Fighter, philosopher, teacher, poet – to these great achievements the Little Dragon added another – he was also a movie actor of colossal genius.
A colleague once said of him: ‘He was the only Chinese actor who presented any range of emotion. Remember the scene by the graveside in Fist of Fury? Incredible! You are never called upon to do that kind of thing in normal Chinese movies.’
Bruce was aware of his brilliance, and took a great pride in his films.
‘What I hope is that the movie (The Big Boss) will represent a new trend in Mandarin cinema. I mean people like films that are more than just one long armed hassle. With any luck I hope to make multi-level films, the kind of movies where you can just watch the surface story if you want, or you can look deeper into it if you feel like it.’
The Way Of The Dragon, that thunderous, gut-wrenching climax to Bruce Lee’s dynamic cinematic career was modestly dismissed by its hero as – ‘A simple plot of a country boy going to a place where he cannot speak the language; but somehow he comes out on top because he honestly and simply expresses himself by beating the hell out of everybody who gets in his way.’
About Enter the Dragon, Bruce said:
‘This is definitely the biggest film I ever made. This is the film I am proud of because it is made for America as well as Europe and the Orient. I’m excited to see what will happen. I think it’s going to gross $20 million in the U.S.!’
Is anybody about to disagree? But with the glory-trails that followed the Little Dragon from east to west came taunts that his stare ‘n’ tear heroics were not real acting. Bruce knew how to answer these people!
‘I don’t play the superhero, but the audience wants to make me one. I don’t always play the same kind of role – each role is different, although when I fight I come out the same – like an animal!’
‘I never depend solely on my fighting skills to fulfil any of my screen roles, although the audiences in South East Asia seem to think so. I believe it is more my personality and the expression of my body and myself. I am not acting, I am just doing my thing. When somebody tries to mimic my battle cries or grimaces, he makes himself look ridiculous.’
‘I don’t call the fighting in my films violence; I call it action. Any action film borders somewhere between reality and fantasy. If I were to be completely realistic, you would call me a bloody violent man – I would simply destroy my opponent by tearing him apart or ripping his guts out. I wouldn’t do it artistically.’