They Call Me Bruce?
by Jef Burnham
On DVD June 30th, 2009 from Liberation Entertainment.
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They Call Me Bruce? is a long-outdated, blatantly stereotyping kung fu/gangster spoof that rarely, if ever, incites laughter— unless the laughter is directed at the movie itself, rather than the jokes. Only viewers with a high tolerance for pain and a love of really bad movies should attempt to wade through this “so unfunny, it’s funny” disaster of a spoof.
Comedian Johnny Yune stars as “Bruce,” an Asian immigrant (presumably Chinese, though Yune himself is Korean) who everyone says looks like Bruce Lee (though he doesn’t actually look anything like him). Bruce works as a cook for the mafia and is duped into trafficking cocaine, which he is easily convinced is Chinese flour. A whole slew of stereotyped Western sheriffs, prostitutes, and jive-talkin’ black thugs threaten to stand in his way of finally making it to New York, which was his grandfather’s dying wish. Marqaux Hemingway (sister of Mariel, granddaughter of Ernest) is also out to steal the cocaine so that her boyfriend, a former mafia chauffeur, can become the West Coast boss or something. There are also about a half dozen late 70s, early 80s pop culture references, including nods to Rocky, Wonder Woman and Saturday Night Fever. It’s a mess.
The racial stereotypes in the film may have been funny at the time of the film’s release, and if they were, they certainly haven’t held up over the last 27 years. The DVD, from Liberation Entertainment, unsurprisingly boasts no special features. I would have liked to have seen at least an interview with Yune, however, since he is working in LA on his Korean-language talk show and you’d think would be available for it.
They Call Me Bruce? Was followed by a sequel in 1987, called They Still Call Me Bruce, which once again starred Johnny Yune, who co-directed.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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