Bruce Lee had a son. His son was handsome and, by most accounts, a really nice guy. So, he inherited the name and the looks, but he also had an attitude that meant he could someday be a potential movie star. Then, as we all know, he died in a truly horrible accident.
Now, I think The Crow is Brandon Lee's best film, however, I also don't think it is a great film. But, his previous efforts, like Showdown in Little Tokyo and Rapid Fire, are so marginal there was only room for improvement. Still, the guy had potential charisma and had he lived longer and sought out the right projects, there is no reason we wouldnt have possibly seen him as the star of The Mummy or The Matrix films.
Legacy of Rage (1986) was his first film and, due to his own legacy, he had to start off big in a starring role, before, in my opinion, he was ready to carry a film. Brandon plays a goody two shoes construction worker who moonlights as a waiter at a high end resturaunt where his fiance, May, also works. His best friend Michael (Michael Wong- Beast Cops, Royal Warriors) is the son of a drug kingpin and is being raised to take over the business and be ruthless, cold-hearted drug baron. Michael has long had his eyes on May.
So, it is pretty clear where everyhting is heading. When a supplier, who is seceretly an undercover cop, begins to give the family problems, Michael creates a (convoluted and extremely far-fetched) setup for Brandon to take the rap for killing the undercover cop. With Brandon stuck in jail, Michael makes his nefarious ways known, begins to take over the family business, and puts forceful moves on May. So May, who is pregnant with Brandon's child, must flee the country and leave her man behind, bitterly stewing in jail.
Years pass and Brandon gets released. Not knowing where May is or that he has a son, he just toils away at menial jobs until May returns and seeks him out. However, Michael catches her and kidnaps her and Brandon's son. Bullets fly. Revenge is sought. You know the drill.
On paper it sounds like a perfectly pleasing mid 80's b-action flick, however Legacy of Rage just never clicks. I find two faults. The first is that Brandon Lee just wasn't ready for this kind of loose cannon, simmering rage, tough guy, lead actor role. And, I'm sure the producers/everyone involved thought it would be a great idea for him to ape a couple of stances like his father, which ended up being a wrong move. On that note we come to director Ronny Yu (The Bride with White Hair, Freddy Vs. Jason), who fails to really deliver well-choreographed action, sticking to simple set-ups that play far too breif, from a punch here to a kick there, never really going for full blown action until the Scarface/Beverly Hills Copish gunfight finale.
So, yeah, Legacy of Rage is a minor, 80's, HK action film, notable only as the debut of a star who never really got to shine.
The DVD: Fox
The Picture : Anamorphic Widescreen. Very good job. This is one of those films that floated around video stores and was very shoddy looking. But this transfer does the film justice. Ronny Yu loves his filtered lights, and here we see his first real attmept at bathing everything in pure hues, mainly blue. I mean, a scene at a landfill has neon pink/red light everywhere, for Petes sake. Colors and contrast are very rich, revealing healthy fleshtones and deep blacks. Sharpness and grain come off a tad rougher, though acceptable considering the age/genre. Technically it suffers from some edge enhancement that may not be as noticeable on smaller screens.
The Sound: 5.1 Dolby Surround or DTS English or Cantonese tracks. Optional English Subtitles. A mixed, flawed bag. The source isn't all that great to begin with. The score, in particular, is pure 80's cheese, very Jan Hammer synth-tastic. The audio has some glaring dropout during a few cuss words (that are still subtilted) suggesting a censored sound source. The subtiltes also have a fair share of flubs.
The Extras: Original and new trailers, plus trailers for Fox/fortune Star's latest wave of HK film releases.
Conclusion: Well, it wasn't a great start for Brandon Lee, though I guess it seems sadder because he never got to really prove himself. If he had the chance to make a better resume, Legacy of Rage would just be a novel, silly debut instead of one of the few works in his film cannon. The transfer is a middling, imperfect, barebones affair, that combined with the low replay value makes this one a rental.