Bruce Lee at Golden Harvest – Blu-Ray Box Set Review

The films of Bruce Lee have been released in many formats over the years and the last Blu-ray release in the UK was by MediumRare and was a good release for its time.

Now Arrow Video in the UK has released the ultimate set, which includes every film, new footage, tons of special features, some new and some vintage.

While I will not go into the plots of the films concerned, I’m sure most fans reading this would have seen them multiple times but will list the quality, differences and special features on each disc. This is going to be a long review so get ready.

Disc 1 -The Big Boss

Now from a new 4K remaster the picture quality is stunning with bold colours and rich texture.

Firstly audio-wise you have a choice of newly restored lossless Mandarin, English and Cantonese mono. There are two English mono options, the standard mix and a Japanese mix with an alternate score. Newly translated subtitles are also included.

Extras on this disc are –

  • Two brand new feature commentaries, one by David Desser and one by Brandon Bentley
  • Return to Thailand, a new documentary produced and presented by Matt Routledge exploring the original filming locations. Interesting documentary about where it was filmed and the locations as they are now.
  • Newly uncovered deleted and extended scenes, with optional commentary by Bentley (which you will see on the Extended cut on disc 2)
  • The Not-Quite-Biggest Boss, a video essay by Bentley investigating the scenes still lost, such as the ‘saw-in-the-head’ scene.
  • Archive interviews with co-star Lau Wing and stuntman Tung Wai – Very interesting talk on the filming of The Big Boss and Bruce Lee in general.
  • Bruce Lee Vs. Peter Thomas, a short video essay about the music for the English version, which was originally done for the German release.
  • Alternate credits sequences.
  • Trailer gallery, including a ‘Before The Big Boss’ reel and the trailer for the lost “sequel” The Big Boss Part II starring Lo Lieh.
  • Image Gallery

Disc 2 – The Big Boss – Mandarin Cut

On this disc you have three alternate versions of The Big Boss with lossless mono audio, newly restored: the 110-min Mandarin Cut, with restored Mandarin mono; the 100-min English Export Cut, featuring a rare alternate rejected English dub track (some scenes in Mandarin); and the 100-min US Theatrical Cut

This is the one disc that has the fans excited, the uncut longer Mandarin version, last seen in 1979 at a showing in London (I was lucky enough to have been there). There are numerous extended and new scenes the most prominent being the extended cart fight with Bruce and James Tien as well as the second visit to the prostitute towards the end. These scenes are of lower quality than the rest of the film as they were sourced from the only known surviving 35mm print.

But you do get the option to watch the entire Mandarin cut unrestored from the original reels which is a nice touch.

Extras on this disc are –

  • Newly restored English subtitles for the Mandarin Cut
  • Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on both English cuts
  • Axis of English – a new video essay by Will Offutt profiling the English dubbing actors for The Big Boss, Fist of Fury and The Way of the Dragon. Interesting watch and fascinating to know that they still could not identify some of them.
  • Unrestored raw scan of the Mandarin Cut

Disc 3 – Fist of Fury

Another fine 4k remaster with great and bold colours solid blacks and a far better presentation than any previous release.

Audio gives you original newly restored Mandarin, English and Cantonese mono audio. There are two English mono options, the standard mix and a Japanese mix with alternate music. Plus newly translated English subtitles, plus optional subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing on the English dubs.

Extras on this disc are –

  • Alternate ‘English Export Cut’ viewing option with different opening and closing credits, via seamless branching
  • Two brand new feature commentaries, one by Jonathan Clements and one by Brandon Bentley
  • Legend of the Dragon, a newly filmed 80-minute overview of Lee’s life and career by film critic and historian Tony Rayns. He goes into great detail about the life of Bruce Lee and his film career. He shows his dislike of Enter the Dragon and does get a few facts wrong but as always he is great to listen to.
  • Visions of Fury, a new featurette on Bruce Lee’s collaboration with Golden Harvest and Lo Wei, features interviews with co-producer Andre Morgan and martial arts experts Michael Worth, Frank Djeng, John Kreng, Andy Cheng and Bruce Willow. Another great and interesting new extra.
  • Archive interviews with co-stars Nora Miao, Riki Hashimoto, Jun Katsumura and Yuen Wah. Again really good to see these archive interviews with people who actually worked with Bruce.
  • Alternate credits sequence
  • Trailer gallery, including a fun Chen Zhen trailer reel
  • Image Gallery

Disc 4 – The Way of the Dragon

Another great remaster and while this film is the poorest of the bunch quality-wise, it is because it was shot in such a guerilla style and looks the best it can. Again it’s far superior to other previous releases. You can see the Hong Kong Theatrical Cut or the Japanese Cut via seamless branching.

Audio gives you lossless Mandarin, English and Cantonese mono audio on the Hong Kong Theatrical Cut and an alternate lossless English mono audio on the Japanese Cut. The Japanese cut although in English has Lee’s original war cries and added music in some scenes. You also have newly translated English subtitles.

Extras on this disc are –

  • Two brand new feature commentaries, one by Frank Djeng & Michael Worth and one by Brandon Bentley
  • The Way of the Camera, a new documentary looking at Lee’s filmmaking and fighting method in his directorial debut, featuring interviews with Golden Harvest producer Andre Morgan, martial arts experts Michael Worth, Jon Kreng, Andy Cheng, Frank Djeng, David Yeung, film historian Courtney Joyner and actors Piet (Peter) Schweer, Jon Benn and John Saxon. Another worthy new addition.
  • Meet the Italian Beauty, a newly filmed interview with star Malisa Longo where she talks about meeting Bruce and stories about the filming.
  • The Scottish Soldier Meets the Dragon, a newly filmed interview with on-set observer John Young.
  • Newly recorded select scene commentary by ‘thug’ actor Piet Schweer
  • Archive interviews with co-stars Jon Benn, Bob Wall and Hwang In-shik and production managers Chaplin Chang and Louis Sit. Again great vintage interviews and well worth another look.
  • Trailer gallery, including a fun Bruceploitation trailer reel
  • Image Gallery

Disc 5 – Enter the Dragon

This is the same disc which was put out by Warner 10 years ago. Not remastered in 4K this is an OK transfer and the disc has the same extras as before. Warners are releasing a 4K UHD of Enter the Dragon later in the year, not sure if this will include Bluray as well. This is in the set to make it complete.

Disc 6 – Game of Death

Newly restored by Arrow Films from original film elements, of the international cut and the Japanese cut via seamless branching. Another fine remaster and restored English mono audio which makes John Barry’s great score stand out.

Extras on this disc are –

  • Brand new feature commentary by Brandon Bentley & Mike Leeder
  • The Song I’m Singing Tomorrow is a newly filmed interview with star Colleen Camp where she discusses the film and Bruce Lee.
  • Deleted and extended scenes from the Chinese-language versions of the film, including two alternate endings (contains some standard-definition material)
  • Archive interviews with co-stars Dan Inosanto and Bob Wall who both discuss the film and their involvement to try and complete it after Bruce died.
  • Behind-the-scenes footage as featured in Bruce Lee: The Legend
  • Rare pre-production sales featurette from 1976 with new commentary by Michael Worth and producer Andre Morgan. Interesting promo as Golden Harvest was trying to drum up investors and interest in finishing the film.
  • Fight scene dailies directed by Sammo Hung – rare stuff of outtakes from the Sammo-directed fight scene with Kim Tai Chung.
  • Locations featurette from 2013
  • Trailer gallery, including Bruceploitation and ‘Robert Clouse at Golden Harvest’ trailer reels
  • Image Gallery

Disc 7 – Game of Death – Alternate Versions

HD presentation of the Cantonese and Mandarin versions of the film with different scenes and editing. Neither are any better than the International cut but fascinating to see the differences. Good picture quality with lossless Mandarin and Cantonese mono audio and Newly translated optional English subtitles.

Extras on this disc are –

  • Archive interview with Casanova Wong from 2001 on his relationship with Sammo Hung, and Lee’s influence on him.
  • Archive featurettes on Lee’s life and impact: The Hong Kong Connection, Bruce Lee Remembered, Legacy of the Dragon, Dragon Rising (which is his screen test for Fox) and The Grandmaster & The Dragon, featuring interviews with Hung, Donnie Yen, William Cheung and many others.
  • Many great archive interviews with Robert Lee, Phoebe Lee, Pat Johnson, George Lee, Gene LeBell, Van Williams, Joe Torrenueva, Jeff Imada, Linda Palmer, Fred Weintraub, Tom Kuhn, Paul Heller and James Lew.

Disc 8 – The Final Game of Death

Now this disc is probably the best for new and fascinating Bruce Lee footage. The Final Game of Death is a brand new three-hour video essay by Arrow Films that incorporates a new 2K restoration of all two hours of Lee’s original dailies from a recently-discovered interpositive. This really does go into depth about what was shot and when and as a great bonus reconstructs the footage from Lee’s notes with a new dub and sound effects. This also includes for the first time the log fight between Chor Yuen and Dan Inosantos thought lost. A brilliant extra.

Extras are –

  • Game of Death: Revisited, an earlier attempt to reconstruct Lee’s original vision from 2001 by Artport and originally released in Japan.
  • Super 8 footage from 1974 of Dan Inosanto demonstrating the nunchaku
  • Short archival interview with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from 1976
  • Image Gallery

Disc 9 – Game of Death 2

Now I personally don’t think this should be included as it’s not a Bruce Lee film at all, it just cut in some outtakes from Enter the Dragon and built up a ludicrous story around a martial artist getting the revenge for the death of his friend. Appalling story with bad acting it is enlived by some great fight scenes featuring Hwang Jang Lee, Kim Tai Chung and Yuen Biao.

The film has a new 2K remaster and looks good for its time. You have a presentation of Game of Death II as well as the Hong Kong Theatrical Cut titled Tower of Death (which contains some standard-definition material)

Audio gives you Original lossless English mono audio on Game of Death II and Original lossless Cantonese, Mandarin and English mono audio on Tower of Death.

Extras are –

  • Brand new feature commentary by Frank Djeng & Michael Worth, co-producers of Enter the Clones of Bruce
  • Archive interview with co-star Roy Horan. In the which the late great Mr Horan discusses the film and his role in it.
  • Alternate Korean version with unique footage, presented in High Definition with original lossless mono audio and newly translated English subtitles. Odd version with 99% of all the real Lee footage cut out and a few alternate fight bits.
  • Alternate US video version in High Definition with lossless English mono audio, via seamless branching
  • Alternate end credits sequence for Game of Death II
  • Trailer Gallery
  • Image Gallery

Disc 10 – Documentaries.

This disc includes the two Golden Harvest documentaries Bruce Lee the Man and Legend and Bruce Lee The Legend. Remastered in HD they both look great and give you the audio options of lossless Mandarin mono audio for The Man & The Legend, and lossless English mono audio for both films.

Extras on this disc are –

  • Alternate video version of The Legend, featuring different editing and credits (standard definition only)
  • Archive video of a tour of Golden Harvest Studios conducted in the mid-1990s by Russell Cawthorne, writer of Bruce Lee: The Legend
  • Alternate animated Hong Kong credits for Enter the Dragon
  • Trailers and image galleries for both films

Well, this is a fantastic release from Arrow Video, which give you a choice of a Blu-ray set or a combination of Blu-ray and UHD for certain films if you are UHD-ready.

Not only do you get the films looking the very best they ever have you also get a brilliant bunch of extras which well worth investigating. Lee fans will be overjoyed to get the uncut Big Boss for the first time and all the Game of Death footage Bruce shot in HD.

This set also comes with the following which I have yet to see as only had the review discs –

  • Limited edition packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella
  • 200-page hardbound book featuring new writing by Walter Chaw, Henry Blyth, Andrew Staton, Dylan Cheung, David West and James Flower
  • Twenty-four lobby card reproductions
  • Ten glossy photos of Lee in action
  • Reversible poster with vintage quad poster artwork

Any fan of Bruce Lee or Hong Kong action cinema should buy this set as it is definitely the release of the year for HK movie fans.

SET – 10 PICTURE – 10 AUDIO – 9 – EXTRAS – 10


Have any Question or Comment?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *