Film Reviews

Bruce Lee at Golden Harvest (1971-1981) – 4K UHD Review

There has never been a better actor and martial artist than Bruce Lee. There may be some who are more proficient, some who have more talent and skill in either profession, but for bringing a pure mix of ability and sheer charisma, no one can match him. And with it being fifty years since his untimely passing, Arrow Video has collected all of his films into a new exhaustive collector’s box set called Bruce Lee at Golden Harvest, with most of the pictures receiving new 4K restorations.

Bruce Lee at Golden Harvest (Golden Harvest being the famous martial arts film production company the films were produced under) contains The Big Boss (1971), Fist of Fury and The Way of the Dragon (1972), and Game of Death (1978), all of which come from 4K restorations and are presented in 4K UHD. There is also a “lost cut” of The Big Boss entitled The Mandarin Cut, which is also in 4K. Then, on Blu-ray, comes the Hong Kong cut of Game of Death, Game of Death II (which is from a 2K restoration), and two vintage documentaries: Bruce Lee: The Man & The Legend from 1973, and 1984’s Bruce Lee: The Legend. It also includes the previously released 40th-anniversary edition of his most famous film, 1973’s Enter the Dragon, although Warners will be releasing a new 4K UHD of that film in August.

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This set is amazingly comprehensive and as definitive as it can be. As stated before, both cuts of The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, The Way of the Dragon, and Game of Death are all from new 4K restorations, and it’s just wonderful to see these movies, previously seen by many on TV or video in lesser-quality, shine as they do. Arrow has also included different audio options, including Mandarin and Cantonese on most of the films, and the sound work done is phenomenal – those iconic sound effects sound like they’re right in the room with you.

And then there are the special features. There is so much thrilling material here – all spread across the ten discs of the set – that it’ll take you weeks to get through it all, and much of it has been newly produced. These are so good that it’s likely you could come out of it and go fly through a course on Bruce Lee and get a PhD in his films. Yes, that’s stupid, but it’s how good this set is. Highlights of the set include ‘Return to Thailand’, which looks at the original filming locations of The Big Boss; ‘Axis of English’, a video essay that looks at the English dubbing actors for The Big Boss, Fist of Fury and The Way of the Dragon; and ‘Legend of the Dragon’, a feature-length piece that sees film historian Tony Rayns look at Lee’s life and career.

There’s also ‘Visions of Fury’, about Lee’s relationship with Golden Harvest and director Lo Wei; ‘The Way of the Camera’; which looks at the filmmaking of Lee in The Way of the Dragon, which was his directorial debut; and dailies from scenes of Game of Death, which were directed by martial arts legend Sammo Hung. There are also lots of alternate versions of the films and deleted scenes, and the exhaustive and incredible ‘The Final Game of Death’, which is a three-hour video essay by Arrow Video featuring Bruce Lee’s dailies from the unfinished film, taken from a 2K scan.

Added to this, there are audio commentaries, featurettes, interviews, trailers, and everything you would want. For the physical collector, there’s also a two-hundred-page hardbound book featuring new writing, two dozen lobby card reproductions, ten “glossy photos of Lee in action”, and a poster with vintage artwork. None of the physical extras were made available for review, but they sound impressive.

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Bruce Lee at Golden Harvest is an essential purchase, especially if you love your UHDs. It’s a hefty price, but for what you get it’s definitely worth it by a long way. Lee was an exceptional talent, and there’s no way to ever be closer to his magnificent self.

Bruce Lee at Golden Harvest is out now on Limited Edition 4K UHD and Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

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