“Take a first look at ‘Be Water’, a 30 for 30 film that intimately chronicles Bruce Lee’s life and complex journey, which premieres on Sunday, June 7th at 9pm ET on ESPN”
Bruce Lee is one of the most famous, if not the most famous, Chinese Americans ever to live. His influence on martial arts in the United States alone (much less the mixed martials and the whole world) cannot be overstated. I remember as a kid growing up in the 1970s and 1980s being asked more than once if I knew kung fu or karate (because I was Asian), and I’m pretty sure it was because of Bruce Lee.
An overview, from a Rolling Stone review:
“The scope is admirable, and in many ways necessary to fully capture the context of Lee’s growing celebrity throughout the Sixties, his difficulty breaking through in America, and the transformative impact of the handful of films he shot in the years leading up to his shocking 1973 death at the age of 32. We need, for instance, to see clips of white actors being cast in Asian roles (John Wayne as Genghis Khan, Mickey Rooney as Audrey Hepburn’s bucktoothed Breakfast at Tiffany’s neighbor) to appreciate not only how the odds were stacked against Lee, but the attitudes in place that led to Warner Bros. casting white actor David Carradine to play the Chinese-American hero of the Seventies TV drama Kung Fu, which was a project Lee had conceived as a vehicle for himself. A former Warner exec unapologetically explains, “The bottom line was, Bruce’s accent was gonna be a little tough on the American television audience,” and states that the show never would have been made with him as Kwai Chang Caine(*).”
It’s a shame Lee died so young – he could have had a much greater positive impact for Asian Americans and American culture had he lived longer. I’ll definitely be watching this documentary!