They Call Me Bruce? is a product of its times not unlike any of the [insert inappropriately used adjective] Movie series of today are. That is to say that while it may be filled with consistent pop culture name dropping it certainly never hits the rock bottom, churn-it-out laziness of those movies. References fly so dated that only a few of my age and I’m certain none younger would get them, from a Linda-Carter-era Wonder Woman quick change gag to Toyota commercial jingles. But they are jokes, not just pointing at something and leaving that to be the funny. Coming at Zucker Brothers speed hurts them none either.
The film is guilty of laziness to be sure. The Italian mobsters are as stereotyped as you’ll ever see, as is star Johnny Yune’s Chinese immigrant cook and grandfather characters. It’s all winking fun, though, not to be taken seriously. Yune’s adeptness at understated reactions and physical comedy keep things moving at an amiable pace through each set piece, especially once it becomes a road movie. Here they meet even more stereotypes, such as the roadhouse rednecks intent on fighting him, while Yune and his driver attempt to deliver “special Chinese flour” for his mobster bosses.
Yune also has frequent delusions of his own martial arts prowess, owing to resembling Bruce Lee, that lead into elaborate dream sequences. Stage fight training from, seemingly, the stunt coordinators of Dolemite and other Rudy Ray Moore classics punctuates these scenes. Lots of slow kicking and punching, as well as the ever present leg sweep, make it into the fights. Most of this is left to unnamed characters, though, with Yune only popping in for fantasy moments.
The road trip leads inevitably to New York City for the silly conclusion of Yune’s search for his grandfather’s “special lady,” which was too corny for words to describe. But, for what it was, They Call Me Bruce? is an entertaining enough film that accomplishes its own low end goals. 2 ½ stars