Fu Clones” was published – thanks to a 23rd Century DVD that found its way to many a Poundland and street market stall at £1 and under a pop). Likewise, while there is a full page illustration of a video cover for what I assume is the same film under the title “Bruce and the Shaolin Bronzemen”, nowhere in the book is there any information about a movie with this name.
There are no bronzemen in the film I’ve seen titled “Treasure of Bruce Le” (although Jones claims there are bronzemen in this movie), and the current IMDB entry for “Treasure of Bruce Le” (not Lee with two e’s although that is how Jones has it and I’ve also seen it listed under that title) is illustrated with a video cover for a version of the flick under yet another alternative name: “Enter The Game Of Shaolin Bronzemen”.
There are those who state unequivocally that “Treasure of Bruce Le(e)” and “King Boxer II” are not the same movie. I know that the films I’ve seen with these titles aren’t the same flick. I have the US Kung Fu Theater release of “Treasure of Bruce Le” and it is a really cheap cross between Five Deadly Venoms and 36th Chamber of Shaolin. The Japanese want a secret kung fu manual and a samurai masquerades as a loyal Chinese marital arts student to steal it. Bruce Le has to master the various ancient animal fighting skills to avenge his master (who is murdered early on in the movie) and recover the book after it is stolen from him. The most notable thing about the Kung Fu Theater release of “Treasure of Bruce Le” is that aside from being panned and scanned, many of the scenes are out of focus (it isn’t clear to me if this is a problem with the video ‘mastering’ or the original footage) – and as a result it comes across like a piece of avant-garde lettriste cinema of the early 1950s.
To reiterate, the bronzemen and fighting midgets Karl Jones describes as being in this movie, I’ve only seen in my 23rd Century copy of “King Boxer II”. While it seems possible both these films have been released as “Treasure of Bruce Le(e)”, the illustrations accompanying the review of the movie with this title in the Jones book are not from the film he describes – but the one I have under the name he uses (unless he has scene some hybrid version cut together from both). I’d have hoped that “Here Come The Kung Fu Clones” would have clarified my knowledge of the Brucesploitation genre, rather than further confusing it.
That said, it’s good to have the list of Brucesploitation flicks that end the text section of this book but what Jones provides needs further work. To start with the glaringly obvious, since the “A Fistful of Yen” parody section from “Kentucky Fried Movie” is included, I couldn’t understand why Sammo Hung’s “Enter The Fat Dragon” wasn’t….
And just in case you’re interested “King Boxer II” is the greatest Brucesploitation movie of all time, standing head and shoulders above the likes of “Clones Of Bruce Lee” and even “Bruce Lee His Last Days, His Last Nights” AKA “Bruce Lee and I” – thanks in large part to the fighting midgets who battle Bruce Le! I doubt Jones would agree with me, although he seems to like “The Treasure Of Bruce Lee” (or should that be “King Boxer II”?), he’s definitely batting for Bruce Li! But don’t forget, “Challenge of the Tiger” with Bruce Le and Richard Harrison might have hit the top spot if the complete insanity of the scenes set in Spain had been maintained as the action moves east….
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!