'Fist of Fear, Touch of Death: 40th Anniversary'
(Fred Williamson, Ron Van Clief, Adolph Caesar, Aaron Banks, Bruce Lee, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1980) 2020 / The Film Detective)
Overview: A reporter interviews fighters and promoters about Bruce Lee, intercut with footage from old Bruce Lee films and pseudo-documentary footage.
DVD Verdict: 'Fist of Fear, Touch of Death', from director Matthew Mallinson and producer Terry Levene, is celebrating its 40th anniversary like never before with a stunning 4K restoration and brand new special features!
The action-packed 'Fist of Fear, Touch of Death' (out now, and inside a "blood red" Blu-ray casing) stars Adolph Caesar as TV Anchorman to the 1979 World Karate Championship, where martial artists from all over the world are eagerly waiting to take down the competition and claim the title of “Successor to the Bruce Lee legacy.”
Filmed amongst the hype for a big karate championship bout between Louis Neglia and John "Cyclone" Flood at Madison Square Garden, the TV Anchorman Caesar tries to tie the match into the controversy stirred up with regards to the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Bruce Lee and whether or not this karate match-up will crown his successor.
Featuring Fred Williamson, a man constantly being mistaken for Harry Belafonte, an always focused, and possessor of a killer smile, Ron Van Clief, the film opens with Caesar interviewing Aaron "Mr. Karate" Banks, who tells us he believes Bruce Lee was actually killed by the touch of death (or "vibrating palm") -- a technique in which you touch a particular part of the body to reverse or change the normal bodily functions, resulting in death in 3-4 weeks.
As we watch along, the film then proceeds to take on an eerie biographic quality to it, tracking Bruce Lee's youth and development as a fighter with doctored footage that has been overdubbed to make it seem legit.
The story then drifts between the flashback memories of Bruce, his family, the legacy of his grandfather, and the journalist (in the present day) narrating the climax to the fight to determine the new grand champion.
What we get is a film that tells of Lee's voyage to America with just the clothes on his back, his great grandfathers swordsmen ship, the many confrontations with the people that knew him the best, and his journey through the early stages of Karate.
That all said, I have to say, albeit on a personal note, that this film was one of the funniest, most randomly bizarre movies I think I have ever had the honor to watch!
Sure, I went in expecting a Bruce Lee biopic, but instead what unfolded before me was an hour and a half of late '70s disco-backed, hideously cheesy, and badly dubbed dialogue, wrongly entwinned martial arts terms (like calling Karate as Kung-Fu, and vice versa), and even some rather hilarious sight gags (decapitation, eye balls thrown around, et al).
In closing, as I'm sure you are all thinking it, yes, Bruce Lee is in the film, but not saturated, that's for sure. Indeed, he is supposedly being interviewed several times for its actual purpose, but it's very clear that his chats with Caesar were filmed at an entirely different time.
Also, Lee is badly dubbed from Chinese into English so unless you speak Chinese, you have no idea what Lee is actually saying (although, personally, I suspect his comments had nothing to do with this film!)
Immensely entertaining from start to finish, but only if you don't take it too seriously, 'Fist of Fear, Touch of Death: 40th Anniversary' is one of those films that you simply have to say you've seen! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1:66.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Power-Packing 4K Restoration From The Original 35mm Camera Negative
Interviews with Stars Ron Van Clief & Fred Williamson, Director Matthew Mallinson, Producer Terry Levene, and Script Writer Ron Harvey
Original Theatrical Trailer
Exclusive Pressing of 1,500 Blu-rays
Official Purchase Link
Official 'Fist of Fear, Touch of Death: 40th Anniversary' Trailer