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‘Enter the Clones of Bruce’ review: Outrageous, shocking, and disgusting film highlights impact of Bruce Lee

Imitation is the sincerest form.

It is impossible to overstate the cultural impact of Bruce Lee. His star was just beginning to rise when he suddenly died in 1973. After his death he became a global icon. His name and image became synonymous with badassery, and to this day he is revered. (Check out the controversy around the Bruce Lee scene in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.)

Enter the Clones of Bruce examines another part of the phenomenon: Bruceploitation. It is easy to forget that the height of Lee’s fame encompassed five movies – two of which were released posthumously. As the documentary does a great job of explaining, Bruce Lee had almost become a mythical being. Actors from Thailand to South Korea using stage names like Bruce Li and Bruce Le starred in a number of vehicles meant to fill the appetite for the deceased star.

Filmmaker David Gregory (Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Doctor Moreau) uses interviews and footage to showcase the lengths the studios would go to in order to capitalize on Lee’s immense popularity. Scenes and costumes are taken almost exactly from the source material, misleading movie posters were released, and even footage of the surging star’s actual funeral were used. It would be funny if it was not so disgusting and shocking.

The biggest takeaway from Enter the Clones of Bruce is not how low studios will sink, however. Ironically, it is the love and respect for the iconic Lee. Where movie producers and theaters used his name and likeness to their advantage, the actors that took his name speak of him reverently. The effect Lee had on them goes beyond their careers. 

While the focus is on the many Bruce Lee clones, it also goes into the filmmaking aspect of the many films. (There are almost 200 Bruceploitation releases.) For some, these will be the most interesting parts of Enter the Clones of Bruce. Discussions of guerilla filmmaking are always fun and the example shown of the improvisational nature of the scripts is a definite highlight. 

As recently as 2020, ESPN released a documentary about Bruce Lee. Enter the Clones of Bruce also looks at the wide ranging influence of the actor, but in a completely different way. It is an often outrageous, but still sobering look at what could have been. It may sound like a silly premise, but its unique approach makes it one of the most interesting films about Lee ever made.

Enter the Clones of Bruce opens theatrically April 12

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