Bruce Lee’s father was an actor, working initially in Cantonese Opera but later in films. His mother was a Chinese-American with some Eurasian heritage. Though Lee was born in San Fransisco, his family returned to Hong Kong when he was 3 years old. There, Bruce became an actor, like his father, from an early age, making his screen debut at the tender age of 6.

As he grew up, Lee was trained in martial arts by his father, who taught him Tai-Chi, and Wong Shun-leung, a student of Master Yip (or Ip) Man, who taught him Wing Chun.

After getting into trouble in his late-teenage years (in one incident, he supposedly beat up the son of a Triad member), Lee’s mother sent him back to the US to finish his education and hopefully keep him out of mischief.

There, Lee dreamed of Hollywood stardom but had to make do with teaching martial arts and dancing (he was a cha-cha champion).

However, a kung-fu demonstration at Long Beach in 1964 caught the attention of an acquaintance of a TV producer looking to cast Charlie Chan’s son in a TV series. Whilst that series never got off the ground, the screen test for that led to him being cast as Kato in the Green Hornet series. It wasn’t a huge success, being axed after one series, but Lee’s skills didn’t go unnoticed.

Around a similar time, Lee developed his own philosophy and style of martial arts, called Jeet Kune Do. The classes for these gained traction and he could charge a lot for them, leading to him taking on a number of famous students, including Steve McQueen and James Coburn.

These breaks weren’t enough for Lee to find silver-screen stardom in Hollywood though. He had high hopes for being cast as the lead in the Kung Fu series, but that went to David Caradine. Frustrated, Lee returned to Hong Kong to act there once again, after being away for most of 12 years.

Lee first made the obvious decision to approach Run Run Shaw at Shaw Brothers but, unimpressed by the deal offered to him, he looked elsewhere. This brought Lee to the attention of former Shaw Brothers production head Raymond Chow, who saw Lee as a potentially valuable asset and signed him up for a two-film deal with his relatively new Golden Harvest Studio.

Lee’s first film for the studio was The Big Boss and it proved to be a massive hit in Hong Kong, breaking all sorts of box office records, making him an instant star. With its follow-up, Fist of Fury, Lee was allowed to co-produce, giving him more say on what went into the film. When this was another smash hit, he was able to talk Chow into letting him write and direct his next film, Way of the Dragon. This was also the first film made by Concord Production Inc. a company Lee set up himself, alongside Chow.

The driven and determined Lee still had his heart set on international stardom though. He initially began developing The Silent Flute with his students and friends James Coburn and writer Stirling Silliphant but, whilst they struggled to get this off the ground, Lee began work on the ambitious passion–project Game of Death back in Hong Kong.

During production, however, Lee finally got given the chance to make a Hollywood movie, with the Golden Harvest, Concord and Warner Bros. co-production Enter the Dragon.

Tragically, Bruce Lee died six days before Enter the Dragon was released, making it his last complete film. It went on to be an enormous worldwide success, finally granting Lee’s greatest wish, to be an international star. Sadly, he wasn’t around to enjoy it.

Others made the most of this unprecedented fame though and countless imitators jumped on the ‘Brucesploitation’ bandwagon. This included Golden Harvest, who took Lee’s Game of Death footage and crowbarred it into a film of the same name that shared little else with the filmmaker’s original intentions.

Despite this wringing out of his legacy, it’s a testament to Lee’s talent and charisma that he became such a massive star from largely only 4 films (his earlier work is rarely seen outside Asia). He’s still a much-beloved figure in the cinematic and martial arts world, in fact. This is evident in the incredible package Arrow Video have just released, Bruce Lee at Golden Harvest, which is being released in ten-disc UHD/Blu-ray and ten-disc Blu-ray sets.

Of course, I simply had to get hold of a copy (of the Blu-ray set, I haven’t upgraded to 4K yet) to give my thoughts here. I’ll start with the films and then take a deep dive into the countless extra features.

Get cosy, it’s going to be a long read…

The Big Boss (a.k.a. Tang shan da xiong or Fists of Fury)

Director: Lo Wei, Wu Chia-Hsiang (uncredited)
Screenplay: Lo Wei
Starring: Bruce Lee, Maria Yi, James Tien Chuen, Marilyn Bautista, Han Ying-Chieh, Tony Liu, Lee Kwan, Nora Miao
Country: Hong Kong
Running Time: 111 min (Mandarin cut), 100 min (English & US cuts), 99 min (1983 version)
Year: 1971

In The Big Boss, Lee plays Cheng Chao-an, a young Chinese man who moves to Thailand to live with his cousins and work in an ice factory. One of the cousins, Hsiu Chien (James Tien), shows him the ropes and tries to keep the peace when his brothers, cousins and friends get into trouble.

After a short while, the cousins and their fellow workers worry about the disappearance of some of their group. These incidents all seem to be connected to the factory’s boss, Hsiao Mi (Han Ying-Chieh), so Hsiu steps in.

Cheng is a skilled martial artist and longs to help his cousins too. However, he is sworn to an oath of non-violence by his mother. When he discovers that the factory is a front for a drug smuggling ring, he struggles to keep his promise though.

Some see The Big Boss as a bit of a rough, scrappy predecessor to his more beloved work that would follow. However, I think it holds up very well on its own. The story is a simple one but it’s effectively told and gives the appropriate weight to the fight scenes.

I watched the extended Mandarin Cut for this review, which has long been sought-after by Western Lee fans. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen The Big Boss, but I did feel the film flowed a little better in this longer cut, particularly the first half. The character of Hsiu is notably stronger here, with him given some more varied character beats and a much longer opening fight. He was originally meant to be the star of the film but, when Lee’s talents became apparent and the director was replaced during production, the ‘new kid on the block’ took over.

The Big Boss is the most bloody of Lee’s films, with some pretty gory deaths and nasty use of the ice factory’s buzz saws. The Mandarin cut throws in a little more of this, which genre fans will be pleased to hear.

There is one scene from the Mandarin cut I’d have left out though. There’s a third brothel visit that is a little baffling. Not only does his quick visit to get laid seem out-of-character, but it’s also ridiculously placed just before the final fight, straight after Lee has psyched himself up to get revenge! It does explain where Lee got his crisps/crackers from though.

Where The Big Boss truly shines is in the fight scenes. The choreography here was shared by both Lee and the film’s villain, Han Ying-Chieh, who was already an important figure in kung-fu cinema after choreographing the action in King Hu’s wuxia classics, Come Drink With Me, Dragon Inn and A Touch of Zen. The two have different approaches, with Ying-Chieh’s fights being more traditional, whilst Lee’s tear up the rule book. His approach was to make the fights more natural, with less choreographed, dance-like moves and more brutal, genuinely effective strikes, largely shot in long takes for added authenticity.

This, added to Lee’s intense performance during the fight scenes, clearly shows why the actor made such a massive impact as soon as the film was released. His charisma shows in the dramatic scenes too. Whilst he isn’t given much to do for the first half of the film, Lee still manages to draw your attention through his reactions to what’s going on around him.

So, whilst The Big Boss is a little rough around the edges and a touch baggy around the third quarter, it still packs a punch. It’s enjoyably schlocky and the fight scenes made Lee a star for a reason. The longer Mandarin cut is the best way to see it now, even if one of the new scenes could have stayed lost.

Fist of Fury (a.k.a. Jing wu men or The Chinese Connection)

Director: Lo Wei
Screenplay: Lo Wei, Ni Kuang (uncredited)
Starring: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, Maria Yi, James Tien Chuen, Tien Feng, Huang Tsung-Hsun, Han Ying-Chieh
Country: Hong Kong
Running Time: 107 min
Year: 1972

In Fist of Fury, Lee plays Chen Zhen, a young Chinese martial artist who returns to Shanghai after his master, Huo Yuanjia, dies under mysterious circumstances. At the funeral, members of a Japanese dojo, who are seeking to dominate the Chinese martial arts world, barge in and insult Yuankia’s Jingwu School students, calling the Chinese the “sick men of Asia”.

Fan Junxia (James Tien), the most senior student of Jingwu, calls for his fellow students to turn the other cheek, remaining dedicated to their master’s peaceful ways. However, Chen can’t sit back and let this behaviour go unpunished.

After showing the Japanese what a Chinese martial artist can do, Chen lands himself in hot water. He goes into hiding but, after discovering the Japanese were behind the death of his master, he can’t stay in the shadows for long.

This patriotic, no-nonsense tale is possibly Lee’s most pure and in many ways most effective martial arts film. His coiled-up intensity is at full effect and he truly gets to show off his ability to perform long take action scenes, even doing so against a crowd of enemies.

Possibly in answer to criticisms that Lee didn’t get to fight properly until halfway through The Big Boss, one of the best fights in Fist of Fury happens after a little over 15 mins. We also get to see Lee use nunchaku for the first time here, which is always a treat.

Though the budget was reportedly similar to The Big Boss, Fist of Fury looks slicker than its predecessor. This is likely due to it being shot mostly in the studio, whereas The Big Boss was shot largely on location. The costume and production design is clean and handsome and the studio setting allows for some smooth camera moves.

There is another mid-section lull, but this can be found in most martial arts movies and throughout cinema in general (you need to slow down the pace before kicking off the finale).

Away from the martial arts sequences, the film gets rather melodramatic, with some rather ‘big’ performances, but it helps amp up the drama for when all hell breaks loose. Lee gets more to do performance-wise too, putting his intensity to great use away from the dojo.

So, Fist of Fury is a clear step forward after the relatively rough and ready Big Boss. It may take itself a little too seriously and gets bogged down in melodramatics, but Lee is excellent and his fight scenes are superb.

The Way of the Dragon (a.k.a. Meng long guo jiang or Return of the Dragon)

Director: Bruce Lee
Screenplay: Bruce Lee
Starring: Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Nora Miao, Wei Ping-ao, Huang Tsung-Hsun, Robert Wall, Ing-Sik Whang, Chin Ti
Country: Hong Kong
Running Time: 100 min
Year: 1972

In The Way of the Dragon, Lee plays Tang Lung, a young martial artist from the New Territories, who travels to Rome to help his cousin Chen Ching-hua (Nora Miao) and uncle Wang (Huang Tsung-Hsun) defend their restaurant from a group of gang members who have been causing trouble, keeping customers away.

Tang doesn’t impress Chen to begin with, as he struggles to adapt to life in a Western city, but when he finally gets to show off his martial arts skills, in fighting off the gangsters, she and her fellow colleagues at the restaurant change their tune.

However, the gang’s boss (Jon T. Benn) is dead set on buying the restaurant, so recruits top-level fighters to try to take Tang out of the picture.

I’m quite torn on The Way of the Dragon. In some aspects, it shows the best of Bruce Lee, with some of his greatest fights put on screen. However, away from the action, I believe it represents the weakest side of his ‘proper’ filmography.

Most notably, the film starts out like a fish-out-of-water comedy. People like to talk about Spiritual Boxer or key works from Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan as revolutionising martial arts movies by blending fighting with comedy but Lee was doing this several years earlier here. However, Lee isn’t anywhere near as successful in this pursuit as those masters of the form. To be fair to him as an actor, he can be funny in his delivery, but the jokes here are very weak.

Perhaps much of the humour simply doesn’t translate. Lee reportedly didn’t originally plan to release the film into Western markets but it ended up making it out there anyway, after Lee’s death and after the huge success of Enter the Dragon.

The plot is pretty flimsy though too and, as little as I’d like to dis the legendary Bruce Lee, who I greatly admire, he hadn’t quite found his directorial chops yet at this stage. The film doesn’t look nearly as handsome as Fist of Fury, not helped by some technical shortcomings that I’ll discuss with the transfers further down the page, though it has a few nicely composed shots.

Having said all that, The Way of the Dragon just about manages to transcend those issues through some magnificent fight scenes. His climactic duel with Chuck Norris is incredible. It all feels totally genuine and there’s a respect between the fighters that isn’t often present in lesser kung-fu movies. The pair are even shown to warm up before getting down to business.

The fights behind the restaurant with the gang members are fantastic too, particularly when Lee gets to use two pairs of nunchaku at the same time. He also knows how to shoot these scenes most effectively, keeping wide as often as possible to let you see the footwork as well as the flying fists.

Overall then, whilst The Way of the Dragon doesn’t always hit the mark, it’s an admirably ambitious film for Lee, who tried to do things differently. It also contains some of his best fight scenes. Away from the action, the film is pretty shoddy though, with a flimsy story and weak humour.

Enter the Dragon

Director: Robert Clouse
Screenplay: Michael Allin, Bruce Lee (uncredited)
Starring: Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly, Ahna Capri, Shih Kien, Robert Wall, Angela Mao, Betty Chung
Country: Hong Kong, USA
Running Time: 102 min
Year: 1973

Enter the Dragon sees Lee play, er Lee, who is a martial artist recruited by a British intelligence agency to infiltrate an island fortress owned by the master criminal Han (Shih Kien). On top of one of his goons being behind the death of Lee’s sister (Angela Mao), Han is suspected of running a drug and prostitution ring, and Lee is tasked with gathering evidence to bring him down.

Lee enters a martial arts tournament hosted by Han as a way to gain access to the island. Along the way, he befriends two other fighters, Roper (John Saxon) and Williams (Jim Kelly), who have entered the tournament for their own reasons.

After the true nature of Han’s intentions behind the tournament and the reality of what is going on on his island becomes apparent, the trio must fight for justice.

Some purists, including Tony Rayns (if his interview in the extras is anything to go by), feel this Warner Bros./Concord/Golden Harvest co-production, directed by Robert Clouse, who had no experience working with martial arts sequences, is a kind of ‘watered-down’ version of Bruce Lee. I have to disagree though.

Yes, Clouse shoots too tight in the fight scenes and Lee could have carried the film without the need for two American co-stars. However, I feel the higher budget and Hollywood-level gloss give Lee the chance to truly shine in a super-slick, action-packed romp.

The plot is a bit of a James Bond knock-off but it’s a welcome change of pace for Lee and his charismatic performance style is perfect for that type of character.

Also, whilst it’s a shame Lee wasn’t the sole lead, I actually really enjoy Saxon and Kelly here. They too have a lot of charisma and give the film a lighter touch whereas Lee’s character takes his mission seriously. I particularly liked Kelly’s super-cool retorts and enjoyably smooth ways with the ladies.

Though the fight scenes could have done with more breathing room in the framing, Clouse and DOP Gil Hubbs, alongside the production design team, craft a handsome film and some fantastic set pieces. The finale in the hall of mirrors is particularly impressive.

And the fights are still wonderful. The one-on-ones in the tournament are suitably thrilling but it’s the scene where Lee takes on Han’s army of goons under the island that stands out for me. I’ve always had a thing for Lee’s nunchaku sequences and the one here is a doozy. When I first saw it, after previously only watching the butchered version on UK TV, it blew my mind, particularly as it was still, back then, the only Bruce Lee film I’d seen.

Oh, and I can’t tie this review up without mentioning Lalo Schifrin’s incredible score. Truly iconic, it’s a huge part of the film’s character and charm and is as funky as hell.

So, whilst I can appreciate why some prefer to fete Lee’s earlier Hong Kong output over this, I believe Enter the Dragon is his most well-rounded package. It was the film that introduced me to martial arts movies, so will always hold a special place in my heart and I still fall for its charms every time I see it. Tight, well-paced, action-packed and centred around a trio of charismatic performances, it’s a perfect night at the movies.

* You can hear me further sing the film’s praises in a ‘Movie of the Month’ episode of the Lambcast I co-hosted a couple of years ago, linked here.

Game of Death

Director: Robert Clouse, Bruce Lee (uncredited)
Screenplay: Robert Clouse, Bruce Lee (uncredited)
Starring: Bruce Lee, Gig Young, Colleen Camp, Dean Jagger, Hugh O’Brian, Robert Wall
Country: Hong Kong, USA
Running Time: 101 min
Year: 1978

As mentioned in my introduction, Game of Death was a film Lee was working on before his death but never completed. After a couple of years, Golden Harvest took the material shot (only about 11 minutes worth, in the end) and made an entirely different film around it.

In the resulting film, Lee (and a series of ‘look-a-likes’, including Kim Tai Jong and Yuen Biao) plays Billy Lo, a famous martial arts movie star who is also a skilled fighter in real life. He is targeted by a crime syndicate, who have helped him in the past and now want to force him and his fiancée, Ann Morris (Colleen Camp) to join their organization. Billy refuses, and the gang attempt to kill him.

Severely injured but surviving the attack, Billy uses the opportunity to fake his own death and go into hiding, so he can more effectively bring down the organisation.

Lee had high hopes for this, wanting to do something truly unique that could be profound to those willing to dig deep, whilst providing surface thrills for those simply wanting to see him kick ass. He wanted to put his philosophies on screen too, visualising the ethos behind Jeet Kune Do.

Sadly, a full script was never written for the film, so it’s hard to eke out his exact plans for it, and it would have likely been very difficult to make the concept work without Lee himself.

Instead, we’re left with a mess of daft ideas to help sell Billy’s changes of look and shoehorn in Lee’s footage at the end.

To be fair, if this wasn’t a Bruce Lee film, it could have been quite a fun little caper. Sammo Hung choreographed most of the new fight scenes and does a decent job, as you’d expect. Like in Enter the Dragon, the scenes Clouse directed are slick too and it’s all very well-paced. John Barry even provides a top-notch score.

However, it’s impossible to ignore the elephant in the room that is Bruce Lee. For one, the film is deeply tasteless and disrespectful towards his legacy. Not only have Lee’s wishes for the film been totally ignored, but Clouse and co. use actual footage of his funeral in their version, even including shots of his corpse in the open casket.

Possibly worse than that, the film manages to perpetuate some ridiculous myths that Lee faked his own death. There’s even a disgusting sequence that sees Lee’s character’s corpse exhumed and his face stabbed to reveal it’s a plaster or wax model.

Then you’ve got some of the Godawful ways they try to incorporate the ‘real’ Lee into the film. On top of some clunkily inserted shots from his earlier work, you get some embarrassingly bad processed shots and the notorious ‘picture stuck on a mirror’ scene (which I think is actually just a terrible processed shot).

When you finally get to the scenes Lee shot near the end of the film (plus a little of Tien’s fight from the original footage used earlier in a flashback) these are indeed excellent. We’ll never know how Lee’s Game of Death would have turned out (despite some wonderful reconstruction work done to what remains of the footage – see extras). However, what is left shows Lee’s keen eye for shooting enthralling action sequences that perfectly balance tension and potent bursts of energy.

It’s just such a shame Lee’s actual scenes are so truncated here. Thank God we’ve got the incredible ‘Final Game of Death’ included in this set to fill in the gaps and help us better appreciate what Lee might have had in store for us, had he lived to finish the film.

Game of Death II (a.k.a. Si wang ta or Tower of Death)

Director: Ng See-Yuen
Screenplay: Ting Chak-luen, Ho Ting-sing
Starring: Kim Tae-Jeong, Bruce Lee, Hwang Jang-Lee, Roy Horan, Roy Chiao, Hao Li-Jen, To Wai-Wo, Tiger Yang, Cheong-Woo, Lee Hoi-Sang, Casanova Wang Ho
Country: Hong Kong, South Korea
Running Time: 96 min (International cut), 86 min (Hong Kong cut)
Year: 1980

To top off the set’s fictional feature films (I’ll get to the documentaries in my review of the extra features), we get Game of Death II. This sees Lee (through archive footage and doubles) play Billy Lo once again, even if its narrative has very little to do with the first film.

Billy heads to Japan after his friend, Chin Ku (Hwang Jang Lee), is killed. He approaches Chin’s stepdaughter, May, who gives him a secret film that was entrusted to her. This prompts some bad guys to try to kill him, so Billy does some investigating.

However, when a helicopter appears at Chin’s funeral and takes the coffin away, Billy is killed trying to stop it. This shifts the film’s focus to Billy’s brother, Bobby (Kim Tae-Jeong), who wants to find out what happened and take revenge.

In his investigations, Bobby learns of Chin Ku’s link with the ‘Tower of Death’, run by the martial arts expert Lewis (Roy Horan). He heads over there and discovers Lewis is unhinged and those who challenge him and fail are fed to his lions!

Coming across numerous mysterious challenges along the way, Bobby must fight his way through the Tower of Death to get the vengeance he desires.

Let me be Frank, Game of Death II is absolute nonsense. The story is all over the place and it gets absurdly silly in places. However, I enjoyed the hell out of it. In fact, I much prefer it to Game of Death.

Granted, much of my enjoyment comes from the more ludicrous elements, such as the bizarre helicopter coffin theft, Lewis’ ability to control peacocks and a fight with a lion that’s clearly just a guy in a bad costume, but there is some quality kung-fu in here too. The great Yuen Woo-Ping provides the fight choreography and whilst it’s perhaps not his greatest work, he still does a decent job, throwing in some of his trademark use of props. One fight has Hwang Jang Lee fending off a challenger whilst drinking a cup of tea and another makes great use of sunglasses.

I thought the Bruce Lee footage was better utilised here too, with longer scenes played out with fresh dubbing, rather than slapping in quick shots or using dodgy special effects. I think it helped that I watched the film with the Cantonese track, so the dubbed-in voices were less ill-fitting.

I enjoyed Frankie Chan’s soundtrack too. Sometimes funky, sometimes moody or often both, it fits the film nicely and helps create a couple of super-cool sequences, such as Billy’s badass entrance to Chin Ku’s funeral.

So, ignore the Bruce Lee cut-and-paste factor (which is easier to do here) and pay little head to the nonsensical story. Instead, sit back and enjoy plenty of well-choreographed action alongside splashes of camp lunacy.

Bruce Lee at Golden Harvest is out now in ten-disc UHD/Blu-ray and ten-disc Blu-ray sets from Arrow Video. I watched the Blu-ray set and the transfers are excellent. Whilst the reinstated material on the Mandarin Cut of The Big Boss looks understandably rough when it appears and contains some burnt-in subtitles, the rest of the film looks incredible. Colours are far more natural and rich than the drab-looking MediumRare discs (see below), and the image is wonderfully sharp. Likewise, Fist of Fury looks fantastic, with gorgeous colours and pin-sharp details. Way of the Dragon looks softer than the others, due to technical issues. During production, the choice was made to use a different type of camera and film stock that the DOP Tadashi Nishimoto wanted to use because it was more in tune with Italian cinematography. Unfortunately, this led to some struggles with the equipment and a number of out-of-focus shots, as well as a generally grainier look. The colours are still a big step up from what we had before though and it likely looks as good as possible.

The Enter the Dragon disc is just the old Warner Brothers Blu-ray we’ve seen before. It doesn’t look as impressive as Arrow’s transfers for the first two films, with overly harsh contrast and a slightly soft image leading to a lack of detail.

The two Game of Death films are a mixed bag, due to how they were made. The older footage ‘borrowed’ from other Lee films and his original Game of Death material haven’t been treated very well on their insertion, so the quality shifts in-between sources. There’s nothing to be done about this though and Arrow have done their best with the material. The footage shot by Clouse for Game of Death looks gorgeous, in particular. Game of Death 2 shows signs of damage throughout but this is pretty light and, it must be noted, that I didn’t watch the international cut likely preferred by most.

I’ve used screengrabs throughout this review to give you an idea of how the films look. Please note, these images have been compressed.

On each film, you’re treated to a variety of soundtrack options. I don’t think anything is missing, so kudos to Arrow for going that extra mile. I had no issues with any of the soundtracks I chose for my viewing of the films (usually the Mandarin or Cantonese tracks). Each sounded clean and clear, albeit with some of the limitations of the original recordings being present.

Below are a couple of comparisons between the Arrow and MediumRare discs to give you an idea of the visual differences between them. These images have been compressed, so they aren’t 100% accurate but they certainly show the clear difference in colour.

Arrow Fist of Fury

MediumRare Fist of Fury

Arrow Fist of Fury

MediumRare Fist of Fury

Arrow Way of the Dragon

MediumRare Way of the Dragon

Arrow Way of the Dragon

MediumRare Way of the Dragon

Also, for reference, here’s a still from some of the re-inserted footage from The Big Boss Mandarin Cut (please note, this has some extra compression due to an error on my part that I didn’t have the time to correct, though it gives you an idea of the difference between that and the other material)

Please scroll past the epic list of extras to find my thoughts on them.

LIMITED TEN-DISC BLU-RAY COLLECTION CONTENTS (click here for details of the UHD version)

– 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


– High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation of the 99-minute 1983 version of The Big Boss, newly restored by Arrow Films from the original negative
– Original newly restored lossless Mandarin, English and Cantonese mono audio
– Two English mono options, the standard mix and a Japanese mix with alternate score
– Newly translated English subtitles, plus optional subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing for the English dubs
– 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
– Newly uncovered deleted and extended scenes, with optional commentary by Bentley
– 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
– Bruce Lee Vs. Peter Thomas, a short video essay about the music for the English version
– Alternate credits sequences
– Trailer gallery, including a ‘Before The Big Boss’ reel and the trailer for lost sequel The Big Boss Part II
– Image gallery


– High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations of three alternate versions of The Big Boss with lossless mono audio, newly restored by Arrow Films: the 110-min Mandarin Cut, with restored Mandarin mono; the 100-min English Export Cut, featuring a rare alternate English dub track (some scenes in Mandarin); and the 100-min US Theatrical Cut
– Newly restored English subtitles for the Mandarin Cut
– Subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing on both English cuts
– Axis of English, a brand new video essay by Will Offutt profiling the English dubbing actors for The Big Boss, Fist of Fury and The Way of the Dragon
– Unrestored raw scan of the Mandarin Cut


– High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation, newly restored by Arrow Films from the original negative
– Alternate ‘English Export Cut’ viewing option with different opening and closing credits, via seamless branching
– Original newly restored Mandarin, English and Cantonese mono audio
– Two English mono options, the standard mix and a Japanese mix with alternate music
– Newly translated English subtitles, plus optional subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing on the English dubs
– 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
– Visions of Fury, a new featurette on Bruce Lee’s collaboration with Golden Harvest and Lo Wei, featuring interviews with co-producer Andre Morgan and martial arts experts Michael Worth, Frank Djeng, John Kreng, Andy Cheng and Bruce Willow
– Archive interviews with co-stars Nora Miao, Riki Hashimoto, Jun Katsumura and Yuen Wah
– Alternate credits sequence
– Trailer gallery, including a Chen Zhen trailer reel
– Image gallery


– High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations, newly restored by Arrow Films from original film elements, of the Hong Kong Theatrical Cut and the Japanese Cut via seamless branching
– Original newly restored lossless Mandarin, English and Cantonese mono audio on the Hong Kong Theatrical Cut
– Alternate lossless English mono audio on the Japanese Cut
– Optional newly translated English subtitles
– Subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing on both English audio options
– 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
– Meet the Italian Beauty, a newly filmed interview with star Malisa Longo
– 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
– Trailer gallery, including a Bruceploitation trailer reel
– Image gallery


– 40th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-ray courtesy of Warner Home Video
– High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation of the extended 1998 Special Edition of the film
– 5.1 DTS-HD Surround English audio, plus additional audio options in Russian, Castilian, French, German, Italian, Polish and Latin Spanish
– English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, plus subtitles for other languages
– Feature commentary by writer Michael Allin and producer Paul Heller
– Featurettes: No Way As Way, Wing Chun: The Art that Introduced Kung Fu to Bruce Lee, Return to Han’s Island, Blood and Steel: The Making of ‘Enter the Dragon’, Bruce Lee: In His Own Words, Backyard Workout with Bruce
– The Curse of the Dragon documentary
– Interviews with Linda Lee Cadwell
– 1973 archive featurette Hong Kong with ‘Enter the Dragon’
– Theatrical trailers and TV spots


– High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations, newly restored by Arrow Films from original film elements, of the international cut and the Japanese cut via seamless branching
– Original newly restored English mono audio on both cuts
– English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
– Brand new feature commentary by Brandon Bentley & Mike Leeder
– The Song I’m Singing Tomorrow, a newly filmed interview with star Colleen Camp
– 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
– 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
– Fight scene dailies directed by Sammo Hung
– Locations featurette from 2013
– Trailer gallery, including Bruceploitation and ‘Robert Clouse at Golden Harvest’ trailer reels
– Image gallery


– High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation of the Chinese version of the film
– Original lossless Mandarin and Cantonese mono audio
– Newly translated optional English subtitles
– Archive interview with Casanova Wong from 2001 on his relationship with Sammo Hung, and Lee’s influence on him
– Two alternate Cantonese and Mandarin versions of the film in High Definition via seamless branching, with different credits, ending and reinstated Ji Han-jae fight (contains some standard-definition material)
– Archive featurettes on Lee’s life and impact: The Hong Kong Connection, Bruce Lee Remembered, Legacy of the Dragon, Dragon Rising and The Grandmaster & The Dragon, featuring interviews with Hung, Donnie Yen, William Cheung and many others
– 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


– The Final Game of Death, 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
– Game of Death: Revisited, an earlier attempt to reconstruct Lee’s original vision from 2001
– Super 8 footage from 1974 of Dan Inosanto demonstrating the nunchaku
– Brief archival interview with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from 1976
Image gallery


– Brand new 2K restoration of the International Cut of the film titled Game of Death II by Arrow Films from original film elements
– High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation of Game of Death II as well as the Hong Kong Theatrical Cut titled Tower of Death (contains some standard-definition material)
– Original lossless English mono audio on Game of Death II
– Original lossless Cantonese, Mandarin and English mono audio on Tower of Death
– English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing on Game of Death II, and optional newly translated English subtitles on Tower of Death
– Brand new feature commentary by Frank Djeng & Michael Worth, co-producers of Enter the Clones of Bruce
– Archive interview with co-star Roy Horan
– Alternate Korean version with unique footage, presented in High Definition with original lossless mono audio and newly translated English subtitles
– 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


– High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations of Bruce Lee: The Man & The Legend (1973) and Bruce Lee: The Legend (1984)
– Original lossless Mandarin mono audio for The Man & The Legend, and lossless English mono audio for both films
– Newly translated optional English subtitles for The Man & The Legend, and subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing for both films
– 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 gallery for both films

Wow, this is quite the mountain of supplements. I’m going to skip over the archival material that has already shown up on the HKL DVDs and MediumRare Blu-rays and focus on Arrow’s new treats, of which there are still many.

I’m not going to review the extras on Enter the Dragon either as it’s an old disc that’s been doing the rounds for a while and most of the extras have shown up on earlier DVDs too. It contains quite a lot of material, so is worthwhile, but the commentary is nowhere near as strong as the others we get in this set. The other extras also tend to lean towards promo material rather than offering valuable insight. They’re worth watching though.

So, without further ado, let’s dig into Arrow’s extras. Starting with the Big Boss discs, I’ve already talked about the famed Mandarin Cut, but you get four cuts of the film to choose from, in total. So fans can watch a variety of versions.

David Desser provides a commentary on the film where he does a great job of jumping between analysing the film and providing background on its production. It’s well-researched and engaging.

Brandon Bentley’s commentary similarly covers a vast amount of ground as he rattles through a mountain of fascinating facts about and interesting takes on the film.

Bentley also provides a separate selected scene commentary track over the new footage that appears in the Mandarin Cut. Here he discusses why these might have previously been cut and what they add to the film or sometimes why they might have been better off left cut out. Again, it’s very insightful.

‘The Not Quite Biggest Boss’ has Bentley discussing what is still missing from the film. This 8-minute piece will have you itching to go digging around Hong Kong for old film reels!

‘Axis of English’ provides a look at the dubbing of Lee’s films. Running for around half an hour, it’s a well-researched, fascinating tribute to a less respected side of the industry.

The Peter Thomas piece provides a brief look at how the musician got involved with The Big Boss, coming up with music for the release of the film outside of China.

‘The Big Boss: Return to Thailand’ takes us back to the film’s locations, even the hotels where Lee stayed during the production. It also tells the story of the production, using some written accounts from Lee himself. Including interviews with locals, some of whom were around during the production, it’s a well-made piece and an engaging watch.

There are also some wonderful trailers for Lee’s early US TV shows and film roles. It made me keen to see them re-released, particularly the old Green Hornet shows.

Moving on to the Fist of Fury disc, Jonathan Clements opens his commentary by stating he’s going to explore the history of the film, both of the legendary characters depicted on screen and the film itself. I found the former aspects particularly interesting.

Bentley crops up on the other commentary. As before, he provides an incredibly detailed deep dive into the film. There’s so much to glean from this and his other tracks in the set. He’s not afraid of pointing out the film’s various flaws either.

Tony Rayns spends an epic 82 mins discussing Lee’s life, career and legacy in his piece, entitled ‘Legend of the Dragon’. Though the basic story has been told elsewhere in the set, Rayns finds interesting takes on the subject. The piece also includes clips from Lee’s early work, which is interesting to see. What Rayns is particularly adept at is in placing Lee’s work amongst the cinematic and political landscapes of the times. It’s clearly a well-researched piece too, with Rayns dispelling a few myths and stories that sometimes Lee himself had embellished. As such, it feels far more authentic than the Golden Harvest documentaries included elsewhere in the set. Though, whilst I can see his points, I didn’t appreciate the bashing he gives Enter the Dragon. He also lays into Game of Death and its ‘sequel’ but that’s more understandable.

‘Visions of Fury’ is a well-made 35-minute piece that has a stellar line-up of contributors discussing the beginnings of Golden Harvest before talking about Bruce Lee’s two films made with Lo Wei. Golden Harvest Producer Andre Morgan adds some particularly interesting input, with his first-hand experience and knowledge.

Bentley looks at the two competing sequels to Fist of Fury in a 7-minute piece. He discusses their similarities and differences and how they relate to the original.

There’s a cool trailer reel of Chen Zhen films on the disc too, starting with the three unofficial sequels then moving through to the awesome Fist of Legend and all the way to more recent representations of the legendary character.

On to Way of the Dragon then. Frank Djeng and Michael Worth provide a commentary for the film, which the former calls “the quintessential Bruce Lee movie”. As is to be expected, it’s a hugely informative track with plenty of interesting facts about the production.

Bentley provides another commentary track too. Once again it takes a fascinating deep dive into the film and, whilst he repeats some of the facts we heard in the Djeng and Worth track, he does have a slightly different approach and it’s still well worth listening to both.

‘The Way of the Camera’, which runs around 51 minutes, is a sort of continuation of ‘Visions of Fury’, having the same contributors moving on to discuss Lee’s directorial debut, Way of the Dragon. The selection of filmmakers and experts discuss his directorial style and the input of DOP Tadashi Nishimoto, as well as how Lee inspired others. I really appreciated seeing actors John Saxon and Jon Benn in this nicely shot doc too.

‘Meet the Italian Beauty’ is an interview with Malisa Longo, who has a small but memorable part in Way of the Dragon. She gets a few facts about Lee wrong (claiming he didn’t speak great English and trained Chuck Norris), so isn’t the most informed interviewee but it’s interesting to hear about her career. I also appreciated her brutal honesty about the film and Lee as a director, and she has some fun stories to tell of her time shooting the film.

‘Scottish Soldier Meets the Dragon’ is an interview with John Young, a soldier who had the privilege of meeting Bruce Lee on the set of Way of the Dragon. I’m not quite sure how the set’s producers found out about Young but his story is heartfelt and entertaining.

In his select-scene commentary, Piet Schweer talks about his experiences making Way of the Dragon. It’s a very enjoyable look back, with plenty of fun anecdotes.

You get 11 mins of Brucesploitation trailers too, which are loads of fun. I do hope we get a box set of these at some point. Or a blaxploitation kung-fu crossover set with titles like The Black Dragon’s Revenge and Black Belt Jones.

Right, the Game of Death discs are next and they’re loaded with great material. Not least, housing several versions of the film, covering as many bases as possible.

Bentley is joined by Mike Leeder for the Game of Death commentary. It’s an enjoyable track that doesn’t shy away from the film’s many shortcomings. Leeder has fond memories of watching the film as a youngster though, so there’s love behind the bashing.

‘The Song I’m Singing Tomorrow’ allows Colleen Camp to talk about her experiences making Game of Death over roughly 13 minutes. She’s a pleasure to listen to, with some nice stories to tell about the production.

The deleted scenes are valuable here if, like me, you don’t have the time or patience to watch all the various cuts of the film. The different sequences are all here, as far as I’m aware. You can view the greenhouse fight, for instance, which is actually pretty good. I’m surprised it was cut from most versions of the film (though it shows up on some versions of Game of Death II).

There’s also a pre-production sales featurette from 1976 with commentary by Michael Worth and producer Andre Morgan. Morgan provides some refreshingly frank accounts of what Golden Harvest was trying to do in the years after Lee died.

The location featurette on the Game of Death disc is a much more basic affair than the one on The Big Boss. It didn’t do much for me, but some people love looking at how the locations have held up over the years.

Also on the Game of Death disc, you get some more fun trailer reels – one of more Brucesploitation films and another of Robert Clouse’s Golden Harvest movies. The former includes the hilarious ‘King of Kung Fu’ song, which weirdly isn’t on the trailer for the film of the same name, which, incidentally, looks like bonkers fun.

Among a lot of archival interviews, the Game of Death Alternative Versions disc has Lee’s original US screentest before landing his Kato role on The Green Hornet. Most of this appears on Bruce Lee: The Legend, but it’s still nice to have as a standalone piece.

On the other Game of Death bonus disc, I appreciated the inclusion of Super 8 footage of Dan Inosanto demonstrating the nunchaku. This looks to have been originally edited together to form a kind of training video, showing various moves through diagrams and demonstrations. The latter portion of the 9-and-a-half-minute film shows Inosanto demonstrating the moves on willing volunteers.

The brief archival interview with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar provides a touching tribute too.

The real treat on the Game of Death discs though is ‘Final Game of Death’. This is a tremendously ambitious piece from James Flower, running around 3 hours and 42 minutes. It uses all the remaining rushes from Lee’s original shoot, as well as some other film clips and promotional stills to dig incredibly deep into Lee’s plans for Game of Death.

With ambient underscoring and the presentation of so much raw footage, there’s an almost meditative quality to the piece that fits Lee’s desire to make a philosophical film out of Game of Death.

It’s an unusual approach that might test the patience of some but, personally, I felt like I’d been transported back to 1972 to witness the legendary shoot. The piece also helps give a firm understanding of Lee’s writing and directing style, particularly how he told a story through his fight scenes, as well as how he used them here to demonstrate his philosophies of Jeet Kune Do.

I also appreciated how this showed outtakes, demonstrating that Lee was only human and, most notably, could bugger up his usually mind-blowing nunchuck moves.

The big selling point of ‘Final Game of Death’ though is that it includes material never before seen in attempted recuts of the original material. Most notably, the famed ‘log fight’, featuring Chieh Yuan, is now here for all to see.

We also get to see some exterior fights shot on location. Shot quite simply, with a minimal crew, it’s unknown as to whether this was simply test footage or if it was intended to be used in Game of Death, but it’s a treat to see it all now. The fights don’t feature Lee, but do include some of the rest of the film’s cast.

After the rushes have played out, ‘Final Game of Death’ looks at what happened after the shoot, discussing Lee’s death and the flood of films exploiting his fame before describing how the film ended up being the Frankenstein’s monster it is today.

Then finally, the piece presents a reconstructed version of the footage, using sound effects taken from the Golden Harvest library and some new material shot using Lee’s notes to produce something resembling a portion of his possible intentions for the film. Running around 47 minutes, it’s a thrilling watch that feels wonderfully authentic. The dubbing is a bit corny, perhaps, but it fits the time and place it originally came from. I love the animated title sequence too.

Taken as a whole then, Final Game of Death is one of the most impressive, valuable and compelling extra features I’ve ever seen. If anyone’s wondering whether or not to upgrade from Criterion’s Bruce Lee set or the MediumRare one, this should make up your mind.

Game of Death Revisited is an earlier attempt to edit together the remaining footage Lee shot. It also does a decent job, though is missing some material and I don’t like the music choices here as much as Flowers’.

On the Game of Death II disc, Michael Worth and Frank Djeng provide a commentary for the film. I was pleased to hear the pair appreciate the film as a decent martial arts movie, even if it’s a piece of blatant exploitation with a number of script issues. They can always be depended on to provide an enjoyable chat track stuffed with interesting tidbits.

There were various versions of the film made and many of these are included on the disc too. I opted for the shorter Hong Kong cut by accident (my tired eyes thought it was longer) but I actually appreciated this cut as I do prefer to watch without dubbing when most of the cast are not native English speakers.

There’s an archive interview with Roy Horan on the disc too. I know I’ve skipped over most of the archival material but I thought I’d point this one out as I think it’s only previously been available on the old HKL DVD. He talks about his life and career. With some time spent with Native Americans as a trapper before moving to Japan and later Taiwan, his story is a fascinating one. He has some tales to tell of his unusual martial arts training too.

There are more Brucesploitation trailers on the Game of Death II disc, this time 25mins worth. These are loads of fun and some even look like genuinely good martial arts movies. I also loved the fact one of the trailers had stolen music from Star Wars as its soundtrack!

And finally, there’s the Documentaries disc, which is largely made up of the two documentaries Golden Harvest made to either honour Lee’s life or exploit it, depending on your point of view. Both films have been nicely restored, which shows the level of detail and effort Arrow have put into this project.

Bruce Lee: The Man and the Legend begins and ends with Lee’s funerals (he had a public one and a slightly more private one). There’s something exploitative and uncomfortable to me in being shown these people in mourning, particularly Linda and her children. The overblown voiceover and music don’t help. Plus, showing his actual corpse felt pretty tasteless.

This and The Legend, which I’ll get to later, both share a lot of footage from the funerals and the Lee family home. I felt it was quite tastefully used in the other doc but here it all feels rather voyeuristic, coming so soon after his death, particularly given how morbidly it’s focussed on in the early portions of the film.

After 20 minutes, the doc thankfully goes back to look over Lee’s life. Here we get some welcome clips from his early film appearances and childhood photos.

There’s quite a lot of crossover between this and The Legend and, in both, a lot of time is made up of clips from his Golden Harvest films. However, marking The Man and the Legend out against the later doc are a few ‘reconstructions’, including some fight scenes which are fun to watch, as well as a bit more time spent with his martial arts teachers. There’s also an interesting section where we hear Lee himself describe his plans for an unusual scene in Way of the Dragon that never happened.

There are a few baggy sections, where it holds too long on a montage. In general, it’s not as tight as The Legend.

The Man and the Legend was made and released before Game of Death was revisited and reworked, so it would have been the first time audiences were able to see the clips from Lee’s material.

Bruce Lee: The Legend opens with shots from assumably a Golden Harvest wuxia film and has some other clips from the studio’s movies shown throughout, to plug their wares I guess. The documentary tells Lee’s story, from childhood to his untimely death.

Like its predecessor, the documentary’s style is a little dated perhaps, with its corny voiceover and chapters separated by shots of a book’s pages being turned. However, I did prefer this to The Man and the Legend.

There are some more wonderful clips from Lee’s earliest film roles as a child, as well as a lot of archival personal photos. I enjoyed seeing his American screen test too. Later, we see behind the scenes of some of Lee’s films. There’s a random sequence showing Leung Kar-yan pumping iron too. There are also a few deleted scenes and tests for Game of Death, as well as some wonderful behind-the-scenes footage of Sammo Hung directing Yuen Biao in a screen test to see if he would be a suitable stand-in for Lee.

Some time is surprisingly spent analysing his films, discussing their connective themes. It’s hardly deep stuff, but helps you appreciate how Lee put some of himself into his films and how he could be described as an auteur. I was more interested in the biographical aspects though.

There’s also a section on Jeet Kune Do, which has some cool demos of the martial art.

Of course, the later portions cover his sudden death and the aftermath, with footage from both his funerals. Betty Ting Pei is interviewed, attempting to quash the rumours about her and Lee’s relationship and her role in his death.

It all ends with how Game of Death was put together and provides a look to future kung-fu movie stars, putting in a plug for Jackie Chan. The credits run over some outtakes from Game of Death.

The Golden Harvest tour also included on the documentary disc is pretty loose, made up of fairly raw footage of a quick tour of the old studios. There are only a few audible comments from our guide, so it’s not particularly informative, but it’s nice to see where all the magic happened.

Unfortunately, I didn’t receive a copy of the book or any other physical extras to comment on those.

What can I say? Arrow’s Bruce Lee at Golden Harvest set is simply magnificent and I have little doubt it’ll be the release of the year in any territory. Yes, Lee’s films have been released on Blu-ray before, even by the renowned Criterion Collection, but Arrow have gone above and beyond here (plus 4K collectors have the bonus of the films on UHD). No stone has been left unturned and the films look and sound as good as possible. Yes, it’s not a cheap set for what seems, on the surface, to contain only six films, but it offers way more than that. Do yourself a favour and buy the set now before it sells out. You won’t regret it.


Where to watch Enter the Dragon
Bruce Lee at Golden Harvest - Arrow
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About The Author

Editor of films and videos as well as of this site. On top of his passion for film, he also has a great love for music and his family.

2 Responses

  1. MovieFeast

    Great article, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen any Bruce Lee films, have great memories of them, I remember seeing Way Of The Dragon back in the late 90s when channel 4 were showing martial arts films every Friday night, great times. And the extended cut of The Big Boss looks good.

    • William Ferguson

      Disc 3 appears to be missing the Japanese “English” version.


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