"Where you can't fault this picture is within the strength of the subject matter..."
One thing you can be sure of in regards to Pete McCormack's I am Bruce Lee, is a fascinating narrative, as we delve into the life of one of the most well renowned movie stars of all time. With personal interviews with friends and family, I am Bruce Lee charts the life of a man believed to be the most esteemed martial artist of all time, offering an insight into his short life, looking into his childhood, his rise to fame, and of course his untimely death.
Bruce Lee was born in the United States but grew up in Hong Kong. Creating a name for himself as a child movie star, he then moved back to America in his teens hoping for stardom as an actor. Despite having taken on a successful role as Kato in the TV series The Green Hornet, Hollywood success for a young, Asian man was no easy task - so he returned to his native land, and that's where it all began. Starring in films such Fist of Fury, The Game of Death and Enter the Dragon, Lee became a world-wide phenomenon, yet just as his success rose, he died unexpectantly at the age of just 32, yet his legacy lives on and it's that very legacy that McCormack explores within this feature.
As a documentary film there are certainly a handful of irritations that exist, yet where you can't fault this picture is within the strength of the subject matter. Lee just has this presence that is so compelling, as you simply can't tear your eyes away from him. A documentary about a superstar with a contentious life is almost guaranteeing enjoyment. However it does take a while to really get into this feature as the opening half an hour is somewhat tedious, yet if you bear with it and follow on as Lee's career develops and explodes, as does the film, as the latter stages provide great cinema.
I do have a problem however with the choice of talking heads, as although McCormack speaks frankly with the likes of Lee's wife Linda Lee Cadwell and other family members such as his daughter Shannon, there are a few too many irrelevant interviews with random celebrities, with tenuous links to the martial arts star - in a sense that they are involved in the entertainment industry and are relatively famous, although that's being kind to some of them. I mean, what do I care about what Taboo of Black Eyed Peas has to say about Bruce Lee?
As a result of the interviewee selections, it does tarnish the film in a sense that these people idolise Lee, and instead of taking an objective viewpoint on him - imperative to do so within documentaries - instead it simply feels as though it's a celebration of Lee's life and work. As a result I feel as though I know more about the movie star than the man himself.
However McCormack does redeem himself in other areas of this picture, particularly in his technique used whereby he implements footage from Lee's movies to bring past occurrences to life. For example if Cadwell was to account a time when Lee was in a melancholic mood and went and sat alone for a while, McCormack would then show a clip from one of his films depicting Lee doing something very similar. It's a simple technique yet effective as it really brings Lee's story to life.
I am Bruce Lee is an accessible production that offers an insight into one of the most celebrated performers of all time, and for those of a certain (and more recent...) generation, a life filled with intrigue and mystery. McCormack hasn't presented anything original or spectacular, but if you seek in viewing an enjoyable and informative documentary about Bruce Lee, then this is safe bet.