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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » They Call Me Bruce? (Blu-ray)
They Call Me Bruce? (Blu-ray)
Kino // PG // October 24, 2017 // Region A
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted November 20, 2017 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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The Movie:

Directed by Elliott Hong in 1982, The Call Me Bruce? tells the story of, not surprisingly, a guy called Bruce (Johnny Yune), a Chinese man who works as a cook for an Italian mafia family. He does a decent job, but seems clueless as to his employer's actual business dealings, which makes him the perfect patsy when they need someone to help escort a sizeable amount of cocaine across the country. Bruce, who sincerely believe the cocaine to be flour, may be of Chinese descent, but he doesn't actually know any martial arts even if he idolizes Bruce Lee and watches a lot of kung-fu movies. Whenever he gets into trouble, however, he somehow manages to use his heritage to his advantage and fool people into believing he's far more dangerous than he really is.

This comes into play when he and his mafia appointed driver, Freddy (as Ralph Mauro), travel across country. Before they leave, however, a beautiful woman named Anita (Pam Huntington) gives Bruce a necklace, swearing that so long as he wears it she'll never sleep with another man, saving herself only for him. He buys it, unaware that she's a cop and the necklace is a listening device. Regardless, Bruce and Freddy begin their road trip and get into all sorts of goofy, predictable adventures on their way to New York: getting into fights with rednecks, playing to win in Las Vegas, they run into a gang of jive talkin' black dudes and… eventually they piss off the Jewish mafia too. Oh, and there's a pretty but dangerous woman named Karmen (Margaux Hemingway) after them too.

If you came for political correctness, the exit is to your left, but even if the film does dabble in racial humor it's hard to find any of it even close to mean spirited (particularly when you take into account that Yune himself co-wrote the script and co-produced the film in the first place. Sure, the film mixes up Asian history constantly, throwing Japanese cultural references in alongside Chinese ones (Yune himself was born in Korea) but even as it deals in one stereotype after the next, well, if it pokes fun it does so with a wink and a nod, rather than a nasty jab.

As it is with every comedy film, some of the jokes here work better than others but unlike a lot of other films They Call Me Bruce? just keeps at it, relentlessly. There's not a second in the film where things slow down or try to get even close to serious. There's no underlying moral here, no deeper meaning and no attempt to make anything more than a ridiculously goofy, dopey comedic picture… and that's exactly what this film is.

The cast members are all in on the joke and appear to be having a lot of fun with the material. Yune is the real star of the show, and he actually plays two parts. There are scenes in the film where we flashback to Bruce's childhood in China. In these scenes Yune plays Bruce's crotchety wise-ass grandfather. He's a lot of fun to watch regardless of which character he's taking on in the movie. The film did well enough that five years later it spawned a sequel with 1987's The Still Call Me Bruce (which isn't as good and which was a bit of a flop).

The Blu-ray

Video:

They Call Me Bruce? arrives on a 25GB Blu-ray disc framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer that generally looks pretty decent. The movie is a bit soft looking overall but this would appear to be the way it was shot and not be a specific issue with the transfer itself. For the most part the picture is pretty clean. Some minor print damage does show up from time to time but it's small stuff, white specks and the like rather than large scratches. Color reproduction is pretty solid, black levels are fine and skin tones look good. This is film-like, there's no obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement to complain about and the image is free of noticeable compression artifacts.

Sound:

The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track on this disc gets the job done. There are no alternate language or subtitle options provided. Dialogue is a little garbled in a few spots but this is the exception, not the rule. For the most part the performers are easy enough to understand. Levels are properly balanced and there aren't any problems with any hiss or distortion. This would seem ‘true to source' as far as the movie's sound mix is concerned.

Extras:

The only extra listed on the packaging or menu is the film's original trailer, which looks like a Youtube rip, but if you let that play, there are a few bonus trailers hidden away for other Code Red releases. Aside from that, we get some standard menus and chapter selection.

Final Thoughts:

They Call Me Bruce? isn't politically correct but it is pretty funny if you're in the right fame of mind for it. This isn't highbrow comedy at all, it consistently aims for the bottom of the barrel and hits its mark time and time again, but it's frequently so intentionally dumb that you can't help but laugh at it. Code Red's Blu-ray release is light on extras but it looks and sounds decent enough. Recommended… if you're in the right frame of mind for it.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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