Bruce Lee Movie Review

A stab at stream-of-consciousness comedy that just isn’t funny

Baradwaj Rangan

March 17, 2017

FC Rating

1 1
★★★★★
film-companion

Language: Tamil 

Director: Prasanth Pandiyaraj

Cast: GV Prakash Kumar, Munishkanth, Bala Saravanan, Kriti Kharbanda 

The title is an ironic one. It’s the name of the hero played by GV Prakash Kumar, and the irony is that the character is anything but heroic. Doesn’t sound half-bad, does it? But Bruce Lee is one of those things where they have this one concept and nothing else. That one concept is this: Let’s name the hero after a legendary martial arts expert, and let’s make him a wimp. The nothing else is the rest of the film.

Bruce Lee is supposed to be a comedy. The key word supposed. It’s actually a tale of revenge. You’re probably thinking someone guns down the hero’s family at the beginning and he guns that person down at the end. But no! It isn’t even about the hero. The plot begins with a gangster stuffing a banana into a cop’s face. The plot ends with the cop stuffing a banana into this gangster’s face. Justice is served. So is fruit.

The plot begins with a gangster stuffing a banana into a cop’s face. The plot ends with the cop stuffing a banana into this gangster’s face. Justice is served. So is fruit

But this gangster isn’t the main villain. That’s the character played by Munishkanth, who was so funny in last week’s Maanagaram. When we first meet him, he’s watching The Godfather. He gets inspired by Marlon Brando’s look in the opening scene. So he puts on a tuxedo, he slicks his hair back, strokes a cat on his lap and gets his gang to kiss his hand. You think this is going to be his thing, but a few scenes later, he’s dressed like Heath Ledger’s Joker – chalk-white makeup on his face, a scar slashed across his lips. Then we see him as the psycho from Saw. He puts the hero and his friends into a machine that has automated boxing gloves – and I am not making any of this up. They try to dodge these punches. Suddenly the machine stops. By then, you’re going to wish the movie did too.

But the stretch that takes the cake is the one where the hero decides to spy on the villain. There’s actually a discussion along these lines. Someone who knows the layout of the villain’s house tells the hero that there’s a hole in the villain’s toilet. The hero’s sidekick (Bala Saravanan) says, “What’s so great about that? Doesn’t every toilet have a hole?” But no! This isn’t the hole in the ground where – in a just world – scenes like these would be flushed down. It’s a hole in the wall, a spying hole.

So the hero and his sidekick enter the villain’s den. They search for the toilet. And guess what? There are two toilets: one western, one Indian. Unfazed by this monumental twist, the hero finds the hole in the wall and peeks through it. He sees the villain’s room, but the villain’s missing. Someone taps the hero’s shoulder from behind. What do you know? It’s the villain himself. He cautions the terrified hero: “Step aside.” Now what?

There’s a lot packed into Bruce Lee. A ticking bomb. An acid attack. A Blow Up-like plot point about a murder captured on camera. ‘Naan Kadavul’ Rajendran imitating Rajinikanth’s dance steps from Baashha

Now this! The villain unzips and begins to pee. He finishes. Zips up. And he explains why he asked the hero to step aside. So he won’t get sprayed on by the pee. At that moment, I felt terrible about contemptuously dismissing all those Tamil-film comedy tracks with one liners where “urine” rhymed with “foreign.” Who knew pee-based humour could sink any lower?

There’s a lot packed into Bruce Lee. A ticking bomb. An acid attack. A Blow Up-like plot point about a murder captured on camera. ‘Naan Kadavul’ Rajendran imitating Rajinikanth’s dance steps from Baashha. A heroine played by Kriti Kharbanda. But there’s no wooing. The hero is already sleeping with her. How do we know this? Because one day at the beach, the hero says he wants to ride a horse. The sidekick says, “But don’t you ride a horse every day?” Get it? I suppose the director, Prasanth Pandiyaraj, was going for a free-flowing stream-of-consciousness comedy. What we get instead is a steady stream of urine.