My "Film That Started It All"
Big thanks to EasternKicks for including me in their ongoing feature titled "The Film That Started It All". They asked many different people about their personal, standout Asian film which kickstarted their passion. You can read my piece here on the EasternKicks site, or read it below...
Early in my life, many films had a profound effect on me and helped ignite my passion for movies. Asian cinema played a massive part in this. Although there are many stars I’d cite as favourites, particularly when I was growing up, it was all about Bruce Lee. I used to rent his films constantly on VHS from the local video shop before I ever owned them. Remember, these were the dubbed, heavily cut versions available at the time. They were all we had but they were brilliant (although I’m very grateful for the subsequent DVD releases from Hong Kong Legends)
I think my favourite Bruce Lee film at that time was Way of The Dragon (it would later become Fist of Fury). However, I feel each one has its rightful place in any top Martial Arts movie list. Bruce Lee is someone you can appreciate on so many levels. As a kid, I was captivated by his likeable persona, charisma and of course his lightning-fast kicks. I’ve heard this many times, and I’m sure others have said it before me, but when you’re a young kid growing up in the grey of England, this all seems very exotic. I think it’s the same for every generation who watched him, in terms of the impact it had. As an adult, there are more layers to appreciate, like the cultural significance of his work and closely watching the nuances of his fighting abilities. Plus, he totally dominated the screen. He was a star in the truest sense of the word.
Way of the Dragon was a great showcase for all these traits. We had the exotic setting of Rome, Bruce playing the earnest young Tang Lung in a slightly lighter, comedic turn. He starts off as quiet and passive before fighting back against local gangsters and protecting his family. “Dragon whips his tail!” We also get Jon Benn smoking his giant cigar, Bob Wall (shortly before his return in Enter the Dragon) and let’s not forget the epic coliseum battle with Chuck Norris! The excitement of seeing this stuff for the first time was almost overwhelming. It’s no surprise that these films influenced pretty much every generation of action filmmaker to follow. Long may it continue!