• Bruce’s Deadly Fingers

    Released by: VCI Entertainment
    Released on: May 8th, 2018.
    Director: Joseph Kong
    Cast: Bruce Le, Chen Wai-Man, Lo Lieh, Nora Miao, Bolo Yeung
    Year: 1976
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    The Movie:

    OK, how do we sort this out…. so there’s a gangster played by Lo Lieh who really wants to get his hands on the ‘Kung Fu Finger Book,’ which was written by Bruce Lee before he died. He and his cronies decide that the best way to do this is to kidnap Bruce Lee's ex-girlfriend. While this is going on, a young martial artist who bears an uncanny resemblance to Bruce Lee named Bruce Wong (played by Bruce Le) returns back home to Hong Kong after spending some time abroad.

    When he gets back, he learns that his mother his died and that his sister has been kidnapped! See, her boyfriend owed some money to Lo Lieh’s character – gambling debts, it’s always gambling debts – and in order to not get his legs broken, this boyfriend has agreed to basically pimp Bruce Wong’s sister out! At any rate, as Bruce Wong gets pulled deeper into the Hong Kong underworld to find his sister, he gets a few pals from his old school to help him out. From there, they all get tied up in the plot to find the kung fu finger book and it just sort of loses control from there.

    Watch this in English and take a drink anytime someone says ‘kung fu finger book’ and you’ll be absolutely shitfaced by the half hour mark and in need of medical attention before it’s over. But this has more to offer than just a good drinking game concept. We get a nasty scene where the bad guys torture a girl by putting a live snake down her pants! We get a scene where people having sex get stuck in the middle of a very real ring of fire (it looks and probably was surprisingly dangerous – clearly this was not a union shoot!). We even get a great – albeit brief – appearance from the great Bolo Yeung! Oh, and we also get a nunchuck scene, just for good measure.

    The pacing is uneven and at times you get the impression that Kong and company were just making all of this up as they went along, but if you’re in the right frame of mind for it (and maybe not in a particularly discerning mood) then this is a pretty fun way to kill an hour and a half. Bruce Le doesn’t have a whole lot of charisma but he does have a whole lot of cool outfits and Lo Lieh is definitely ‘in his element’ here, playing the sinister villain very well (he really is the best of the seventies bad guy actors in the Hong Kong scene of the day). Bolo’s fight is pretty great and if Le can’t hold a candle to Lee, he’s got a few pretty solid moves here.

    The fact that we spend an inordinate amount of time with completely unnecessary dialogue that does nothing to move the plot forward is compensated for with some amusing dubbing and a genuinely cool soundtrack. Oh, and there are some pretty funny James Bond stings swiped for use in the picture too. The ending, which we won’t spoil here, is also completely bonkers in the best way possible.


    VCI presents the film on Blu-ray in a ‘new 2K transfer from the original 35mm film negative’ that would probably look pretty good if it didn’t have some rather overzealous digital noise reduction applied to it – but sadly that’s not the case. Skin tones, as such, are waxy and no one has any pores. Color reproduction is okay, if occasionally uneven and detail is… inconsistent. Some shots look good, some others not so good in that regard. The film is properly framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition on a 50GB disc with the feature taking up just over 26GBs of space - which is respectable, yet there are compression issues here. This is perfectly watchable, but it could have been better.

    There’s only one audio option here, and it’s an English dub presented in 16-bit LPCM Mono. Optional subtitles are presented in English only. Quality is okay – not great, but okay (especially if you're used to the way that old English dubs typically sound on martial arts imports). Dialogue is easy enough to follow but there’s a bit of hiss and distortion here and there. It’d be rad if someone put the score out on vinyl or CD though – it’s kickin’!

    Extras on this disc start off with a commentary from Bruceploitation expert Michael Worth who does a really nice job of filling in the blanks here as best he can. He talks up Bruce Li’s abilities and gives us some background information on how he came to be a player in this as well as a fair bit of insight into Kong’s directing style and history. He also talks up Lo Lieh and Bolo a fair bit, noting quite rightly that seeing Bruce Le fight Bolo here kinda-sorta makes up for the fact that the real Bruce Lee never got to fight him on screen in Enter The Dragon. He makes plenty of interesting observations throughout the movie and this proves to be a worthwhile listen, even if there is a little bit of dead air here and there.

    Up next is six-minutes of scenes cut from the U.S. release of the film, presented in Chinese with English subtitles. Here we see some opium smoking weirdness and a dialogue scene with Bruce Le and his pals on a rooftop that leads to some wonky comic relief exercise footage that leads to a phone call with Bruce. After that there’s a silent bonus scene that is more of the weird little dude exercising.

    The disc also includes a trailer for the feature and a selection of trailers showcasing a few legitimate Bruce Lee films alongside a few other Brucesploitation pictures. Additionally, there’s a featurette here called Bad Kung Fu Dubs that is six-and-a-half-minutes of exactly that – clips of bad dubbing from the movie. Menus and chapter stops are also included and as this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD disc inside the clear Blu-ray keepcase, and some keen reversible cover art.

    The Final Word:

    Bruce’s Deadly Fingers is a pretty fun watch, an entertaining hour and a half of action and nonsense done in that delightfully unhinged style that makes Hong Kong films from the seventies so much fun. VCI’s Blu-ray presents the film in decent shape but with more noise reduction than anyone probably needed. The commentary is worth checking out though, and the other bonus features are fun.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!