Friday, 13 March 2009

The Bruce Lee Story

by Linda Lee

Phil Ochs, a member of the legendary New York folk music circle of the early 60s, has described how he "sat entranced" for five hours when he first viewed Bruce's films in the Philippines. "I could hardly believe my eyes. I had seen the Japanese samurai movies, but was not prepared for what was to come. The stories were simplistic and based mainly on revenge. They always involved fighting schools and a revered master teacher. 'I will teach you to be the best fighters in the world, but you must never use it to harm anyone unless absolutely necessary.' Near the beginning is the act of outrage; the insults of a rival school, the poisoning of a master, the murder of a loved one. Lee, the hero, the best fighter, demands vengeance and is always restrained until he can hold himself in no longer. Then follows the most exciting action ever filmed for the screen. One man against 50 with no weapons. He begins to wade his way through the lesser villains with his fists, his elbows, his feet. There are no camera tricks. The members of the audience are hysterical, clapping, cheering, sometimes leaping to their feet. When he gets to the major villains it becomes a dance of extraordinary beauty (one reviewer said that Bruce made Rudolf Nureyev look like a truck driver). It is not the vulgarity of James Arness pistol-whipping a stubbled, drunken stage robber; it is not the ingenious devices of James Bond coming to the rescue, nor the ham-fisted John Wayne slugging it out in the saloon over crumbling tables and paper-thin imitation glass. It is the science of the body taken to its highest form. And the violence, no matter how outrageous, is always strangely purifying. The face and mind of Bruce Lee are as important as the action. The expressions on his face as he psyches out his opponents are beyond description; at times he is lost in ectasy, almost sexual, and when he strikes, the force of the blow is continued by his mind and the look of concentration and satisfaction is devastating."

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