Tuesday, May 15, 2018

BRUCE'S DEADLY FINGERS (1976) (VCI Blu-ray Review)


Label: VCI Entertainment 

Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 91 Minutes
Audio: English Uncompressed PCM Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Joseph Kong 
Cast: Bruce Le, Chen Wai-man, Lo Lieh, Nora Miao

In the past I have found kung-fu martial arts films to be something of a mind-numbing experience, while I've always been drawn to a variety of exploitation cinema genres the kung fu films have always kind of bored me if I'm being honest. The whole "bruceploitation" thing is brand new to me as well, I've known of them for quite a long time, but I've never sat through one, till this one. Bruce's Deadly Fingers stars Bruce Lee knock-off Bruce Le, who I know from the bonkers 80's slasher Pieces (1982), he appears in that one as a non-sequitur character known only as "karate professor" who shows up for about a minute of complete what-the-fuckery.

The plot of this one is a bit of a scramble to me, I think I'd need to watch it a few more time to get it completely right, but the gist of it is that a bad-guy gangster (Lo Lieh, Black Magic) is obsessed with owning the late Bruce Lee's fictional 'Kung Fu Finger Book', a book that he wrote shortly before he died detailing a series of deadly take-downs you can perform with one-finger... I shit you not, this is the impetus of the movie. To that end he sends his kung-fu cronies to kidnap Bruce Lee's ex-girlfriend who somehow knows the whereabouts of said lethal literature. Enter Bruce Lee lookalike Bruce Le as Bruce Wong (that's a lot of Bruces!), a kung-fu master who somehow gets caught up in the action, and who also wants to gain the knowledge of from the coveted 'Kung Fu Finger Book', also setting out to rescue his sister who has fallen under the diabolical control of the nefarious gangster. 

That's about the most plot I could extract from this one on the first go round, it's overlong at an hour and half, the bad dialogue is mind-numbing, but there's plenty of Kung-fu action and enough WTF-ery throughout that I kept plugged in, right on through to the eye-plucking/role credit finale. 

I thought Bruce Le was a decent stand-in for the late Bruce Lee, he certainly has a passing resemblance to the fists of fury legend, often wearing familiar looking track suits and eye-wear to reinforce  that similarity, aping the masters moves, but not with the supernatural grace of Lee, but the fight choreography is fun to watch, from the kicks and punches that seem to send opponents hurling through the air as if there was a tiny explosive charge on the appendage delivering the blows, to the constant nose-thumbing of our sinewy shirtless hero, it's got all the stuff you're looking for in a low-budget Kung-fu film, I was certainly entertained. 

Audio/Video: Bruce's Deadly Fingers (1976) arrives on dual-format DVD/Blu-ray from VCI Entertainment, in 1080p HD framed in 2.35:1 widescreen. This is advertised as being a new 2K scan from the original 35mm negative, but the image has been good and scrubbed of fine detail and textures with some excessive DNR, so textures and facial features are waxy and lack definition, sadly. There's some speckling, scratches and print damage evident throughout, nothing to egregious, and a frame or two missing from certain scenes, plus some light fading to the image - it's a grindhouse presentation for sure, but relatively clean, actually a little too clean, the grain has been scrubbed right off the image. Audio comes by way of an English dubbed uncompressed PCM Mono 2.0 track with optional English subtitles, the dialogue sounds appropriately boxy (it is dubbed after all) and thin with some hiss and distortion creeping into it. The score on this one is fun, the title track sounding like a version of a spaghetti western, and music Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' is sampled a few times, which I loved, this movie just straight-up steals music from Pink Floyd, I'm sure there's no way this was properly licensed, it's rather shocking. 

Onto the extras we get an audio commentary from Michael Worth - author, director, actor, and expert on Bruce Lee, and Bruceploitation films, which I appreciated, being not too familiar with this strange chopsocky sub-genre I appreciated his informative track, he opens with talking about catching the film on a double-feature with teh David Carradine vehicle Circle of Iron (1978) and not knowing it wasn't actually a Bruce Lee film for about ten minutes, as it was deceptively advertised. If you dig his commentary check out his podcast which he co-hosts with Mathew Whitaker, The Clone Cast, which covers bruceploitation films, they're up to nineteen episodes so far and they covered this one on their very first episode. There's also six-minutes of deleted scenes that were cut from the U.S. version. thirteen-minutes of bruceploitation trailers, a trailer for the film, a six-minute gallery of images and lobby cards for the movie,  plus a three-minute montage of bad dubbing featured in the movie. This is a dual format release, the DVD features the same extras and main feature in standard definition.

The 2-disc dual format release comes housed in a clear 2-tray Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork, both of which look to be based on home video versions, I din't think the film originally ran in the cinema under this title.  Each disc featuring the same shot of Bruce Le with nun-chucks, the Blu-ray disc with an orange background, the DVD with a yellow background.  

Special Features: 

- Commentary track by Michael Worth - author, director, actor, and expert on Bruce Lee, and 'Bruceploitation films' !
- Deleted Scenes (6 min) HD 
- Brucesploitation Trailers (13 min) HD 
- Original Theatrical Trailer in HD!(4 min) HD 
- Photo and Lobby Card gallery (6 min) HD 
- Bad Kung Fu Dubs (3 min) HD 

Bruce's Deadly Fingers (1976) features loads of kung-fu in addition to a lot of nude women being mistreated by bad men, from being subjected to vaginal tortures involving a lizard to being tied-up and/or gang-raped in a ring of fire, which from the looks of it probably singed a few of the actors in the process, that didn't look safe at all. I had a lot fun with this one, there's plenty of kung-fu action and mayhem to enjoy, my favorite being a training montage of Bruce Le in action, featuring images of the actual Bruce Lee peppered throughout, while Le is training he's finger-punching holes in wood planks and it ends with him five-finger penetrating a fucking rock - A ROCK - it looks like he's holding a five-holed bowling ball, which was hilarious. 



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