ASIAN VALUES DVD REVIEW
Ting Pei might want to consider herself a serious actress but
she will forever be remembered as the woman whose apartment was
where Bruce Lee was found dead on July 20, 1973.
At the time
of Lee's death and the controversy surrounding it, Ting has kept
silent about the affair though two years later, it looks like
she was trying to have a say.
Bruce Lee And I (1975) starts with Bruce arriving at Ting's apartment.
While he is having a quick shower, she, alone in bed, is shown
having her own rapturous moments. Out of the shower, Bruce joins
Ting in bed. Apart from the sex, Bruce is shown popping pills
and smoking probably pot. Then she goes and takes a shower. Returning
to the bedroom, she finds Bruce dead, or at least unconscious.
(According to most reports, Bruce Lee was pronounced dead on arrival
at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hongkong. Bruce's death was
caused by cerebral edema - a swelling of the brain due to a congestion
Ting is seen as the mistress (the film clearly shows that) who
caused Bruce's death. Apparently she does not have any friends
and has to do her own shopping and gets a earful of sarcastic
remarks from some women shoppers at the local supermart. On the
way home, she is jeered at by some workers.
Lee (Danny Lee) toking it...
tries to drown her sorrows in a bar only to find herself harrassed
by a group of nunchaku-wielding Bruce Lee fans who are fended
off by the bartender. Pouring another drink for Ting, he asks
her to tell her story.
While in secondary school, Ting claims she's something of an "outcast"
because she liked movies and was expelled after a fight when some
students ganged up on her. At the cinema, she is approached by
a movie producer and invited to his office. There, she is offered
a drink which is drugged, she becomes unconscious and the producer
takes photographs of her in the nude. After realising what has
happened, Ting contemplates suicide but decides against it after
- OK, this is the weird part - hearing a voice, which seems to
come from a lighted candle, telling her that she will meet an
important man in her life and that she will achieve much happiness.
Why director John Lo Mar decided to include this scene is anyone's
guess but one can imagine how many eyebrows this raised!
At the film
studio, she is told to strip for her role. Unhappy with her situation,
she leaves Taiwan, only to find the producer and his men waiting
for her at a Hongkong hawker centre. At that moment, Bruce Lee
drives by, fights off the men and gives her two thousand dollars
before driving off.
money, Ting starts life anew and soon sets herself up as some
tycoon's mistress. At a night club one night, she runs into Bruce
and returns the money. Bruce is intrigued by the gesture and before
long, the two strike up a relationship. In the meantime, Bruce
is shown suffering from severe headaches, has a wild fling when
he finds Ting with another man, and is intent on getting Ting
into his next movie. One night Bruce arrives at Ting's apartment
before going for a formal dinner. Suddenly he gets a bad headache
and then collapses.
game of death...
came into the Shaw stable as the studio was on the way down and
never managed to achieve the kind of fame that came to Ti Lung,
David Chiang, Chen Kuan-tai, Alexander Fu Sheng and Lo Lieh. He
later became well known for John Woo's The Killer though some
fans remember him in The Mighty Peking Man. Here, in terms of
looks, moves and presentation, Danny makes a decent facsimile
of the real thing but the character remains a cipher. One hardly
knows any more about the man upon leaving the movie. Another problem
with the movie is that the melodramatic parts can be tedious and
slow moving; and there's too much will-they-won't-they-have-sex
teasing in the flashback sequence such that the overall feeling
is that the movie isn't interesting.
But being a Shaw show, the film is peppered by enough action to
satisfy genre fans. Choreographed by Tang Chia (whose specialty
is weapons and group fights) and Yuen Woo-ping, the movie tries
to recreate the climactic sequence in Fist Of Fury and also shows
Bruce being constantly challenged to show off his skills. In one
such encounter, Bruce fights with a character portrayed by Han
Ying-cheh (who choreographed Fist Of Fury, the villain in King
Hu movies and the main villain in The Big Boss). The laughable
part comes with the two walking off talking about the philosophy
and longevity of martial arts!
Lee And I is about trying to have your cake and eating it, then
it fails. For a start, the opening "death" scene and the one at
the end does not tally. Did Bruce Lee die after the drugs and
sex or did he die after he got a seizure (but no sex)? Or is the
opening sequence the chain of events fixed in people's minds while
the one at the end is what really happened? If the two stories
don't match, perhaps this might indicate the plausibility of another
scenario (and one of the rumours surrounding Bruce Lee's death)
- that he died somewhere else and his body was placed in Ting's
Every effort is made in this movie to portray Ting as a sympathetic
person, someone whom Bruce Lee not only likes but actually admires
for her guts and integrity. Maybe she is that and more but unfortunately,
the movie, in a surprisingly (unconsciously) reflexive move, shows
her as nothing more than a soft porn actress, with bad hair do
as some might add. Put it in another way, as a way of cashing
in on the Bruce Lee legend, she certainly cannot complain of not
getting enough exposure here.
Note: The Bruce Lee And I DVD (Celestial/IVL) is banned in
$ingapore. The film was also known as Bruce Lee: His Last Days,
His Last Nights.