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As movie stars go, Bruce Lee is something of a legend. Before his untimely death in 1973 at the age of thirty-three, he had won a collection of devoted fans from all over the world. His charisma, combined with his expertise at various martial arts, has meant his memory will live on for many more years to come.

Bruce Lee: The Lost Interviews
On the 9th of December 1971, Lee appeared on The Pierre Berton Show to discuss his career and various inspirations. Filmed less than two years before his passing, it has entered into folklore as essential viewing for any Lee fan.

Programme
Considering the hype that surrounds this interview, it can only be described as something of a disappointment. While it will be of use to newcomers to Lee, it lacks any kind of depth for anyone with a passing knowledge of the man and his philosophies. Noticeably dated, Berton’s interview approach could be described as naïve to a Noughties audience. Questions such as ‘What are martial arts?’ are truly a waste of the limited airtime, which stretches to barely twenty five minutes, and must encompass Berton re-introducing the star every time he welcomes the viewers back from a commercial break.

What it does give the audience is a good indication of Lee’s personality; he talks candidly and with a great deal of charm. Constantly breaking into a wide grin, Lee is every bit as charismatic as in his movies. He comes across as likeable and intelligent. Sadly, none of his roles, aside from those from Batman and The Green Hornet, are discussed in any detail and there are no clips from his films.

Bruce Lee on The Pierre Berton Show is, therefore, something for hardcore fans only. One suspects that, had Lee lived longer, the he would have gone on to give far more probing interviews than the one featured here. The show holds a definite charm, but it’s far too lightweight to be unmissable.

Video
To call the main interview ‘grainy’ would be something of a compliment. Further hampering the lack of colour is a complete lack of sharpness or definition. Moments of grime are continual. Despite the claim that this has been digitally re-mastered, this shows an age that seems far older than thirty-three years.

The extras fare better; although the Screentest is nine years older and similarly presented in monochrome, it is at least slightly sharper, something of a surprise since it was never meant to see the light of day. The only footage to be filmed in colour is the interview with William Cheung. Shot with video, the image still leaves a lot to be desired, but is a relief from black and white.

Bruce Lee: The Lost Interviews
Sound
Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, the audio side of things is superior to the visual, but still not particularly worthy. Fortunately, the interview is always audible and, perhaps far better than it could have been, but it’s still less than satisfactory. It’s muffled and lacks any real clarity.  The audio interviews included as Extras are even worse, with background noise kicking in all too regularly.

Extras
It’s rare to find extras that enhance the main feature so much, but the various features on this DVD go into far more depth than the Pierre Berton interview.

The Screen Test is an audition filmed when Lee was twenty-four and a recent arrival in America. Lee answers various questions about his life, revealing a touch of nerves that is not apparent in the Pierre Berton interview. These seem to swiftly dissipate when Lee is instructed to stands up and perform various moves for the camera. Although this is a short extra and ends abruptly, it is fascinating stuff. It’s presented in black and white but the picture is far sharper than the main interview.

More informative than entertaining, the Interview with Grand Master William Cheung is an hour-long talk with the man that Lee described as ‘the ultimate fighting machine‘.  Cheung is not the most engaging of interviewees, occasionally stumbling over words. However, despite being slightly over-long, this extra represents the depth that is sorely missing from the main attraction.  

Also included are two radio interviews, accompanied by a photo gallery and the occasional piece of home-video footage. Once again, the interviews go into far more detail than the Pierre Berton feature and, although the occasional piece of information is repeated, their inclusion is wholly welcome. The only gripes are that the audio quality is less than perfect, and the first interview (with Ted Thomas) ends fifteen minutes sooner than the slideshow of photo images with which it accompanies.
 
Bruce Lee: The Lost Interviews
Overall
Bruce Lee is very well represented on DVD, and there are more thorough discs that showcase his skills and personality. Paying full-price for a twenty-five minute feature may seem slightly extravagant, especially considering the audio and video quality. However, die-hard fans of Lee will lap this up and it is worthy of a place in any concise collection. Just be aware that there's a serious lack of new information.


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