‘The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.’ – I Am Bruce Lee review



Who was Bruce Lee?
He was a martial artist.
He was a movie star.
He was a writer and director.
He was a Cha Cha Cha champion.
He was a father and a husband.

Director Peter McCormack decided to gather Bruce Lee’s friends and family, fellow martial artists, and celebrities to talk about the martial artist’s struggles and triumph in Hollywood and in life. This movie explores Lee’s life in Hong Kong as a child star and moving to the United States and struggling with being an immigrant and could never accept being “second class.”

His widow, Linda Lee Cadwell, and fellow martial artist Dan Inosanto talked about Bruce’s beginnings
as a Chinese immigrant coming to America. He was actually a child star turned street fighter in Hong
Kong and studied Wing Chun under the legendry Ip Man, but that didn’t stop him from street fighting.
He caused so much trouble street fighting back in Hong Kong that his father gave him $100 and told
him to go to America. He opened up a martial arts studio in Seattle where he met Linda. Interracial
relationships were frowned upon but that did not stop them from getting married.

We also hear about the Chinese and Chinese-American disapproval for Bruce teaching non-Chinese
martial arts. They sent a fighter from China to fight Bruce – if he lost; he would need to close his studio.
Of course, Bruce easily defeats the opponent, but to Bruce – he felt defeated because he did not take
down his opponent fast enough in his mind.

Bruce Lee was a perfectionist. He always strived to be better. Surprisingly, he recalled his time as Kato in
The Green Hornet as shameful because it was not who he was – it was not “Bruce Lee.” He felt defeated
in Hollywood. With no jobs for “Orientals” in Hollywood, he was offered two movie roles in Hong Kong
(for little pay) – Fist of Fury and The Way of the Dragon. These movies were successful and shot him
up to stardom and back to Hollywood. He was offered a Hollywood role in Enter the Dragon. Sadly, he
passed away before the movie was scheduled to be released.

The film also talked about Bruce’s martial art system and way of life – Jeet Kune Do (JKD). JKD was a
collection of styles from all forms of martial arts. He incorporated all kinds of sports and fighting styles
into it. He watched numerous boxing movies and read books of all styles of art – fencing, dancing,
jujitsu, etc. As Bruce put it, “Jeet Kune Do is not an organized institution that one can be a member of.
Either you understand or you don’t, and that is that. There is no mystery about my style. My movements
are simple, direct and non-classical. The extraordinary part of it lies in its simplicity. Every movement
in Jeet Kune-Do is being so of itself. There is nothing artificial about it. I always believe that the easy
way is the right way. Jeet Kune-Do is simply the direct expression of one’s feelings with the minimum of
movements and energy.”

There were some controversies discussed in the film – Who was the father of MMA? Bruce Lee did have a hand in incorporating all types of martial arts and sports into his art. UFC president Dana White stated Bruce Lee was the father of MMA. Of course in the film, people argued between Bruce Lee and legendary fighter Gene LeBell. LeBell stated “If Lee is the father, then I am the GRANDfather of mixed martial arts.”

There were so many quotes and footage from Bruce’s life. It worked so well with the speakers in the
documentary. McCormack did an amazing job with the editing because even though he added the
quotes and random sayings on the screen – it meshed with the speakers and the message he was trying
to convey to the audience.

There were many people in the movie that made sense to me being there – Linda, his daughter Shannon,
his costars in the film, and fellow past and present martial artists. But there were some random
celebrities in the film that I couldn’t see a connection – Taboo from the Black Eyes Peas, professional
dancer Jose Ruiz III, professional skateboarder Paul Rodriguez and NBA star Kobe Bryant. I understand
many people were influenced by Bruce Lee, but I did not see a connection between those four. As an
audience member, it was very awkward when Taboo explained his singing/dancing poise style was
influenced by Bruce Lee. I did wish they had more people who worked with him like Chuck Norris. That
would have been epic.

I did appreciate McCormack incorporating the little influence Asian American men get in America. Bruce
Lee was a sexy and charismatic person and really showed Asian men are sexy and strong. Unfortunately,
since then, there are no romantic leading Asian men in Hollywood – no, Jet Li and Jackie Chan have not
had a romantic love in an American film. They asked everyone if there were any Asian romantic leads in
Hollywood. My favorite was MMA fighter Stephan Bonnar’s answer – “Dean Cain – isn’t he part Asian?”
His answer made me laugh so much but thank you Mr. McCormack for stating that in your documentary.
Hopefully, we will see a change in that soon.

Overall, this was a well thought out and beautiful documentary on the life of a legend. The
cinematography and editing in this film was done so well. I really felt like I knew Bruce Lee and
appreciated his art and films even more. I think anyone who appreciates the martial arts and its
philosophies would enjoy this film. Bruce Lee was the man.




Facebook Comments