Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave (1976)

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Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave (1976) Poster

A kung Fu expert travels to America to take out a gang of mysterious villains responsible for the murder of his best friend.


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28 November 2015 | Leofwine_draca
| Typical kung fu flick masquerading as a Bruce Lee imitation
This is a film with one of those great exploitation titles that promises so much more than it eventually delivers. At first glance I was expecting to see some extreme kung-fu horror flick with a mad sorcerer reviving Bruce Lee from his death and turning him into an unstoppable zombie killer, with only a young novice martial artist to stop him. Sadly this was not to be. Aside from the cheesy opening shot, in which a guy pretending to be Bruce Lee jumps straight out of a grave and a drawing of such a scene follows on quickly, we're in the middle of a run-of-the-mill fight flick that has nothing to do with Bruce Lee at all. In fact, he's not even mentioned!

The film instead concerns a young Bruce Lee lookalike named Bruce Lea (see where the confusion can arise?). It turns out that an old buddy of Lea's has died, so he goes to investigate and find the killers responsible. It turns out to be, apparently, the Village People! Yep, a Japanese man, a black man, a cowboy and a white man were last seen with the deceased and soon Lea finds himself battling the criminal gang in a succession of largely unimpressive fights. Things are tied up with a very unsurprising twist ending, a touch of tragedy and lots of very bad dubbing and worse acting. Lots of running time is taken up with scenes of human bonding which occur between Lea and would-be girlfriend Deborah Chaplin and the will-they-or-won't-they relationship which develops between them.

Interspersed with the light plot are some fairly average scenes of kung fu which are nothing to get excited about. They are okay, but Lea is no Bruce Lee or even Bruce Li. In fact, Bruce Lea is a better actor than he is a fighter, which is unusual considering the proliferation of good fighters/poor actors that fill our screens year after year! Chaplin is also not bad in a developed part, although the bad guys are little more than clichés waiting to be cut down by our hero.

The film is quite slow and uninteresting, let down by poor production values and a somewhat gloomy atmosphere. The photography is always dark and the editing looks like child's work, with silly slow-motion inserts for no reason (the moves aren't even that impressive to begin with). For some reason, some prints of the film claim that Umberto Lenzi is the director, but I believe this to be a simple case of mistaken identity; also, why on earth would Lenzi leave his beloved cop films in Italy to go globetrotting for a low budget kung fu trash oddity? A guy named Doo-Yong Lee appears to be the real culprit.

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