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Bruce Lee at Golden Harvest Limited Edition 4K UHD [Blu-ray] [Region Free]

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It’s been a long time since I’ve seen The Big Boss, but I did feel the film flowed a little better in this longer cut, particularly the first half. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-rays and region B locked Blu-Rays included in this release of Bruce Lee at Golden Harvest on a JVC-DLA N5 Ultra HD 4K projector and a Panasonic DP-UB9000 Dolby Vision HDR10 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

And in a year when the likes of Second Sight have produced such prestige sets for their horror classics, I’ll be amazed if this one isn’t the single best physical media boxset release of 2023 come the end of December. Finally, the clean up work across all, together with the added stability of the complete removal of any judder, is the last little cherry on top of the whole, resulting in a set of images that belie any expectations you may have for these visuals, even including The Way of the Dragon and its chequered visual history. A big part of my love for Lee's final film, Enter the Dragon, is really the nostalgia, the bittersweet memories I have of watching the classic martial arts actioner on television as a kid. The Big Boss is the most bloody of Lee’s films, with some pretty gory deaths and nasty use of the ice factory’s buzz saws.For me, the nearly ten-minute brawl where the two actors actually managed to make contact is all the more memorable because of the slow buildup to the fight, showcasing Lee's techniques first by piting him against lesser challengers — the crime boss's comical assortment of henchmen — and having him figuratively climb the ladder of worthier contenders. He directed his own action scenes, but was a quasi-director beyond that on all of these, credited or not. Grain is omnipresent, fine and organic looking in nature – even and natural, there’s no sign of any obvious management or even compression artefacts hiding in the grain structure and it gives the image a lovely filmic texture. The rest are Blu-rays, including Enter the Dragon and Game of Death II, with also excellent audio and video presentations of each, and the other four bonus discs house exhaustive featurettes of Lee's life, impact and legacy, as well as alternate versions of the aforementioned Bruceploitation movies. After a short while, the cousins and their fellow workers worry about the disappearance of some of their group.

The character of Hsiu is notably stronger here, with him given some more varied character beats and a much longer opening fight. This brought Lee to the attention of former Shaw Brothers production head Raymond Chow, who saw Lee as a potentially valuable asset and signed him up for a two-film deal with his relatively new Golden Harvest Studio. Celebrating over 50 years of Bruce Lee's legacy, Arrow Video brings his four movies plus two Bruceploitation features to 4K Ultra HD in an attractive ten-disc Limited Edition box set, dubbed Bruce Lee at Golden Harvest. The first two starring vehicles for Lee, The Big Boss and Fist of Fury (both directed by Lo Wei), smashed all box office records in Hong Kong and made him the most famous face on the continent.Nevertheless, the fresh remaster of the original 35mm camera negatives is a welcomed step up from the previous Blu-ray, yielding better overall definition and sharper details for the most part. It's a great, memorable moment that blatantly renounces bigotry and clearly establishes the plot's anti-colonialism theme. His fight choreography has been taken up a notch – the final act smackdown is packed full of so many of those iconic shots of him that adorn posters the world over - with the first use of his trademark nun chucks adding a new string to his bow and as with the previous film, while the action that doesn’t involve him feels slow and rudimentary (even if it too has gained in scope and scale), his scenes sizzle with his ferocious intensity and the best ‘fight face’ ever committed to the big screen. Like Enter, the sequel to the previous movie is offered only as a Blu-ray disc, which could be a mild disappointment but not all is lost since the result is a great-looking AVC MPEG-4 encode.

So while Fist of Fury looks slightly cooler thanks to its more muted colour palette and the fact its shot all indoors on soundstages as opposed to the wonderful backdrop of the forests of Thailand for The Big Boss, both look utterly fantastic (despite a faint vertical stripe of lighter colour patches on the film on The Big Boss at the 11 min that lasts for about 10 seconds), the restoration work undertaken yielding stunning results on both films. Coming from a new restoration and remaster of the original 35mm camera negatives, the classic martial arts actioner delivers justice on Ultra HD with an exceptional HEVC H. The hot-tempered Chen not only beats up the man and his friend, but Lee goes one further by kicking the offensive sign and breaking it in midair. Today, five decades since his passing, Bruce Lee continues to be the most beloved and influential martial artist in the world.Essentially, this martial arts actioner comes with a surprisingly thoughtful and poignant center, making it one of Lee's better and more memorable films. In only a handful of films, Lee high-kicked his way into audiences’ imaginations forever, thanks to his blistering screen presence and his masterful ‘Jeet Kune Do’ fighting technique. However, since childhood, I've always distinctly remembered the fight between John Saxon's Roper and Bolo Yeung, the cool and suave Jim Kelly's Williams and, of course, Han's three-knives prosthetic while going toe-to-toe against the unbeatable Bruce Lee inside the mirror room.

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