Director: Joseph Velasco
Starring: Bruce Lei, Peter Chen Lau, Leong Wong Ko
Not only is this curiosity not to be confused with the Stallone movie of the same name, it's also not to be confused as a Bruce Le (as in one 'E', as in Bruce clone) starring vehicle. Though billed as the star of the film and his face plastered all over various posters (the one used here excluded) and vhs boxes, he is nowhere to be found. Apparently, this Indonesia lensed flick decided to use his name purely as a selling point as his films were popular there at the time (can you imagine; a second rate Bruce Lee clone falsely billed in order to lure patrons?!). The actual star is Bruce Lei and no, this isn't the actor who's better known as Dragon Lee. That was a different 'Lei'. I'm not sure who this Bruce Lei is, possibly Steve Lee of the film 'Steel Fisted Dragon'. Maybe, maybe not...
Onto our story: 'Bruce' is the favorite pupil of your typical white beard, kindly old teacher/father figure. He is also in love with the old man's daughter (of course). The old master is killed one night by an unidentified assassin who calls himself, The Cobra . His dying wish is that his daughter and fave pupil forget everything, get married and move away. And believe it or not, that's what they do! They have a kid and 'Bruce' lands a job after unwittingly fending off a few gangsters who were harassing a rival. His job is basically as a collector/enforcer, something he does not enjoy. He let's his boss know he's quitting after one last job (you know exactly where this is heading). The 'job' is botched and the boss sends his goons to kidnap 'Bruce's' wife and child. It goes horribly wrong amd the two are accidentally killed (this scene is one of the more excrutiating ones that I have seen in a kung fu film of this vintage). This sets the tone for the last thirty minutes as an enraged 'Bruce' lays waste to the rheumatism stricken boss and his henchmen (the top assassin turns out to be identical twin brothers leading to the line, "So the two of you were born on the same day and you will die on the same day!"). It ain't over 'till it's over however as at the last instance, The Cobra (whom 'Bruce' and the audience had basically forgotten about) shows up to finish what was started (or something like that), leading to a final freeze framed 'surprise' ending that will cause one to shake their heads in disbelief (if they weren't already doing so, that is).
If the above plot rundown makes this film sound like some careless, convoluted mess, that's because it is. 'Credit' one Joseph Velasco who among many others, directed such no budget wonders as the entertaining 'Ninja Strikes Back' and the notorious 'Clones of Bruce Lee' (both of which DO star Bruce Le). He lends his typical air of incomprehension to this film. Still, this wobbly inducing affair does have a minor cult following and this is mostly due to the gory carnage on display in the last half hour. After a slow, somber buildup, Velasco just seems to say screw it and pile on the martial arts mayhem in earnest. This sudden change in tone only adds to the confusion, but in a so bad, it's good kinda way.
Again, not positive who star Bruce Lei actually is, but he is a decent Lee-alike. Not the best I've seen, but not the worst either and he does display some half decent acting chops to go along with his welcomed subdued Lee impression. His underplaying of the role actually lends some genuine drama to the proceedings.
As these Bruce Lee clone flicks go, I found Cobra strangely intriguing. It's jarring shifts in tone combined with the gore filled climatic battles and nonsensical final shot (to say nothing of it's score, which at one point incorporates a muzak instrumental version of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'!) make it ideal viewing for insomniacs everywhere.
**1/2 / ****