Welocme to this weeks Musings!
I’d forgotten how long ago it was that I published my first hero post so the next one is well overdue! Next up is …
Bruce Lee (1940 – 1973)
As I mentioned in my original post some time ago my hero’s come in all shapes and sizes and with no obvious logical link, well not to me at any rate.
To answer that question I need to firstly go back and reflect on life in the 70s and how I remember things.
When I was a teenager in the 70s screen hero’s, be it at the cinema or on TV, followed a pattern. They were lean, mean, tall (e.g. Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry) and sometimes suave and sophisticated (e.g. Shaun Connery as James Bond 007). What they weren’t was small and Chinese. Martial Arts wasn’t a familiar term and although I’d heard of Judo and Karate nobody really participated in these sports. Even if there had been sufficient clubs, which there were not, it simply wasn’t the done thing.
Then along came an Cowboy Western TV series called “Kung Fu” which starred David Carradine as a western looking Chinaman who possessed a few basic but cool skills for dealing with thrown punches and flying arrows which few of us had ever seen. It was tame but different and served as a small taster of far better things to come.
Word had arrived of a guy called Bruce Lee who could take on a small army with nothing but his bare hands. It was possible in some cinemas to see this with your own eyes providing you were willing to suffer dreadful dubbed dialogue and equally dreadful story lines. Bruce’s first films – Fist of Fury, The Big Boss – were in limited box office circulation but the fight sequences were awesome in there day. “The Way of the Dragon” was a significant notch up and featured Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee in an epic fight sequence set in the Coliseum, Rome which is still held in high regard to this day. You can find it on YouTube and it’s well worth a watch in my opinion. However, it took Hollywood to set Bruce on the path to super stardom and to catapult Martial Arts into the minds of every young adult male of that era. The film of course was “Enter the Dragon”.
With a decent budget Hollywood produced what I believe was the first English speaking Martial Arts film of the day. Today the film looks dated and the story line is pretty poor too but the fight sequences which at the end of the day was what it was all about are as good today as they were back then. Choreographed for real by Bruce himself they have stood the test of time. The film was a major box office hit and I can remember having to join a very long queue in order to get in to see the film. When I did get to see it I was blown away. Hard to imagine in this day and age that something was so original and so different to anything which had gone before and so exciting too. I saw the film four times when it came out and have seen it numerous times since on DVD.
We now had a hero who didn’t conform to the cultural norm and for a while every boy at school wanted to be Bruce and wanted to learn how to fight. I can’t recall any other film of my generation having such an incredible impact. I was completely absorbed by Bruce, had posters on my bedroom wall, subscribed to magazines, collected cards and read what ever I could find. My favorite book was “Bruce Lee King of Kung Fu” by Felix Dennis, a biography which I still have a copy of to this day.
For me though Bruce wasn’t just a screen hero. His real life fascinated me just as much. He was born in San Francisco, ironically in the Chinese year of the dragon but raised in Hong Kong from the age of 3 months. He was bullied as a small boy, didn’t like the experience and wanted to do something about it. He was taken in hand and saved from a wayward life. He learnt not one martial art form but studied them all to the point where he created his own form, a collective mix which he called, Jeet Kune Do. Not content to be good he wanted to be the best and that is what he became. He moved to America, married an American and became a teacher of his art to many including James Coburn and Steve McQueen. His party trick was to pick on the largest guy he could find and floor him with a one inch punch!
Sadly his life was cut short at the age of 32, the result it is alleged of a fatal reaction to taking an aspirin tablet. James Coburn was one of his pull bearers. He was buried in Hong Kong and his funeral parade was witnessed by thousands who lined the streets.
At the time of his death he was filming his fifth film called “Game of Death”. The fight sequences had been completed and Hollywood was eventually able to bring the film to the big screen. An OK film but not a patch on “Enter the Dragon”.
From a modelling perspective there are a few which are clearly based on Bruce Lee. As things currently stand my favorite is a Reaper figure. I thought I’d get it done for this post. I thought the mirror added a nice “Enter The Dragon” touch but with hindsight I should have taken photos before I added it. Bloody difficult taking photos with mirrors in! I need to take some better ones, these were done in a bit of a rush for this post so I might up date them in due course.
This week TIM has been listening to …
The Beatles and “Hey Jude”. This video is of the fab four and their live performance on the David Frost show. I remember seeing it live on TV with my brother. Not sure either of us appreciated what an iconic performance this was at the time. With 124,438,271 hits on YouTube at the time I was watching it’s obvious their popularity has not waned any. Then again it could have been just my brother watching it over and over and …
I have also been listening to The Hollies and “A Long Cool Women in a Black Dress”. Now I’m no Hollies fan, if anything they were one of my least favourite bands back in the day but I do like this track. Made all the better with the lyrics to follow.
This week TIM has been watching…
Terminator. It’s been a while since I watched the original film and I’d forgotten how dark it was. Arnie only had to be himself which made the film all the more realistic!
Classic lines – “Fuck you, asshole” and “I’ll be back” spring to mind.
Until next time.