Monday, October 12, 2015

Director Brian Trenchard-Smith on the Life and Legacy of Bruce Lee


There's a nice Bruce Lee article on the site Talkhouse this week. Brian Trenchard-Smith is a very prolific director of (mostly) low-budget fare. Don't let the downmarket pedigree fool you though, he is a very smart man and a clever, talented filmmaker.

His piece on Bruce Lee, still the most influential martial arts star ever despite his comparatively minuscule filmed output and early death at the age of 32, has some nice insight about Bruce and his place in film and cultural history, and the director recalls his ill-fated trip to meet Lee and pitch the film that eventually became Trenchard-Smith's gonzo action thrill-ride THE MAN FROM HONG KONG.

Most interestingly is Trenchard-Smith's perspective as a director and it's Lee the director as much as Lee the star he mourns.
"He was only 32, with a grasp of the dynamics of action staging that was ahead of the curve. He planned to put spiritual content and Asian values into his forthcoming Hollywood movies. What might his oeuvre have contained if he was still directing today in his seventies and beyond, like Scorsese, Eastwood and Ridley Scott?"
Lee only signed one film as director but he is as much auteur of his films as a great comedy team is of theirs. You can see his mark in the staging of action, the casting and even in aesthetic decisions made for non-action scenes. It is easy to pick out which scenes in his early films were not directed by Lee because of their lack of dynamism and reliance on cheap corner-cutting techniques. As he grew older he would probably have become primarily a director, and we are all the worse for not having decades of Bruce Lee films to enjoy.

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