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  Challenge of the Tiger Bruiser BruceBuy this film here.
Year: 1980
Director: Bruce Le
Stars: Bruce Le, Richard Harrison, Hwang Jung-Lee, Nadiuska, Brad Harris, May Hong, Tito Garcia, Chang Tao, Sharon Shira, Bolo Yeung, Josef Laufer, Dick Randall
Genre: Martial Arts, Trash, Adventure
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: Two scientists are slaving away over a formula to make men sterile and have conducted experiments on animals to that effect. Suddenly, one of them exclaims he has succeeded, and the other congratulates him with a long, warm hug. But just as suddenly, a pair of ski masked attackers burst into the room and shoot the boffins dead! Now the formula for this spermicide has been stolen, and the virility of the male population of the planet is in jeopardy, so the C.I.A. is brought in to put a stop to this threat. Their solution? They place two of their best men on the job, millionaire playboy Richard Cannon (Richard Harrison) and martial arts expert Huang Lung (Bruce Le) – unbeatable!

The story of the Bruce Lee clones is a familiar one to vintage martial arts flick fans, but in a nutshell, after the superstar's shock death, the world was hungry for his output, the problem being that there were really only four films he completed as the leading man. Therefore every last scrap of footage left over was implemented, and more than that, pretenders to his throne were renamed with monikers intended to be reminiscent of him: Bruce Li, Bruce Liang, and of course, Bruce Le, possibly the cheekiest of the lot since his new name looked the most like a misprint. But you would have to be particularly obtuse not to realise something like Challenge of the Tiger was not the real deal.

Even if you did not spot that it was made seven years after Bruce Lee died, his sort-of-namesake did not look too much like his idol, aside from his ethnicity. Here sporting a mop of hair and only occasionally remembering to include the Lee tics that had become famous from Enter the Dragon, such as rubbing his nose with his thumb, Le by this time must have realised the game was up, and though here he had been successful enough to manage a director's credit as well as a co-writing one, this remained a painfully low budget affair that was only enlivened by the star opening a can of whoop-ass on various extras and the cast members playing the henchmen of the evil syndicate.

Although that is not what every fan of this tat will point out as the best parts, for Le had corralled a group of ladies who could be persuaded to part with their clothes for certain scenes, most infamously in the first five minutes as we were introduced to Harrison's lifestyle. He was the man who had turned down Clint Eastwood's role in A Fistful of Dollars and was destined to live out his career in this kind of purgatory for his lack of foresight, but one guesses there were compensations, like a tennis match against a topless, slow motion lady (equally topless ballgirls assist), or snogging a different topless lady by his pool, which inexplicably features a urinating boy statue that one of the topless ladies enjoys drinking from. Really, this was so boggling that it overshadowed the rest of the movie in its decadence.

So what of the rest of that movie? Well, if it was not the nudity you were captivated by, how about the violence? The back of a beermat script had our heroes trying to get the formula back, more by luck than design, by going undercover but not so undercover that the villains are unaware of whose side they are on. This unfolded with such diversions as a bullfight, where Bruce got in the ring and battled the beast for no apparent reason (he could have simply left at any time), getting the better of it by cracking its skull in a brief cartoon sequence. Naturally, this was stupid enough to be amusing should you be in the correct mood, but good, or even accomplished, it was not, as Harrison took care of the James Bond lothario business and Le the action, though his colleague did offer up a few punches - shooting bad guys was his forte, however. Aficionados would welcome Hwang Jung-Lee and Bolo Yeung cropping up as foes, but nobody was at their best, though it was absolutely ridiculous, and that can be enough. Bombastic music by Chou Fu Liang.

Aka: Mie jue qi qi
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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