Bruce Lee: The Legacy Collection (Blu-ray Review)

bruce lee setLegendary cultural icon Bruce Lee continues to be an unstoppable force, unbeatable warrior and an unforgettable star. He is the very face of martial arts mastery, the inspiration for millions to walk an enlightened path and mentor to the greatest stars and fighters the world over. He became a hero to those who knew him in life and, following his death, a legend to all. Since his incredible rise to fame nearly five decades ago, audiences across the globe have been amazed by the supreme talents and undeniable charisma that make Lee such a beloved icon.  Loyal fans, movie collectors, pop culture and martial arts enthusiasts will be treated to a whole new home entertainment experience to celebrate the life and brilliance of the late Bruce Lee when The Bruce Lee Legacy Collection 11-Disc Blu-ray+ DVD box set presentation from Shout! Factory.  Three feature-length documentaries Bruce Lee: The Legend (and the original version Bruce Lee: The Man, The Legend), the critically acclaimed I Am Bruce Lee and The Grandmaster and the Dragon: William Cheung and Bruce Lee; a special bonus disc with hours of new bonus content exclusive to this set, and four DVDs of aforementioned action-packed classics. A fitting tribute and celebration in honor of the legend, these sumptuous offerings are collected in a deluxe book-style packaging, brimming with 68 pages of archival materials, rare and never-before-released photos, new essay on Lee’s amazing career, and much more!



When I heard that this Bruce Lee Legacy Collection was coming out, I knew that I had to see it since he is my favorite martial artist.  Let’s be honest here…Bruce Lee’s name is synonymous with martial arts.  It’s now impossible to think of any form of martial arts without thinking of him.  That’s really impressive if you think about it as who else has that kind of name recognition in their profession?  Secondly, I can’t think of anyone who worked as hard to be the best at what he did than Bruce Lee.  All you have to do is see him in action to be amazed at how fast, accurate, muscular, and badass he was. When his shirt is ripped off (and it usually was), you’d see muscles on his body that you didn’t even knew existed.

When this set was originally released back last July, it apparently had labeling issues on some of the discs and as it turns out, the wrong video transfers for The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, and Way of the Dragon.  Once Shout! Factory realized those mistakes, they made the decision to do the right thing and fix the problems and reissue the set.  Here’s what they said they fixed in their own words, “[We] correct[ed] [the] pairing of disc label art and media for discs 10 and 11, which had inadvertently been swapped on the original release [and issued] new Blu-rays for The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Way of the Dragon. Contrary to speculation circulating on the internet, the original set did contain hi-def masters of the first three feature films. However, after comments from fans who had received early copies of our set, we discovered that our sources were not the recently restored transfers used for the Blu-rays in Hong Kong and Japan, but rather the original masters done a few years ago in Canada. We therefore acquired the improved masters (the master for Game of Death was no appreciably different), and have included them on this new set, for a truly definitive Bruce Lee collection.”  For this review, I will be using covering the newly issued discs.

The Big Boss  

big bossBruce Lee stars as Cheng, a man from China who joins his uncle in Thailand to work in an ice factory.    Cheng had some trouble back home and had promised his mother he wouldn’t be involved in any kind of fighting again, a promise that his uncle intends to hold him to. Cheng’s fellow workers are unhappy with the treatment they are receiving from the ice company management.

When a block of ice is accidentally broken, the workers discover that it’s filled with a bag of white powder which makes them suspicious that the factory is a front for a drug smuggling ring.  Several of Cheng’s cousins are asked to meet with the factory’s manager but who offers them the chance to work as part of the drug operation.  When they refuse, they are killed and the next day their co-workers wonder what happened to them and they start complaining and tensions mount at the factory between the workers and the guards.

Two more cousins venture to the owner of the factory, Hsaiao Mi and they are also killed for asking too many questions. By this point, the workers are about to riot, but the Big Boss shrewdly makes Cheng the foreman which he knows will defuse the situation and it works.  The only problem is that Cheng is seduced by his new-found success and is plied with alcohol and prostitutes.  When one of the prosititutes tells Cheng the truth about what happened to his cousins, he breaks into the factory and discovers their hidden bodies.  When his is caught by the smugglers, he has to forego his promise not to fight as it’s his only option to escape.  During that fight to get away, he ends up killing the factory owners’ son.  When he returns home he finds out that every one of his family members and coworkers have been murdered.  Cheng decides to exact revenge on the factory owner and decides to take him and all of his guards on in a mission of vengeance.

I’ve got to say that out of all of the movies on this set, this one is my least favorite.  I watch Bruce Lee movies to see him do what he does best – kick ass and take names.  In The Big Boss, he doesn’t even do anything for around twenty minutes thanks to his “promise.”  Maybe if I had seen this movie along with everyone else when this came out, I’d have more patience and understanding at having to wait, but I’m coming from the other side where one of my favorite movies of all time is Enter the Dragon.  Going from his best movie to his worst, probably makes me less charitable than I should be, but this one has a plot that doesn’t make much sense and it take a long time to get going.   Bruce Lee wasn’t supposed to be the main star of this movie, but by the end of it, there’s no doubt who is the real star.


Fist of Fury   


In this film, Bruce Lee  stars as Chen Zhen who returns back to Shanghai to marry his fiancee and to see his old martial arts school.  The instructor of his Jingwu school has died suspiciously and his fellow students suspect a rival school of Japanese martial artists could involved.  During his master’s funeral, the Japanese students show up to taunt and insult the Jingwu students who don’t fight back out of respect for their fallen master.

Chen on the other hand, has no qualms in getting even with the Japanese students and he goes to visit the school alone to challenge them.  The Japanese students don’t view Chen as a threat until he beats all of them single-handed which brings the school much shame. Afterwards, while Chen is being discriminated against at a local park, the Japanese students retaliate against the Jingwu school by causing a lot of damage and beating up the students.

When Chen returns to the school he realizes the trouble he has caused but he’s determined to find out what happened to his master.  That night, he discovers that his master was poisoned by the cook who works for the Japanese school’s owner Suzuki.  In a rage, Chen kills the cook and an accomplice and hangs them up by a lamp post.  The killing unsettles the locals and unfortunately for all of them, Suzuki also has a lot of power in the city and uses his influence to get the police to go after Chen.  Suzuki also has his strong man friend Petrov visiting with him and to offer some him protection which he’s going to need once he orders that everyone in the Jingwu school be killed.  He knows it’s just a matter of time before Chen comes for him.

I had never seen this movie before and I’m glad that it was included in this set as I really enjoyed it despite its downer of an ending.  This time Bruce Lee is unquestionably the star of the movie and he doesn’t waste a chunk of the movie’s running time standing on the sidelines.  There are some terrific fights in this movie and this probably my second favorite Bruce Lee movie.  Watching him take on the entire Japanese dojo was something to see.  He’s amazing to watch and he’s lightning fast and this movie proved that he was a major movie star.

 The Way of the Dragon      

wayofthedragonTang Lung (Bruce Lee) is sent from Hong Kong to Rome to help his Uncle Wang and his niece Chen Ching-hua, whose restaurant is essentially shut down thanks to the local mafia.   During their downtime the restaurants workers practice martial arts until Tang shows them his style of chinese boxing.  When the mafia enforces return to intimidate everyone at the restaurant, Tang easily takes care of them which makes him a hero to those he defended.

The mafia boss isn’t pleased to hear that his men were beaten so he sends a gunman to kill Tang, but Tang once again is victorious.  He sends more enforces to the restaurant but Tang beats them too.  At this point, it’s gotten embarrassing for him so he hires a sniper to kill Tang but the sniper fails too.  The boss gets more desperate and kidnaps Chen to force her to sign the contact to give him the restaurant, but Tang and his friends save her.  With no other option left, the mafia boss agrees to hire three foreign martial artists to take out Tang including the best one of the bunch, a man from America named Colt (Chuck Norris).

The Way of the Dragon is the only film that Bruce Lee wrote, produced, and directed and it has an interesting blend of comedy and action.  It’s easy to see how this film influenced a bunch of other martial arts starts like Jackie Chan who would later make their own hybrid movies.  Not all of the comedy in this film works as a lot of it is pretty silly and some of it is dated and other aspects could be offensive to others.  The action in it is good but it looks fairly low budget.  Easily the best part of this film is the final fight between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris which is like a geek fantasy come true.   It’s  one of Bruce Lee’s best fights of his career and one of the best ever captured on film.

 Game of Death      

game of death

There’s two versions of this movie – the one from 1973 that Bruce directed before stopping the filming to take advantage of the opportunity to make Enter the Dragon for Warner Brothers and then there’s the 1978 version that was released after Lee’s tragic death.  This 1978 version is the version that’s included here (although Shout Factory included the 40 minutes of Lee’s original footage as an extra in this set).  This version took some of Lee’s footage and added their own to it to create an entirely different movie with a completely different plot.  To achieve that, the new director Robert Clouse used to body double for Lee and neither one of them looked like him at all.  In this version of the film, a new character called Billy Lo is an actor who is trying to fend off the mob from managing his career.  The conceit of the film is that the character is essentially Bruce Lee and they’ve incorporated footage from scenes from his past movies and then replicated them so as to give the appearance of Billy filming those scenes so we can see what happens behind the scenes.  It’s a technique that was used much better in Back to the Future Part II, but the concept does work for this film.  One thing that I did like was the opening titles which reminded me of Bond films as does the music which I made sense later once I learned that it was composed by Bond composer John Barry.

Lee’s original plan for Game of Death was to show his character encounter a new opponent for every level of a building and each of them would utilize a different fighting style.  Lee wanted to show how his own fighting style Jeet Kune Do ( which means “style without style” or “the art of fighting without fighting”) could beat the other styles of fighting which he considered to be too rigid and fixed.  That concept is very cool and I would have loved to have seen the finished version but Robert Clouse decided against following that plot (even though he had most of the movie completed by Lee) because he felt that the concept had been done too many times since Lee’s passing.  So in the new 1978 version, Billy goes up against Dr. Land (Dean Jagger), his number two man Steiner (Hugh O’Brien, his hit-man Stick (Mel Novak), and the rest of the henchmen.

When Billy refuses to bow to their demands, Dr. Land orders that him be killed immediately to serve as an example to others who don’t comply.  So on the set of Fist of Fury, in filming what would be the final shot of the movie, Billy is shot in the face and believed dead.  Billy survives (or there would be no movie) and he decides to have plastic surgery and to fake his own death to protect his fiancee Ann Morris (Colleen Camp) and to give him a chance to get revenge on those who wronged him.  It’s at this point that the film lost me.  Not content to cannibalize Lee’s superior film, Clouse has the gall to actually use real footage from Lee’s funeral including shots of Lee’s body in the casket too.  It’s tasteless and there was no reason to include it except for the filmmakers to capitalize on Lee’s death to make their low budget film appear much bigger than it really was and to add a morbid sensationalism to draw audiences in.

For the rest of the movie, the character Billy is either hiding his face behind something or has his back to the camera so as to not reveal that it’s not Bruce Lee.  What makes no sense though is that after all of that very obvious effort, there’s several shots where they clearly show the body double’s face.  And instead of Lee going through a competition to see who was the best, instead Billy just goes up some floors of a restaurant to get to the top floor where Dr. Land is hiding.  This is the point where we can finally see more of Bruce Lee and his film that before and of course it’s the best part.  There isn’t a whole lot of it but I had assumed that it was because that was all of the footage they had and that they had just built this movie around that footage.  Needless to say, once I saw how much more footage there was of Lee’s original movie that was left out of the ’78 version I was very unhappy.  While I love Robert Clouse’s Enter the Dragon and consider it to be Bruce Lee’s best film, my respect for him really dropped after seeing this mess.  If he had shown more respect for his former star and just added a beginning to what was already shot, this could have been a great film.  By choosing to create a new film with only snippets of what Lee had actually done, was disrespectful and a bad decision.  Even the addition of frequent co-stars from Lee’s past movies wasn’t enough to save this film which is a shame because if Lee had survived to finish it, it could have been his finest film.  As it is, we’re lucky that Shout Factory was kind enough to give us the forty minute of real footage to see what might have been.



As I mentioned earlier, three of these four films (The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Way of the Dragon) have been reissued with new transfers now that Shout Factory has corrected their mistake.  I will be reviewing the new discs which look much better than the previous releases.

The Big Boss  

This new 1080p (2.35:1) transfer not only looks much better but it also seems to have been color corrected a lot more accurately as well.  The detail level is pretty good for a film this old and when taking account for the source material. Colors  look well delineated and the black levels are suitably dark and inky.  This film was one of the nicer looking films in the original batch and it looks even better now.  It now has only a minimal amount of grain now but doesn’t appear overly scrubbed by DNR.

Fist of Fury      

I was really hoping that the new 1080p (2.35:1) transfer was a lot better than the original version and while it is better it’s still not as awesome as I was hoping it would be.  This too looks color corrected and I prefer this new version despite the overall darker image.  Details are sharper for the most part but the close ups remain soft looking which I’m now thinking must be due to the source material and not the transfer.  Compared to The Big Boss’s transfer, Fist of Fury has a lot more grain but it’s not too much and it really doesn’t’ detract from the film, it just makes it look more cinematic which I’m sure the purists will appreciate.

The Way of the Dragon  

Out of the three new transfers for this set, The Way of the Dragon is the one that benefited the most from being reissued. This 1080p (2.35:1) transfer looks much better than the original release as the film’s clarity and detail have been much improved upon.  The original version of this film looked pretty rough and although this new transfer is much better there’s still some issues still present  at different points in the film which may be due to the source material.  Shots that look unfocused, indistinct figures in the distance, problems with the contrast levels, and a lot of grain are the major issues with this transfer.  One of the ones that has been corrected in this new version is the noise that made a frequent appearance in the previous release.  Now it’s barely present which is a nice change.  This is far from a perfect looking movie, but it is a lot better than the original release and I’m glad that Shout Factory took the time to try to improve upon it.

Game of Death      

As I mentioned earlier, this is the one transfer that was not reissued with a new one as Shout Factory stated that the difference in quality between the two was negligible.   So this 1080p (2.35:1) transfer is the same one that came in the first release of this set.  The expectations for this transfer should not be high as there’s no way that it could possibly look anywhere as good as the other three movies thanks to the way the film was put together.  There’s no way that you can combine the footage from several old movies along with newly shot footage and have it look good or cohesive at all.  The various films used different film stocks which contributes to a wide spectrum of grain variance between them as well as the level of sharpness and colors.  Even if you give a pass to the older film stock that’s been included in this film the newer footage shot in 1978 doesn’t look that great either and none of it matches up.  The black levels look washed out during the night scenes and there’s quite a bit of grain present as well.



In recognition of Bruce Lee’s international appeal, Shout Factory has included a lot of different audio options for audience member across the world.  Included are: Original Mandarin Mono, Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English DTS Mono, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Cantonese Mono, and the various English dubs too.  It was surprising how much all of these movies sounded the same and that all of the foreign language mixes strangely sounded better than the English ones as their sound quality was better and the dialogue seemed more clear.  The sound effects are also much louder in the English mixes which sometimes interferes with the clarity of the dialogue.  These movies don’t offer a lot of surround activity or much ambiance but overall they’re decent.  In another unfortunate development for this release, I noticed on Shout Factory’s website that despite their best efforts to correct the other issues I’ve mentioned they’ve discovered another issue with the audio on the Fist of Fury disc.  Here’s what it says on their site: “It’s come to our attention that on the Fist Of Fury Blu-ray disc the mono Mandarin audio track is not accessible. We regret this oversight and we will be sending replacement discs in the next 2-3 weeks. No further action is required on your part.”



If I could give this set a rating of 10 I would as there’s so much good material included here that I can’t get enough of it. There’s a lot of extras included in this set (including a 68 page book) and I’ve broken them down by disc  as the movies have their own extras and then I’ll cover the special features in the bonus DVDs.  Also, in this new reissued set, the labels for discs 10 and 11 have been corrected.

Big Boss      


  • Audio Commentary by Hong Kong Film Expert Mike Leeder – This commentary by Mike Leeder is full of good information about the movie and Lee himself, but the sound quality isn’t that good which is true of all of his commentary tracks for each of the movies.
  • Return to Pak Chong: The Big Boss Revisited – Actor and martial artist Daniel Whyte revisits some of the filming locations in Thailand and talks about he movie.
  • Bruce Lee: The Early Years  – Stuntman and martial artist Gene Lebell talks about working with Lee at the start of his career.
  • Bruce Lee vs. Peter Thomas – A short piece about composer Peter Thomas who talks about his work.
  • Alternate Title and Ending Sequences – A different version of both the opening and closing credits.
  • Interview with Tung Wai – Tun Wai talks about his brief association with Bruce Lee.
  • Rare Scene Extensions – A short collection of deleted scenes.
  • U.S. TV Spots 
  • Still Gallery
  • DVD Version of the Film


Fist of Fury  


  • Audio Commentary by Hong Kong Film Expert Mike Leeder 
  • Remembering Fist of Fury – A thirty minute discussion with actor Jason Tobin and martial arts movie director Isaac Florentine.
  • Interview with Yuen Wah – The actor talks about working with Bruce Lee.
  • U.S. TV Spot
  • Alternate Title and Ending Sequences – A different version of both the opening and closing credits.
  • Still Gallery 
  • Trailers 
  • DVD Version of the Film

The Way of the Dragon  


  • Audio Commentary by Hong Kong Film Expert Mike Leeder 
  • Kung Fu? Jon Been Remembers the Shooting of the Film – The actor who played the mob boss in the movie is actually named Jon Benn and he talks about making the movie and how he opened up a museum dedicated to Bruce Lee which later closed.
  • Celebrity Interviews – A collection of interviews with: Sammo Hung, Simon Yam, and Wong Jing who talk about working with Bruce Lee.
  • Alternate Title Sequence
  • U.S. TV Spot 
  • Still Gallery 
  • Trailers
  • DVD Version of the Film

Game of Death  

  • Audio Commentary by Hong Kong Film Expert Mike Leeder
  • Game of Death Revisited – The best extra on the disc is this footage from Bruce Lee’s lost version of the film from 1973 before his death.  We get forty minutes of Lee’s vision of the movie which is better than the entire movie that cannibalized it.  It shouldn’t be surprising that the best scenes in the 1978 version were taken from this version but by watching this extra you finally get to see the whole picture of what Lee was trying to do with the ending of the movie.
  • Game of Death Outtake Montage – A montage of flubs from the film.
  • Game of Death Japanese Print in HD – Here is the Japanese version of the movie in high definition that is just slightly shorter than the English one.
  • Game of Death Locations – We get to see some of the filming locations as they appeared in the film and how they look now.  Since they were all from the 1978 version I was as interested as I normally would have been.
  • Game of Death Bloopers – A collection of bloopers where we see the cast mess up including Bruce Lee.
  • Alternate Title and Ending Sequences – A different version of both the opening and closing credits.
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Still Gallery
  • Trailers 
  • DVD Version of the Film


Bonus Disc One (DVD)


  • Bruce Lee: The Man, The Legend – At almost an hour and a half long, this documentary that was made right after Lee’s death offers an in depth look at Lee’s life and death.  There’s plenty of interviews with Lee’s friends and colleagues.  The documentary opens on a somber note as it begins with Lee’s funeral but it moves on to cover the rest of his life and career.
  • Bruce Lee: The Legend – Here’s another documentary that came out in 1977 which covers much of the same ground (it even features a lot of the same footage) as the ’73 film.  This is definitely isn’t a critical piece but it is thorough as it covers Lee’s childhood to his death through archival footage and home movies.  We even get to see some clips of Lee as a child actor.

Bonus Disc Two (DVD)


  • I Am Bruce Lee – This is the most recent documentary about Bruce Lee was just released on Blu-ray not long ago by Shout Factory so I’m not sure why they didn’t just include that Blu-ray as part of this set instead of adding it on DVD.  I’m still glad that it’s been included though since there’s a lot of good material included here including interviews with Lee’s widow Linda Lee Cadwell.  There’s also a bunch of sports and Hollywood stars who talk about what Bruce Lee meant to them too.  I would have preferred less interviews with people who didn’t even know Lee and more with people who did.  I lament this new trend of documentaries that spend more time trying to make its subject relevant to today’s audiences instead of focusing on the actual subject.  I don’t care how some UFC stars were inspired.  I’d rather hear and see more from Lee himself or at least those who spent time with him or learned directly from him.  This disc has it’s own special features including: “Backyard Training—Bruce Lee’s Personal Films”, “Inspiration—Bruce Lee’s Global Impact”, “Bruce Lee in Action”, “Theatrical Trailer”, and “Bruce Lee’s Hollywood Audition.”

Bonus Disc Three (DVD)


  • Game of Death Revised—Bob Wall Talks About His Experiences on Game of Death – The very candid Bob Wall talks about his love for Bruce Lee and his hatred of director Robert Clouse.  He also talks about what happened on the reshoots for Game of Death, earning respect from Sammo Hung, and what really happened on the set of Enter the Dragon between Lee and him and their legendary fight.
  • The Way of the Dragon—Bob Wall Talks About His Movie Debut – Wall talks about joining his former karate school partner Chuck Norris in Rome for the film and how he was added to the film.  He also reveals that Chuck Norris was Bruce Lee’s favorite martial artist and how their relationship grew closer.  Wall also mentions that he didn’t really like The Way of the Dragon as he prefers Enter the Dragon a  lot more.  He also talks about the beating he took from Chuck Norris during an exhibition fight when the person that had challenged Norris didn’t show up.
  • Master of the Game with Dan Inosanto – Inosanto talks about Bruce Lee’s philosophy for training, stunts, fight choreography, and how he was the first martial artist to combine and teach more than one style of fighting. He also shares Lee’s belief that it’s the individual that should be trained and not the fighting style.
  • Legacy of the Dragon – This is a forty-five minute British documentary on Bruce Lee that’s well made and covers a lot of the same ground as the others but it’s still worth seeing.  There’s also comments from people like George Lazenby which gives this documentary a different viewpoint.
  • The Grandmaster and the Dragon: William Cheung and Bruce Lee – Lee’s childhood friend and teacher shares stories of growing up with Lee and how he became the best martial artist in the world.  He also shares Lee’s training techniques and ideas.
  • Return of the Dragon in 60 Seconds – This is exactly what it sounds like.
  • Bruce Lee Remembered – There’s almost an hour of interviews with actor/fight choreographer Anthony Delongis, actor Bryan Mann, actor/director Dustin Nguyen, Director Gareth Evans, and Inside Kung Fu Writer of the Year Jason McNeil.
  • Fist of Fury Interviews – Fist of Fury co-stars Nora Miao Riki Hashimoto and Jun Katsumura are interviewed.
  • Still Galleries A huge collection from all of Lee’s films and television appearances. 



It’s a shame that Warners’ Enter the Dragon couldn’t be included in this set because if it was added this set would be all Bruce Lee fans would ever need.  To call it comprehensive would be to damn it with faint praise as I can’t imagine a more packed set than this.  Not only do you get four movies but you also get hours and hours of extras that are so extensive it will take you days to watch them all.  This reissued set offers much better video quality than the previous set that was briefly released and fans will be very happy that Shout Factory went to the effort and expense to provide the best possible set for all of Bruce Lee’s fans.  There will never be another person that can match Bruce Lee’s skills and this set is a fantastic tribute to the man and his life’s work and it’s highly recommended!

Order your copy today!

lee set



4 Responses to “Bruce Lee: The Legacy Collection (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    A$$ kicking review and coverage here, Sean!

  2. Sean Ferguson

    Thanks Brian! This was a monster of a set to review! I’m sure Brandon understands! ;).

  3. Brandon Peters

    I thought this one was huge, but then I took on Friday The 13th haha.

    Nice review! This one is a challenge! But for the most part the movies make it worth it!

  4. Sean Ferguson

    I haven’t seen the Friday the 13th set but you’re right that this one was a challenge but it was worth it! I just wish Enter the Dragon was included!