AKA: Bruce Lee I Love You, Bruce Lee & I
Director: John Lo Mar
Writer: John Lo Mar, Betty Ting Pei
Producer: Runme Shaw
Cast: Betty Ting Pei, Danny Lee, Wong San, Yuen Cheung Yan, Gam Dai, Shut Ma Wa Lung, Tony Liu, Chan Lau, Tino Wong Cheung, Chow Yun Gin, Yuen Shun Yi, Lee Chiu, Chin Yuet Sang, Corey Yuen, Alan Chui Chung San, Yen Shi Kwan
Running Time: 102 min.
By Mighty Peking Man
To understand the 1975 Shaw Brothers film, Bruce Lee & I, you must first understand who Betty Ting Pei was.
Betty Ting Pei was a Taiwanese actress who was known for appearing in sleazy films, often as a sex symbol, seductress, or some sort of bad girl. She made a name for herself in the early ’70s when she became romantically linked with Bruce Lee, who was Hong Kong’s biggest movie star. However, she became notoriously known around the world for being the last person to talk to – and see – Bruce just hours before his death.
It was on July 20, 1973, at Betty’s apartment, that Bruce complained of an intense headache. Betty gave him an Equagesic tablet (a kind of super aspirin) to relieve him of his pain. Shortly after, Bruce took a nap on her bed and never woke up.
On the day of his death, speculation began to circulate in the media. Bruce’s fans were shocked, angry and confused. What was Bruce Lee, a married father of two, doing in another woman’s bed? What was in the pill that Betty gave Bruce? Was Betty sent by gangsters to poison him? You really couldn’t blame anyone for making such accusations. After all, Bruce was only 32-years old and in better shape than most athletic 18-year olds.
Bruce Lee & I is the story of Bruce Lee’s final days (hence, the film’s alternate title: Bruce Lee: His Last Days, His Last Nights), as told through the eyes of Betty Ting Pei, who plays herself. Danny Lee (yes, THAT Danny Lee from John Woo’s 1989 hit The Killer) plays Bruce Lee. Does he do a good job? No, but in the last 30 years of countless Bruceploitation films, who ever did?
Bruce Lee & I is harsh and silly and whether any of it is factual or not, it’s disgraceful to not only Bruce, but to everyone who is portrayed in it, especially Betty, who proves that she lacks self-respect AND common sense. The film opens with Betty and Bruce having their very last fuck-session; Betty leaves the room, comes back, and Bruce is dead. Cut to the following day. Betty is crying and depressed over Bruce’s passing and is pressured by the rumors created by fans and the media. The rest of the film is one long flashback that revolves around her relationship with Bruce and how they met (yes, he saves her from thugs; then later, from debt collectors due to her gambling problems); as well as Betty’s early career, at which point we’re expected to feel sorry for her because producers forced her to appear in porn movies.
Forcing her to do pornos, eh? Yet here she is in a movie playing herself and it’s filled with pointless nudity and sex scenes between her (well, her body double, that is) and Bruce. When the two aren’t romping on trampolines, throwing pillows at each other in slow motion, or taking romantic walks; we get to see Bruce smoking weed, getting drunk, picking fights with white people and swallowing mysterious prescription drugs.
I’m usually a big fan of movies that are gutsy, revealing and provocative, but Bruce Lee & I is just plain stupid. Believe me, I’m not one of those sensitive Bruce Lee fanatics who loses sleep anytime someone says something negative about him. I’m actually one of those guys who supports the fact that Bruce messed around, ate hash and was a cocky asshole. But in this flick, it seemed forced, useless and presented in a corny fashion.
If you’re a Bruce Lee fan and watching Bruce Lee & I for the action or just for the sake of having a good time, it still might disappoint. To me, it was a slow, boring ride and I got sick of looking at Betty Ting Pei’s big head and Danny Lee’s flat ass. The action is there, but it’s nothing great – maybe a step above run-of-the-mill Bruce Li stuff. The action scenes were choreographed by Tang Chia and Yuen Woo-ping, who both probably knew this was a crappy flick so they put little effort into staging them.
It makes me wonder why the Shaw Brothers, a respected and legendary film company, would back a shameful movie like this. Maybe it was their way to get even with Bruce Lee for all those times he was throwing blank checks right back at them.
At the time of this film’s release, Bruce Lee was indeed fighting back from his grave.
Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 4/10 (recommended for die-hard Bruce Lee exploitation fans only)