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Movie Reviews : 'Bruce'--you Can't Call It Funny

June 02, 1987|LEONARD KLADY

Into the steamy American urban jungle arrives Bruce Won (Johnny Yune), a Korean in search of the American GI who saved his life 35 years ago. However, there are a dozen Pvt. E. Browns in the city who are Korean veterans. Undaunted, he sets out to find his soldier--the man who called him Fortune Cookie. To everyone else he meets, he says, "They Still Call Me . . . Bruce" (citywide).

The ensuing mayhem is, at best, a series of trifling wrong turns. His heritage lands him a job as a karate master, at which he endears himself to a talented, orphaned boy. He also befriends a hooker with a heart of gold and is pitted, in the ring, against a gruesome bruiser known as the Executioner, and outside the ring, against the city's nefarious smut merchants.

None of this sounds particularly funny, for good reason--it's not. There have been films more inept than "They Still Call Me . . . Bruce" but offhand their titles don't come to mind. Virtually nothing works in this effort, written and directed by Yune and James Orr.

Yune, whose previous screen vehicle "They Call Me Bruce" was a modest hit in 1982, is a Japanese-Korean comedian with a deadpan delivery badly in need of a laugh track. Posing as an innocent in his new film, he's constantly reaching up to meet the lowest common denominator with a series of bathroom jokes that would leave them yawning in Las Vegas. Still, they're preferable to the treacly sentimentality he falls prey to in an otherwise wholly incomprehensible and illogical endeavor.

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