Summary: Clowntime is over...
Comment: In a recent article for The Daily Mirror Tony Parson's wrote that "not all the Chinese have a stake in the country's new found prosperity but every single one of them has a stake in the Beijing Olympics". A cursory glance in the year-view mirror reminds us that, up until these last few post-empire decades, the Chinese, viewed through these now dimming lens of colonialism, were rendered a nation of waiters, laundry workers and villains; so it's hardly surprising that this global scale event should be embraced so passionately with a view of saying to the world "Look how far we've come." But the true genesis of this particular brand of pan-cultural re-calibration had already taken place back in 1971 with a movie called Tang Shan Da Xiong (The Big Boss) and an actor called Bruce Lee.
To describe Lee as a cultural phenomenon is an understatement and inevitably legends are built on myths which grow more fantastic with every telling. His four completed works defined martial arts movies for all time and his unfinished opus Game of Death is basically the template for computer gaming which now, of course, informs much of modern action movie making; add `visionary innovator' to Lee's curriculum vitae.
This oft maligned icon has suffered much in death but has been redeemed somewhat by the sober and highly respectful biography `Fighting Spirit' from Bruce Thomas who is perhaps better known as the geeky and underrated bass player with Elvis Costello's Attractions. Thomas, as it turns out, is also a disciple of Lee's own fluid style of Kung Fu known as Jeet Kun Do (Way of the Intercepting fist) - clearly not a geek to be messed with.
Thomas' Fighting Spirit is the story of Siu Lung (Little Dragon) and his metamorphosis from child actor to teenage hoodlum; from martial artist to international superstar and media martyrdom at thirty two. It deals extensively with Lee's personal philosophy and the constant evolution of his art - and on reading Fighting Spirit you do come to appreciate that beyond the `chop socky' conventions of the movies which defines the form - Kung Fu is indeed an art.
Chapters examining Lee's philosophy inevitably verge into `ah Grasshopper' territory; "Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend." But much of Lee's impish humour comes through with the no less insightful "A punch in the mouth is a punch in the mouth."
As much as that now iconic image back in `89 of a lone student hindering the progress of a tank in Tinneman Square, the mise-en-scene that we most associate with China is Bruce Lee streaked with blood in a hall of mirrors from Enter the Dragon. As the political sturm und drang of the Tibetan conflict threaten to engulf the event, Parson's assertion that Olympiad 2008 is a demonstration of national pride and a chance to say to the world "You can't look down on us anymore" - the fact of the matter is - the world hasn't looked down on China since Bruce Lee.
Summary: Well-done biography
Comment: A good biography that tells the story of Bruce Lee and the development of his martial art Jeet Kune Do. I give it 4 stars instead of 5 due to the excessive number of grammatical errors in the book.
Summary: Well Done Biography
Comment: This book tries to convey a more human Bruce Lee. It includes his triumphs and his mistakes and allows the reader to judge what kind of man Bruce Lee was. While not everything in this book can be verified as truth Bruce Lee's life is portrayed in a respectful but in my opinion honest manner. I must point out again that the so called facts in this book have not been verified but it what is told here seems to correlate well with what I have been told by meeting and training with people who knew and trained with Bruce. My only complaint is the authors obvious bias for chinese martial arts. He claims to be a Wing Chun Gung Fu student and in certain parts of the book it becomes clear that he feels that this method is superior to others. However this is still a good read and the author is not obnoxious with his opinions
Summary: Good book
Comment: A good book and a plesant reading by a good writer. There's not so much new information in this book, but it puts facts in perspective a gives a good general body of information for those wishing to begin to learn about Bruce Lee's life. And what a life...
Like Bon Scott of AC/DC, for example, Bruce died when he was starting to reach his full potential in movies. It was a shame.
Summary: Solid biography
Comment: This is far from an official biography. It has not the endorsement of Linda Lee, and it also lacks interviews with some key member of Bruce's life. Also, the excuse given for the total lack of photos was not convincing at all.
But you will soon forgive the author for these minor flaws, because once you begin to read this book you will not stop it. Bruce Thomas, a bass player with Elvis Costello's band, writes with passion, but without bias. He tries to be objective all the times, including the "conspiracy theories" surrounding Bruce's death.
This book has a serius side effect: after reading it, you will not watch ever again the movie DRAGON (1993). Although Jason Scott Lee gave a great performance, it is clear that the movie was a total absurd, it's amazing how Linda Lee gave her support to it.