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Musings from the Edge of Forever

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with RONIN ON EMPTY.

Archive for the ‘Bruce Lee’ Category

Retro Review: THE BIG BOSS (1971)

Bruce Lee Psycho

Bruce Lee auditions for the role of Norman Bates

Riding high on the overseas success of the canceled Green Hornet television series (re-titled “The Kato Show” in Hong Kong), Bruce Lee was finally given his big Hong Kong Cinema break by Golden Harvest head honcho Raymond Chow. After outbidding the Shaw Brothers for the actor’s services, the famous producer cast the promising young Lee in the 1971 production, The Big Boss. No one, including Bruce Lee himself, could have predicted the film’s massive success.

Known to most American fans as Fists of Fury, this Lo Wei-directed film centers on a young, “fresh off the boat” brawler named Cheng Chow-An (Bruce Lee), who has just moved to Thailand. For Cheng, the change of scenery from Guandong seems to have less to do with bonding with his expatriate cousins, and more to do with staying out of trouble. We learn early in the film that Cheng has promised his aging mother that his fighting days are through. He even has a good-luck pendant he wears around his neck to remind him of his solemn oath. But when he and his buddies run afoul of some nefarious drug-running gangsters, will Cheng Chow-An be able to keep his promise?

For a more in-depth look at the film, read my review. For visual learners, check out this kooky original U.S. trailer or watch the entire film (dubbed in English) under the cut.


Everybody Loves Kato

Green Hornet and Kato

Seth Rogen and Jay Chou in The Green Hornet

Last night, I had the opportunity to watch The Green Hornet in IMAX 3-D. While I plan to submit a full review to in the next few days, it probably won’t get posted for awhile, and thus, may not seem very timely for US readers of this website. With that in mind, I thought I’d at least scribble down my initial impressions here.


On this day in history…

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee was born — November 27th, 1940 to be precise. In case you need a refresher on just who this guy is and why he’s so damn important, I’ve included my moldy old bio write-up for below, but you can check out Time magazine’s much more recent photo gallery retrospective here.


The Green Hornet and Kato Strike Back!


Seth Rogen as Britt Reid and Jay Chou as Kato in The Green Hornet (2011)

I’m honestly surprised that The Green Hornet has finally been made. For a while there, it looked like it’d never see the light of day. The film has had a long, tortuous production history. In the 1990s, there were vague rumors of an impending film involving George Clooney, but the most concrete development came when Kevin Smith (Clerks) wrote a screenplay in 2004. However, Smith got cold feet about helming the film himself and backed out of the director’s chair (although he did later adapt the script into a comic for Dynamite Entertainment).

Without Smith’s involvement, the project then languished in development hell until we got the surprising news  that Stephen Chow would both direct and star in the new film, alongside Seth Rogen, who would play against type as Britt Reid, the titular Green Hornet. But soon enough, Chow was off the project as both actor and director due to “creative differences” and announced he would be instead pursuing a different superhero film with Jack Black (!). More delays ensued.

And then, Michel Gondry, director of The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, came aboard as director and Taiwanese actor-singer Jay Chou was cast in the role of Kato. Still more delays ensued when Sony decided to post-convert the film to 3-D, which isn’t a good sign if it’s true what people have been saying about post-converted 3-D films like Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender (i.e. the 3-D sucked).


My Top Hong Kong Films of the 1990s — A Cop Named Tequila


C’mon, who HASN’T wished they could do this?

I first saw John Woo’s Hard Boiled on Cinemax.The cable company gave us a free trial, and I timed my VCR to record this film, along with A Better Tomorrow, Vampire Hunter D, and The Wicked City. Although I can’t speak for those who lived in major metropolitan centers, in my day, both Hong Kong films and anime were damn hard to come by, especially if you lived in rural Oklahoma. Don’t worry, I’ll avoid the obligatory “You kids today don’t know how easy you’ve got it!” spiel and continue with my stroll down memory lane.

In my childhood, the only Chinese movies that I ever got to see on TV or on VHS were Bruce Lee films, Brucesploitation flicks, and badly dubbed chopsockies that were probably produced by studios other than Shaw Brothers or Golden Harvest. As a result, Bruce Lee was probably the only identifiably positive image of an Asian man in American popular culture, and, of course, his appeal was very much tied up in his proficiency in the martial arts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. My point is — for those of us very much stuck in an American pop culture perspective, for an Asian guy to be cool, he had to know kung fu.

All that changed with Hard Boiled and Chow Yun-Fat.  As silly as it may sound to those of you who are either a bit younger than me or who were always culturally plugged into Asian cinema, Chow Yun-Fat was the first Asian actor I’d ever seen who was undeniably cool. Of course, Cinemax showed the dubbed version, so Chow sounded like a pissed off Aussie, but it didn’t matter to me — Chow’s Tequila Yuen was a cool customer very much in line with the heroes I admired in Hollywood films — Dirty Harry, Snake Plissken, John McClane, etc. Role models aren’t that important to me anymore, but as a youngster, Chow Yun-Fat’s Tequila Yuen meant the absolute world to me.


Bruce Lee vs. Philip Marlowe!

Winslow Wong

I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m a fan of Bruce Lee. After all, I’ve reviewed all his major films for this website, came up with a short bio for his People Page, wrote a little article about some film and TV projects of his that never came to pass, and even penned a long-winded blog post about his transnational appeal.

But if my love for man known as “The Little Dragon” has fairly been obvious, I doubt many readers are aware of another “idol” of mine — Philip Marlowe.  Not only is Raymond Chandler’s hardboiled private eye my favorite character in literature, but Chandler’s penultimate novel in the Marlowe series, The Long Goodbye, is perhaps my favorite novel ever written. First appearing in Chandler’s The Big Sleep, Philip Marlowe has gone on to be played on both the big and small screens by actors like Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Elliott Gould, Dick Powell, Powers Boothe, and James Caan, among others. Most, but not all, of these films and TV shows have made it to DVD, albeit with one glaring exception — a 1969 adaptation of the novel, The Little Sister, entitled Marlowe.


Riders on the Storm

LBH in Singapore

 In tribute to James Cameron’s new film, Sanjuro employs Lee Byung-Hun as his official Avatar.

Well, I’ve finally made it to Singapore, so it’s time for a blog update. During my stay I’ve already seen the Laughing Gor prequel, TURNING POINT, and I hope to see OVERHEARD eventually as well as the Singaporean film WHERE GOT GHOST? perhaps as early as today. I also finally got the opportunity to watch Pixar’s UP, which is hands-down the best movie of the summer.

(more…) Copyright © 2002-2023 Ross Chen