Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bruce Lee Lives? by Max Caulfield (1975) Star Books

Okay I'm sucker for some Bruce-spoitation., I previously reviewed Legend of The Fist here on this blog.  I've also enjoyed The Last Dragon and No Retreat, No Surrender (Student trained by the ghost of Bruce Lee vs Jean-Claude Van Damme)

So when I spotted this little gem I had to grab it.  Max Caulfield had previously worked with Linda Lee on her book Bruce Lee: The Man only I knew (which was the basis for the Jason Scott Lee movie Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story).

If you go in expecting to read what could be another Bruce Lee movie, be very disappointed.  The story opens with Caulfield getting a call from a friend George Bitters offering him the chance to write up the notes of an investigative journalist Ivor Wishart.  Wishart had gone to Hong Kong to investigate corruption in the Hong Kong Police.  During the investigation, he begins to hear about Bruce Lee rumours like he was murdered by the CAS (Chinese Asian Syndicate) through a number of obscure martial arts moves like the Death Touch.

Wishart continues his investigation and after an assassination attempt meets up with a lovely Chinese girl Nu San.  Wishart moves in with Nu San and begins a relationship with her. This plot is complicated when Wishart discovers that she is junkie.

As part of the investigation, Wishart meets Jo Foi who is a BNDD (Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs) agent.  Foi suggests that perhaps Lee wasn't dead but sick when they flew the coffin to America.  This hint suggests that Lee is working undercover to smash the CAS drug rings in Thailand. 

So it's off to Thailand in the Golden Triangle to see the opium fields, where he meets a Captain in the Thai army who has a familiar voice and bears a passing resemblance to Bruce Lee (as did most of the Brucesploitation actors).  The investigation leads the BNDD to a major drug processing plant and the mystery Captain is in the raid.  There is a brief scene where Wishart watches the Captain in action fighting and Wishart is convinced it's Bruce Lee.  And by brief I mean less than half a page.  (page 135 of 142 page book if you're interested) . 

Wishart is convinced but is unable to confront the Captain.  The book ends with Wishart vowing to return to find out the answer.

As I said there are two scenes in the book with our potential Bruce Lee with lots of rumours and speculations.  There is nothing concrete in this story.  The brief fight scene is so vague as to be useless to convincing anyone this was really Bruce Lee. 

Also the idea of the frame didn't work for me.  Wishart is a journalist but he uses a ghost writer (at one point he even mentions that a ghost writer will be writing up his notes) to write up this story. 
Caulfield writes everything up in third person which is confusing initially as the story is supposedly based on Wishart's recorded notes. 

If you are Bruce Lee fan and find this for a reasonable price grab it -  I love the picture on the cover of the British edition. 


  1. Bruce Lee, like John F. Kennedy, seems to be one of those people can't accept that they really died the way they did. He didn't die of a brain aneurysm, he was killed by the Hong Kong Triad. Or by Shaolin Monks for teaching their secrets (never mind Bruce Lee was not trained in a Shaolin style). Just like JFK could not be killed by one lone nutjob.

  2. I remember the story I heard was that Bruce was so toned that he flexed his muscles and broke all of his ribs.

    I think I comes from the fact that both Bruce and JFK were larger than life and it's hard to believe that they were brought down by something so mundane.

  3. You're undoubtedly right about them being larger than life. It's not emotionally satisfying the way the die. But real life is like that.

    It's also probably related to why some people insist Elvis is still alive.

  4. Everyone know Elvis is dead. He died fighting a Mummy in Texas. (Bubba Ho Tep is one of those movies I'll have to review here)

  5. I never saw the movie, but I read the original Joe Lansdale story. It's one of my favorites.

  6. The movie has a brilliant commentary track by "Elvis" - I made 37 movies and never said a curse word.

  7. Elvis also appeared in the series Eerie Indiana as a resident of the extremely weird fictional town. In Wold Newton terms (since both series are in the WNU) there's just enough time for him to move from Eerie into the Texas rest home.