I Am Bruce Lee is a documentary currently airing on Spike TV. It follows the life of Bruce Lee until his tragic death in 1973. Featuring interviews with Mickey Rourke (actor), Dana White (President of UFC), Stephan Bonnar (UFC fighter), Linda Lee Caldwell (Lee’s wife), Shannon Lee (Lee’s daughter), Ed O’Neill (actor) and more, they share their insights into the cultural and martial arts influence of Lee. Many of the interviews are from friends and family. They are interspersed with footage of Lee from interviews and behind the scenes while making films.
While this is a very decent documentary and has enjoyed limited theatrical screening, to me it completely came across as a one sided propaganda piece. They focus almost solely on the good points of Lee and very little on his reported temper. It is mentioned, but this piece plays out like an effort to give Lee sainthood.While this is understandable from his daughter and wife, you would think that some of the actors he worked with would have some juicy behind the scenes stories that you just don’t get here.
While Lee is considered a cultural icon and one of the most influential people of the 20th Century, this film also tries to make the case that Bruce Lee is the father of the current MMA form. While I don’t deny he had some influence, the simple fact that it took 30 years after his death for MMA to become popular is proof that he wasn’t the father.
As a martial artist, Lee is still very much an influence and this documentary speaks to his popularity almost 40 years after his death. It is clear that there are a lot of people who still love and admire him. It’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t have gotten a complete documentary covering both sides of the story. What we get is a film to the sainthood of Bruce Lee. I mean no offense to anyone, I just would have liked to have seen a more well rounded effort.
**1/2 out of ****