A few months ago, as I was having lunch at my trusty neighbourhood coffeeshop on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised by the screening of Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury (1972) on the Chinese TV channel. Heck, I was entralled. Of course, I've seen the movie many times. But the opening is a such a grabber. Lee coming back to Shanghai to learn that his sifu has passed away. He rushed to the cemetery, it was raining (it was an obvious standard HK movie set), he wanted to jump into the grave as it was lowered into the ground, pure drama.
I was thinking to myself, this is going to change some kid's life if they're watching it for the first time on TV. I know it changed mine. Imagine you're in your teens and wondering wtf is wrong with your life, you're lazing around the house, no girlfriend, no sex, hope, love or dreams. You turn on the TV expecting some crap and they show a classic Bruce Lee movie. It's going to change everything.
[I remember watching a re-run of The Way of the Dragon at Dali cinema in the 1980s, which is damn rare even in those days. In the afternoon, after school, goofing off. No more than 5 of us in the cinema hall. But it was pure magic. Bruce Lee beating the shit out of Chuck Norris. Nothing is the same after that.]
Ideas of self, identity, the body, Chinese-ness, nationalism, what it means to be a man, it's all there.
Someone asked me before why I'm so into rock music, movies, comics, pop culture. I said it's because they made a difference in my life, shaped my world view and still helping me to make sense of the world around me. That person didn't get it.
Here's to you, Bruce. This year is the 35th anniversary of Bruce Lee's death. He passed away on 20 July 1973. Hai-ya!