Have you read Lynda Obst’s Sleepless in Hollywood?


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Well, obviously this is not a DVD Extras review. However, it is of significance. This book is from one of THE insiders in the Hollywood movie industry and her insights are most enlightening. If you are in the industry or have ever been curious about the how and why movies are made and what is the driving force behind the executive level decisions, you should check it out. It was just published in June, 2013.

Reading this book got me thinking about what is the one movie I want to have available if I were stranded on a “desert island.” My answer is Contact with Jodie Foster. I’ve seen this movie a hundred times and I’ll see it a hundred times more. Such a movie could not be made today. It would not even any further than the concept stage. Why, because it would not fit neatly into the demographics for the International market. The international market is the driving force behind movies today. And as you probably guessed it is financially biased. It is so bizarre to me to realize that a movie stands little chance of being made if it does not fit into a neat little box with a giant “R.O.I.” (return on investment) stamped on it. I can’t even imagine how frustrating it is for film makers to come up against this reality.

Do you like 3D movies? Really. Do you?

Ever wonder why every blockbuster is released in 3D? And do you ever wonder why theaters are not packed week in and week out for these very movies? The US movie going public has a distaste for 3D movies – probably because of those glasses. And perhaps it is because of the lousy quality of 3D conversions (taking originally 2D movies and processing them to look 3D). But, the Asian market loves 3D. And that is what drives the creation of 3D movies. The problem is that you don’t have an internationally viable movie unless you front the enormous costs involved in making it 3D.

So what other factors drive 3D. Construction companies have found a revenue generator in the design, building, and maintenance of 3D theaters in China and other countries. In China, they love 3D so much they are building 10 new theaters a day!

Another interesting fact is the sequel formula. And it has to do with something they call “Preawareness.” Metrics show that a sequel is viable only if it meets certain criteria. Like a star that is familiar to the non USA target market (usually Asia – China to be more specific), or a concept based on a very familiar story. Sequels are fine, in my opinion, but they will only be made if they are bankable. The concept script won’t even make out of the printer tray if it can’t meet Preawareness.

But, there are good stories too. Linda tells it like it is, like it was, and like it will be. Quick read even at 300 pages.

This is timely and important book for anyone involved in the industry. It should be a text book at Universities and Colleges.

Sleepless in Hollywood by Linda Obst at Amazon hardcover and Kindle


Elizabeth (1998)


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Elizabeth (1998) Amazon
Director: Shekhar Kapur

The movie that should have given Cate Blanchett the Oscar. It did, however, win one Oscar for Best Makeup by Jenny Shicore.  Shekhar Kapur did well with this outstanding movie. And what a cast! Cate, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph FiennesVincent Cassel, Richard Attenborough, John Gielgud, Kathy Burke, … on and on. Wow.


    • Running Commentary by Director Shekhar Kapur
    • The Making of Elizabeth
    • Elizabeth Featurette
    • Cast and Filmmakers Biographies
    • Photo Gallery
    • Theatrical Trailer and Teaser Trailer

The running commentary by Shekhar Kapur is awesome. You really get an understanding of the movie making process from a director’s point of view. A rare commentary IMO. Listening to him talk about his work with such incredible detail and passion and reverence for the art of movie making is a real treat. He is so clear about directing — it is a joy to listen to.

In the last bit of his running commentary he speak about something which I found profound:

“It take a long time for a director to come to terms with his or her film. It’s taken me a long time for me to come to terms with Elizabeth because every time I look at the film I only see is what I should have done or what I did wrong. But, when you finally come to terms with it as a director, you try to understand what you actually did because making a film is such a collaborative art that a director is merely, I think, the glue of many many other parts that come together in the film. So, at the end of, say, Elizabeth all I can say is that i kept asking myself a million questions. And I encouraged my art director to ask those questions, I encourage my cinematographer to ask those questions, I encourage my actors to ask those questions. I never actually went onto the sets of this film and said “This IS the shot”, unless I was in a real hurry. But most of the time I would talk to everybody about the philosophy and I would say “What is this scene really about? Why do we want to shoot it this way? Which way do you think it should go?” And I think that collectively as we kept asking these questions, we collated a film together that in the end probably asks more questions than answers. And I think that has become more important.”

Oddly, while listening to the commentary you do not have the option of displaying English Subtitles. Only Spanish or French subtitles.

The Making of Elizabeth is a 25 minute in-depth video with great on-set interviews with the stars and of course the director Shekhar. All the interviews are great, but I especially like Geoffrey Rush’s words about the motivations to do the part and his understanding of the character he plays. Hmmm, Joseph Fiennes is very different when he’s not in character. I do wish they had interviewed Kathy Burke. Her performance was absolutely sublime. The writer Michael Hirst and producer Alison Owen give wonderful interviews as well.

Elizabeth Featurette is a 6 minute overview of the film with interview clippets and voice overs. A very condensed “making of” piece.

The Trailers are . . . well, trailers. I guess people like these extra features. Do you watch these?

Cast and Crew Biographies Just a bit of text reading. I find these rather boring.

Photo Gallery look like dressed up screen grabs. Disappointing.

You have to check out the extras on this DVD. Especially if you are into directing. The running commentary is worth it all. Three thumbs up for Kapur!

I give it ★★★★★


Supercross (2005)


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Supercross (2005) Amazon
Director: Steve Boyum

For those unfamiliar with the movie . . . here is an Editorial Review from IMDB.com:

“Welcome to the high-intensity, high-octane world of Supercross, the extreme sport where gravity knows no limits. Brothers KC and Trip Carlyle are up-and-coming motorcycle racers with limited opportunities, unlimited potential, and dreams of becoming champions. When KC’s big break comes in the form of a lucrative, corporate “factory” sponsorship, the brothers are torn apart, becoming bitter rivals both on and off the track. But when a tragic accident threatens their Supercross dreams, the brothers must cast aside their differences — and fear itself — to defy the odds and take the checkered flag!”
    • Side A Extras:
      • Full Screen Feature
      • Commentary by Director, Steve Boyum
      • Look at the amazing Stunts
      • Meet the Stunt Doubles
      • The Story
      • Behind The Industry
      • Cast & Crew
    • Side B Extras:
      • Widescreen Feature
      • Casting Session

It is interesting to note that Steve Howey did an excellent job as the lead actor (K.C. Carlyle) in this relatively small movie. You, of course, know Steve Howey from the series “Shameless“, Stan Helsing and many others. Award winning actor Channing Tatum plays the antagonist (Rowdy Sparks). Actually all the actors were fantastic. From Sophia BushCameron RichardsonRobert CarradineRobert Patrick, et al – well cast.

The running commentary by the director Steve Boyum is quite good. He gives you a detailed “behind the scenes” look at the making of the movie and character development. Really liked the care he put into making a very realistic movie, a movie with integrity

A Look at the Amazing Stunts. Comments on the stunts by David Pingree, Rich Taylor, Dave Castillo, and director Steve Boyum talk about the stunt work on the film. About 4 minutes.

The Stunt Doubles. The guys talk about their roles as stunt doubles. About 3 minutes.

The Story. Steve Boyum, Steve Howey, and Mike Vogel (Trip Carlyle), talk about the story “Supercross” 2:30 minutes.

Behind the Industry features comments by the stars and industry personnel. About 2 minutes.

Cast and Crew. Stars talk about the crew. About 2:30 minutes.

Casting Sessions is an 8 minute extra featuring Steve Boyum, Steve AustinKen Solarz

Most of the extras are very short and not very interesting (they would be better labeled as a trailer for the movie) except for the running commentary and the Casting Session extra. But, if you are into bikes you’ll certainly like the movie. If you are an actor, you might appreciate the commentary.

So, I’d say you might want to check out the extras on this DVD.

I give it ★★★☆☆


The Red Violin (Remastered) (Meridian Collection) (2008)


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The Red Violin (Remastered) (Meridian Collection) (2008) Amazon
Director: François Girard

Another of my all-time favorite movies. I must have seen it 40 times! The story about Red Mendelssohn in this movie although fictional is really fascinating. The production value is superb. I really like the cinematography and lighting in this film. Samuel L. Jackson is perfection as Charles Morrtiz, the late Ireneusz Bogajewicz as Mr. Ruselsky is a real treat (sadly we lost Ireneusz last year) and Sylvia Chang as Xiang Pei is totally believable. And all of the cast gave the performances of their lives.

I love the violin. I have one myself!

    • Audio Commentary by Director/Co-Writer François Girard and Co-Writer/Actor
      Don McKellar
    • The Auction Block Featurette
    • The Oscar Winning Chaconne
    • Theatrical Trailer

The running commentary by François Girard and Don McKellar is quite good. Thankfully they allow subtitles during the commentary. Both men are together in the same screening room as they talk about the film (which is nice as many commentators are recorded separately and mixed in post).

They talk about the child playing the role of Kaspar Weiss is Christoph Koncz (and what a choice did they make). No special effects were used for his performances. He really did play the violin. It was difficult to find a child actor who could play the violin at the level required. I think they lucked out.

Not only do they talk about the performances, characters, and character motivations  but they explain the ins and outs of the effects too. One of the many very interesting effects in this move was the violin performances with Jason Flemyng as Fredrick Pope. To show him playing they had two virtuoso violinists on either side of Jason each using one arm and hand (tied to Jason’s arms) standing out of camera view. Think about it. One with the bow, one fingering the strings, and Jason in the middle! Joshua Bell not only was one of these violinists (fingering) but he also played the violin in the sound tracks. His role was instrumental in the making of this movie.

The Auction Block features Kerry Keane (Head of Musical Instruments for Christie’s N.Y.)  and Elizabeth Pitcairn (Current owner of the “Red Mendelssohn” Stradivarius violin) in this fascinating 18 minute extra. She talks about her musical history and how she came to become the latest owner of this instrument. She, BTW, is a SoCal girl! So, I hope I get to hear her play the Red Mendelssohn in person someday. She describes what defines a Stradivarius: “Beauty of sound, tremendous power, and ease of execution.” Kerry talks about the history of the Red Mendelssohn and of Stradivarius. Did you know that Stradivarius made over 1100 instruments in the 1700’s. And that some 600 of his violins still exist today!

The Oscar Winning Chaconne is a 15 minute piece featuring John Corigliano who did the film score. Very nice piece where you really get a sense of the working life of a film composer. So much thought went into the music for the film. Remember that this story covers over 300 years in time and 5 different sub stories and 4 different countries. How does one provide the musical “glue” to bind them all together?

John talks about that glue:

“The on-camera etudes either came from the chordal progression or Anna’s melody so they were all related to the same set of chords. In that way you can go through all 300 years and yet when the music comes back at the end you realize you heard it many different ways which gave the film a sense of oneness.”

The theatrical trailer is . . . well, a trailer.

So, I’d say you have to check out the extras on this DVD. It has something for everyone, directors, composers, and production designers should get something valuable from this DVD and anyone who loves the violin.

I give it ★★★★☆


Run, Angel, Run (1969)


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Run, Angel, Run (1969) Amazon Director: Jack Starrett

But, what makes this interesting is the running commentary by Joe Bob Briggs.

    • Movie without Intro/Movie with Joe Bob Briggs Intro
    • Running Commentary by Joe Bob Briggs
    • Original Run, Angel, Run Trailers
    • Trailers

From the main menu you have the option of playing the movie with or without an  introduction by Joe Bob (about 5 minutes long). I have to say his intro is great fun and informative. He talks about the significance of the movie itself and it’s place in the genre, he talks about the stars William Smith and Valerie Starett; their careers and their roles in the movie and many other tid bits. BTW, William Smith has a fascinating background. You won’t believe it until you hear it from Joe Bob!

The running commentary is really great. Joe Bob tells it like it is. And he knows his stuff.  You may have to be into the culture of outlaw biker gang movies to really appreciate this commentary but, I think anyone would find it entertaining. You’ll learn many facts and the stars and production that you can’t get anywhere else. Remember, this movie was made in the late 60s and producing a genre movie was a really budget conscious effort so corners had to be cut. Yet this movie was exceptional in that many firsts happened during the writing and the production. The story itself was a departure from the typical “biker” flick of the day. Camera effects and production techniques had several “firsts.” Now, while Joe Bob pokes fun at the story as a “chick flick/biker film” featuring a “sensitive” leading man (biker) who is torn between domesticity and the free lifestyle –  it’s all in good fun. And it’s something not seen before in this genre.

The trailers extra features are very cool in that it they must have found all of them including a number of foreign trailers!

So, I’d say “If you are into the “Biker Gang” genre . . . you should check out the extras on this DVD.”

I give it ★★★☆☆


School of Rock (2003)


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School of Rock (2003) Amazon
Director: Richard Linklater

Truly once in a great age do you get a film like this. I love School of Rock. A big fan of Jack Black. So, doing a review of the extras on this DVD was an easy task. If you are not a fan of his then you’ll probably loath the extras as he becomes the focus of it all. But, I liked it.

    • Commentary by actor Jack Black and director Richard Linklater
    • Commentary by the kids from the film
    • “Lessons Learned”
    • Jack Black’s pitch to Led Zeppelin
    • Music video
    • MTV’s diary of Jack Black
    • Kids’ Video Diary from the Toronto Film Festival
    • Dewey Finn’s History of Rock Interactive Feature
    • Trailers
    • Weblinks

I think you can skip the running commentary by the kids. Boring for an adult, but maybe children will find it fun.

School of Rock Music Video. Great fun had by all.

Kids’ Video Diary is an 8 minute video of them at the Toronto Film Festival Premiere. These are cool kids (we’ll they are adults now) and they are being . . . well . . . kids.

Theatrical trailers – are theatrical trailers.

MTV’s diary of Jack Black is a pretty funny 16 minute extra sort of a day in the life piece. Done with the humor only Jack Black can muster. It takes you from morning Jack to ‘School of Rock’ rehearsal Jack, to rehearsal with ‘Tenacious-D‘ Jack, all the way to bedtime Jack. It’s sprinkled with bits and clips from the movie.

Jack Black’s pitch to Led Zeppelin starts off with an introduction by Jack. It was Linklater’s idea to have Jack make an appeal directly to Led Zeppelin (during rehearsals for the concert scene) to use the Immigrant Song in the movie. It worked.

“Lessons Learned” is a 30 minute piece featuring on-set interviews, behind the scenes videos, and rehearsals. The kids are great, Jack is funny as always. There are 9 lessons/chapters in this Extra:

Lesson #1 Have a Vision: Mike White talks about how and why he wrote School of Rock.
Lesson #2 Form a Band: Interviews with the kids and how they came to be in the movie. 
Lesson #3 Rehearse A Lot: Jim O’Rourke the music consultant talks about his part in working with Jack and the kids. There are some funny clips of the kids talking about working with Jack.
Lesson #4 Creating a Code Name: Hmmm, Jack “The White Tiger” – “I don’t get it'”
Lesson #5 Safety First: WTF! jack starts a fire on the set! Silliness abounds.
Lesson #6 Know What to Film: Linklater discusses the making of the film and working with Jack.
Lesson #7: Remember the Past: starts out with Miranda Cosgrove (Summer) interviewing Jack. 
Lesson #8: End with a Bang!: focuses on the “Battle of the Bands” concert scene.
Lesson #9: Choose a Title: “Why School of Rock” instead of “The School of Rock”?

Dewey Finn’s History of Rock Interactive Feature (requires installation of InterActual.
A requirement that I hate BTW). Once installed you have three options:

  1. Play DVD plays the movie as a digital file.
  2. The “Chalkboard of Rock” features 1 minute segments and an interactive Chalkboard:
    1. A video of Jack Black’s talking about his 5 favorite bands
    2. Linklater and Black talking about the “Chalkboard of Rock” 
    3. What is cool about this extra feature is the interactive “Chalkboard of Rock” which allows you to see the whole board and click on the individual music genres to reveal a more detailed history. Clicking on the individual musicians and bands gives you an even more detailed bio.

3. Web Site Archive allows you to explorer more goodies:

    1. Including “The Film” with text based info about the film.
    2. The Cast with small bios
    3. Production Notes with character development and background info on the cast
    4. More Behind the Scenes video clippets, Games and Downloads (like wallpapers et al).
    5. A gallery of thumbnail images from the movie.
    6. The Music lists the music in the film. But, it also has R.A.T. (Rock Aptitude Test) an interactive quiz on rock,  and Stage Dive Dewey which is a simple game where you get to make Dewey stage dive OR NOT.
I’m giving it 4 of 5 stars because the extras are mostly about having fun. Well done indeed, but not directed to those who want to learn more about the art of film making. I give it ★★★★☆


Pleasantville (1998)


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Pleasantville (1998) Amazon
Director: Gary Ross

I knew this was a very interesting movie. And after hearing Gary Ross (who not only directed, but also wrote and produced this film) talk about the making of Pleasantville, I now know this is an incredible movie. A very drama-based premise in a comedic based scenario. While Tobey Maguire is great in this film, Reese Witherspoon takes it to a whole new level – well, IMHO anyways. This film was nominated for 3 Oscars in Costume, Music, and Art Direction.

    • Audio Commentary by Gary Ross
    • The “Making of” Featurette
    • Isolated Score with running commentary by Randy Newman
    • Music Video
    • Cast and Crew (text based)
    • Color Television Setup (still images for you to adjust your set)
    • Theatrical Trailer

The running audio commentary by Gary Ross is a real treat. A very articulate speaker with a nice easy style. You get a real sense of Gary’s immense skill as a director. The decisions he made to further the goals of the movie, his understanding of the actors, his personal history and how it affected his work – really cool stuff. Gary talks about specific scenes and references to other movies. For example: Reference Citizen Cane and the scene where the Chamber of Commerce pin is given to William H. Macy by the late J.T. Walsh. And Gary talks about the first painting we see from the art book (shown to Jeff Daniels) The World of Art—Masaccio’s Expulsion from the Garden of Eden and it’s significance to the heart of the movie. He talks about how transitions should be subtle and not an obvious moving from Act to Act. Throughout the commentary he gives a really eye opening reveal of the social commentary aspect of this film. There is a lot going on in this movie and I certainly did not realize when I first watched it.

The Art of Pleasantville is a 30 minute piece on the special effects. They start off with the scene where Tobey covers Joan Allen’s skin to hide the color. They talk in detail about the difficulties and processes used to achieve a believable transition for her. In fact all the skin effects were especially difficult as the movie was shot in color and post processed to appear black and white AND transition to color throughout the film. You even get to see the scene where Jeff Daniels removes her makeup IN COLOR before it is processed into black and white.

John Lindley talks about the technical aspects of his job as cinematographer as it relates to the difficulties and processes of making Pleasantville. I thought it was really cool to see the enormous storyboard “bound book” as he thumbs through it.

We get to visit Frank Romero in his studio (he did the brick wall mural in the movie). A pivotal piece in the movie. He talks in detail about the mural, life, Jeff Daniel’s character, and the serious underlying nature of the film.  

The Isolated Score with running commentary by Randy Newman is fascinating. Not many isolated scores have a commentary and Randy has a lot to say. He talks about the art of scoring such a film, motivations, historical perspectives, and all with his unique sense of humor. A very nice piece of extra feature.

The Music Video extra is pretty good (Across the Universe Lennon–McCartney sung by Fiona Apple). I generally don’t like music videos but, this was done in a very stylish cinematic way. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.

You have to check out the extras on this DVD. It has something for everyone. The fan, the actor, the director, the music, the producer.

I give it ★★★★★


Solaris (2002)


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Solaris (2002) Amazon
Director: Steven Soderbergh

This production of Solaris is not based on the Andrey Tarkovskiy Russian film Solyaris of 1972, but rather a new interpretation of the original Stanislaw Lem novel Solaris. This movie is really more of a love story between the two main characters rather than a science fiction drama. The production value on this production is second to none. The look created by Steven Soderbergh and production designer Philip Messina is absolutely wonderful. BTW, Steven was not only the director, but also the Cinematographer/Lighting Designer and Editor of the film.

    • Running Commentary with Steven Soderbergh (director and screenplay) and James Cameron (producer)
    • HBO Special: Inside Solaris
    • Solaris: Behind the Planet
    • Trailers
    • Screenplay

The running commentary with Soderbergh and Cameron is very interesting. They discuss the film on an intimate level, a more personal level, as opposed to a technical analysis of the film. Man, I never had the opportunity to work with Cameron (back when I was in the industry) but, after listening to him on this commentary . . . well, IMO, this guy has one big ego. But, may be that’s what it takes to be one of the greatest directors in history. Anyway, they discuss just about everything about the film. I think, writers, producers, and directors will find the commentary interesting and informative.

HBO Special: Inside Solaris is a 13 minute piece. I did not know that George Clooney lobbied for the role and was, in fact, not the first and obvious choice for the part. He talks about the difficulty in taking on such a role. Jeremy DaviesViola DavisNatascha Mc Elhone, and Ulrich Tukur are also interviewed about their roles. They all give such good insight into their characterizations. This extra feature is also a visual treat.

Solaris: Behind the Planet is an 18 minute piece which is not only about the planet, but really about the entire film. Lots of behind the scenes footage, interviews, outtakes, production video, etc… A nice piece as you get a bit of everything. Including really cool screen tests from a few of the actors. The most famous is the legendary Ulrich Tukur (Dr. Gibarian) video tape where he does his monologue while the camera is pointed at his dog—the entire video! The last part of this extra goes into detail about the planet itself. Beautiful imagery and footage. Did you know they went to 4K resolution for the planet scenes? Man, remember, this is 2002! You also get to learn about some of the very cool set designs.

The trailers include two for Solaris and two for other movies.

The screenplay is text based and you need to forward through it. But, it appears to be complete. I do wish it were available as a pdf or rtf file so one could read it full screen or print it out. As it is, you can only read a few paragraphs at a time.

So, I’d say you still have to check out the extras on this DVD.

I give it ★★★☆☆


Enter the Dragon (1973)


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Enter the Dragon (Two-Disc Special Edition) (1973) Amazon
Robert Clouse

In this two disc special edition learn all about the film, all about Bruce Lee; his life, his work, the real story behind the legend. I’ll tell you, truthfully, I completely forgot this was an American film. I’ve always associated it with Golden Harvest Films. The image and sound quality are terrific on this film. There are hours of extras on the two disc set. Fans of his films and fans of the martial arts will love this. Directors and producers will find the insights valuable.

    • All-new digital transfer
    • Commentary by producer Paul M. Heller and writer Michael Allin
    • 30th anniversary documentary making “Blood and Steel”
    • “Bruce Lee: In His Own Words” documentary
    • “Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey” documentary (includes reconstruction and analysis of Lee’s intended cut of The Game of Death
    • “Bruce Lee: The Curse of the Dragon” documentary
    • Original 1973 making-of featurette
    • Linda Lee Caldwell – Interview gallery
    • “Backyard Workout with Bruce Lee” home movie footage
    • Trailers
    • TV Spots

The running commentary is by Paul Heller with Michael Allin (writer via the telephone). It’s interesting to hear their comments after 30 years of living through the legacy that is Bruce Lee. You will get to hear the incredible backstory of the development and production of the film. There is so much we thought we knew about the making of Enter the Dragon, the origins of the story, the actors, Bruce himself, but, I think you will be very surprised at the truth. The first part of the commentary has Paul and Michael focusing on Bruce Lee’s personal history in regards to the movie industry and this film in particular. But, as the movie plays, they also describe the backstory.  Be sure to have the sub titles on.

Incredible to hear of all the problems they ran into in the Far East during production. The cultural differences caused no end of headaches for them. But, they were very resourceful and flexible. Speaking of resourcefulness . . . they were amazed at the ability of the Chinese crew to build beautiful and detailed sets and set pieces from the most basic of materials in record time. Pretty cool.

They really embraced the sound effects (Foley work) that are unique to the Chinese martial arts films. I never really liked that style of “exaggerated sounds” but, nowadays I have found a new appreciation for it.

“Blood and Steel” is the name of the original script. It starts off with one of Bruce’s first students . . . the late James Coburn as he remembers the early Bruce Lee. You’ll hear from a great many involved in the film along with cuts from Enter The Dragon. This 30 minute piece is filled with anecdotes related to the film itself, the actors, and the production. John Saxon, Jim Kelly, Robert Wall, Peter ArcherSammo Hung Kam-Bo, and even Ahna Capri are interviewed for this piece. Just super!

“Bruce Lee: In His Own Words” is a revealing 20 minute documentary made up of various interviews with Bruce himself. Primarily he talks about his philosophy of martial arts. It is something you have to view many times and really absorb his words. Near the end of this piece you get to see film of Bruce the family man with pics of Linda Lee Caldwell, his son the late Brandon Lee, and daughter Shannon Lee. Shannon by the way recently announced (Feb 2013) the final realization of the Bruce Lee Action Museum in Seattle.

The Linda Lee Caldwell Interview gallery features 15 minutes of interviews with Linda on many topics related to her late husband. Her interviews are candid and yet loving and respectful. Nice special feature.

In Lair of the Dragon, you’ll find an original 7 minute 1973 Featurette. Sort of a “making of” piece that was probably shown in theaters along with trailers.

Backyard workout with Bruce is a short 2 minute film showing him practicing at his home.

In the fairly long (at 1.5 hours) “Bruce Lee: The Curse of the Dragon” documentary  George Takei narrates the tragic side of his life. It starts out with film of the funeral and continues with speculation of a family curse. But, it is not all doom and gloom, they remember him with fondness and respect. We see many interviews by Paul Heller, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Chuck Norris, James Coburn, et al. They talk about his early life in a family of acting. Bruce’s younger brother Robert Lee talks about their father who was a famous comedy actor Li Hoi Chen and the formative years for Bruce.

Did you know that Bruce was sent to the States (Seattle, WA) to live with a relative because his father thought it would be a way to keep Bruce out of the trouble he routinely got into by street fighting? Such antics would have brought shame to the family name.

With Hollywood and “stereotype casting” his career was not moving forward. So, he went overseas to make movies, hone his acting talent, become a big star and only then would he return to America to make it big. And he made it! The film The Big Boss did not begin with Bruce as its star but, as filming began it was clear Bruce was a star and the film was rewritten to put Bruce in the lead role. Fist of Fury was an incredible success overseas. Way of the Dragon (Return of the Dragon) was his first real creative effort. He had nearly total creative control over the production.

“The candle that burns twice as bright, burns twice as fast.” They talk about the shock of his untimely and devastating death. The latter part of this extra feature focuses on the many theories as to the actual cause of his death. The very last part discusses the everlasting effect of his life and career in movies.

“A Warrior’s Journey” at nearly 2 hours long is broken into chapters: The Beginning, The Journey, The Struggle, and The Footage. It is probably the most significant extra feature of the 2 disc set. There is too much to describe in detail here. But, you will gain an in-depth knowledge of the martial artist and the man. The good and the bad. They have also reconstructed (as best they could) the remaining original footage with the real Bruce Lee of The Game of Death. And even though it was pieced together with mostly outtakes—what a difference! And Kareem’s performance was a real treat!

“Theatrical Trailers” is a compilation of promotional trailers made for theaters.

“TV Spots” is a compilation of promotional trailers made for TV.

I have visited, meditated and even talked to him when I would make my monthly visits to his grave site in Seattle. It might seem strange to some, but for me, it was a privilege to do so. I was also excited to meet Linda Lee in Los Angeles many years ago by way of my own martial arts teacher.

You have to check out the extras on this DVD. It has something for everyone. The fan, the actor, the director, the producer.

I give it ★★★★★