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Saturday, 11 August 2012

I am Bruce Lee

I was especially interested to see this documentary movie, because although martial arts movies are not my bag I do remember the Kung Fu boom of the mid Seventies. There was a period when our local cinema, The Workman's Hall in Gilfach Goch, showed nothing but Kung Fu flicks.  Many of these films were X certificate which is more or less the same as the modern day (18) certificate, but no one took any notice of certificates and I remember watching Sunday afternoon double bills of these movies when I was about ten years old. Afterwards we would walk home, usually three or four of us, and kick and punch every step of the way. There was something cool about Kung Fu movies to a kid in the Seventies. It was a craze and many of us got in trouble for sawing up broom sticks to produce home made nunchakus or as we called them numbchucks. The craze for home made nunchakus became so great that the police would confiscate the weapons if they ever saw anyone with them.

Bruce Lee's influence was so great that a martial arts schools started to open everywhere - we even got one in our tiny South Wales Valleys town.

There were some howlers among all those Kung Fu movies -One Armed Boxer, The Magnificent Butcher, The Seven Golden Vampires. The Chinese Boxer and many of these films were badly dubbed, with actors mouths going in a totally different direction to the words, but it didn't matter since it was the fighting was the thing.

Enter the Dragon was the big thing and maybe the only one of these films, that I can watch now. This starred Bruce Lee - a man who held a mythical status and the urban myths that grew up around him were often the subject of wild schoolyard conversation.

"Bruce Lee was assassinated by rival martial artists because he taught the art to non Chinese."

"He could outrun  a bullet."

"He moved so fast that the movie camera had to record him in slow motion and then be sped up for the film."

"Bruce Lee could touch you in a certain place (the touch of death) and you would die a few hours later."

There were so many myths but those above are the only ones I can remember, and even now his strange death is shrouded by suspicion, but the facts are that his death was caused by a severe reaction to Asprin.

Now back to I am Bruce Lee - the movie is overseen by Bruce's daughter, and is devoid of any controversy but it's still an entertaining ride. There are many rare clips but the largest part of the movie is made up of talking heads which become repetitive after awhile. The movie would offer great value as a special feature on a reissue of say, Enter the Dragon but as a full price standalone DVD it will appeal more to the die-hard Bruce Lee fan than the casual viewer.

By far the most interesting section is when the film gets onto covering Bruce's movies and there are some great clips and stills from this period. It also gave me a new appreciation of Bruce's first movies, Especially Fist of Fury because although the dubbed English versions were slapstick, the original audience were watching highly politically charged films.

There is a great documentary to be made about this man who remains an important cultural icon, but sadly this isn't quite it. For now, though it'll do.


Davieboy said...

I went though that crazy Bruce Lee thing too back in the Seventies - can probably still recite the dialogue from alll of his movies flawlessly. As you say, they're pretty unwatchable now. Bought all the poster magazines cunningly published by Felix Dennis; I work next door to Dennis Publishing in London and can never walk past their building without thinking of Bruce Lee who helped create that empire.
Was shocked to hear of the death of Ahna Capri a year or so back - it felt almost personal. And let's recall how cool John Saxon was in Enter the Dragon.
One of the highlights of seeing Hong Kong was coming across a statue of Bruce Lee overlooking the harbour. A truly legendary man of modern times.

Randy Johnson said...

One myth I was told of was from a friend at the time. He absolutely worshiped Bruce Lee and swore he wasn't really dead. He was to reappear ten years after his "Death." The friend had no reason for him doing such a thing and by the time the ten years arrived, He'd left town.

I always wondered how he flt about his shattered dream.

sir jorge said...

ah yes, bruce lee, i wish i had his skills, but then again that training regimen would probably be a little harsh, and well, i'm not that discipined