Pete McCormack did a bang up job with his documentary feature 'I Am Bruce Lee.' The made for TV documentary premiered in 2011 on one of the network stations. This isn't your average biographical film, rather it adds a lot of celebrity perspectives to the legend that is Bruce Lee, even if the people speaking didn't necessarily know the star. It reminded me of Spike Lee's documentary on Michael Jackson's 'Bad' album which premiered on Thanksgiving this year, in that it's a mix of rare behind the scenes footage intercut with interviews from celebrities who were influenced by the artist, as well as people who worked closely with him. This Bruce Lee documentary spans the entertainer's life. Fans will captivated and mystified all over again.
We start out with Lee's entrance into this world, which leads directly to his start in the film industry, chronicling his rise to world-wide super stardom and his journeys and adventures around the world. The film centers on Lee's thoughts on life, as well as his martial arts. We see him taking many different aspects from all types of fighting styles. The bulk of the documentary covers the 10 years leading up to his bizarre and untimely death.
The interviews, while seeming somewhat strange at first, really show us what an impact Lee had on not just people in the martial arts circles, but atheletes, actors, producers, and his family. Lee's wife, Linda Lee Caldwell and his daughter Shannon Lee provide some emotional and personal information on the late great legend as we get a glimpse into his home life with some very interesting and fun home footage, which includes some amazing clips of Lee and celebrities training at their homes.
In addition to the family talking about their loved one, quite a bit of celebrities in all genres talk about his impact on their lives including Kobe Bryant, Manny Pacquiao, Ed O'Neill, Chuck Norris, Gina Carano, and Mickey Rourke. I thought this was great, as we get to see just how far and how much Lee reached different generations and all aspects of life. Truly remarkable.
The archival footage include tons of rare interviews with Lee, home footage, television appearances, and behind the scenes footage, which includes that legendary 1 inch punch he is so famous for. And of course, for you conspiracy theorists out there, his death is discussed in detail, and all of the conspiracy theories are brought up, no matter how far-fetched they are. 'I Am Bruce Lee' brings an intimate portrait of one of the most notable entertainers in the world and covers not only his fame and family, but his impact on history and our pop culture. Regardless of whether you know much about Lee, you'll be a fan for life after watching this.
'I Am Bruce Lee' comes with a 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The interview segments were filmed in HD, but the archival footage is definitely not HD, but rather various levels of quality from all of the old technology. Those old archival pieces of footage are the best of quality, but the new interviews looks very good. The colors are bright and vibrant with the detail sharp. The black levels are deep and inky with the flesh tones of the interviewees smooth and natural. I did not notice any edge enhancement, video noise, or aliasing. For being a made-for-TV documentary that intersperses rough and raw footage with quality HD material, this looks pretty decent.
This release only comes with an English lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and a DTS-HD 2.0 audio mix, however it being mostly interviews, it doesn't really take advantage of that 5.1 mix, as there are no ambient noises or anything really to warrant the rears. As this is a 100% dialogue driven film, fortunately it comes across crystal clear as the interviews go, however, like the video, the archival footage audio sounds rocky. That being said, the dynamics are well balanced in post and never detracts from the viewing experience. A solid audio presentation given the source material.
'I Am Bruce Lee' provides a treasure trove of rare clips and interviews that give us a look at one of the greatest entertainers of all time. Even 40 years after his death, Lee is still making an impact on our culture. With solid audio and video presentations, a number of extras, and a well made documentary, I suggest you get this for your collection, as you'll want to show your friends just how great this man really was. Highly recommended.