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Beyond Bruce Lee

Beyond Bruce Lee: Chasing the Dragon Through Film, Philosophy, and Popular Culture

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Beyond Bruce Lee
    Book Description:

    In order to understand Bruce Lee, we must look beyond Bruce Lee to the artist's intricate cultural and historical contexts. This work begins by contextualising Lee, examining his films and martial arts work, and his changing cultural status within different times and places. The text examines Bruce Lee's films and philosophy in relation to the popular culture and cultural politics of the 1960s and 1970s, and it addresses the resurgence of his popularity in Hong Kong and China in the twenty-first century. The study also explores Lee's ongoing legacy and influence in the West, considering his function as a shifting symbol of ethnic politics and the ways in which he continues to inform Hollywood film-fight choreography.Beyond Bruce Leeultimately argues Lee is best understood in terms of "cultural translation" and that his interventions and importance are ongoing.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-85036-0
    Subjects: Film Studies, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. chapter one BEYOND BRUCE LEE
    (pp. 1-41)

    To make sense of Bruce Lee we need to look beyond Bruce Lee. We need to look beyond the individual, the figure, the films and the other texts, and into the historical contexts of the emergence and influence of these different elements. In this sense, the ‘beyond’ of my title aims to refer both to thebeforeas much as to theafterof Bruce Lee, to what feeds into and what comes out of the emergence, the moment, the event, or intervention of Bruce Lee. It also signals that we will be concerned with more than just Bruce Lee...

    (pp. 42-64)

    To suggest that seeing Bruce Lee could perhaps have some relation to politics or to the political may seem preposterous. However, there are several ways to verify this claim. The most obvious is empirical: the sheer volume of the occurrence and even prominence of the figure of Bruce Lee in political or politicised discourses. Bruce Lee often features as a countercultural motif, in much the same way as (and sometimes even alongside) the likes of Che Guevara and Jimi Hendrix. As testified by innumerable autobiographical accounts, filmic allusions and popular cultural juxtapositions and combinations, Lee functions in diverse popular narratives...

  6. chapter three BRUCE LEE BEYOND PEDAGOGY
    (pp. 65-99)

    No consideration of Bruce Lee – or indeed of thebeyondof Bruce Lee – can overlook his importance as a muse, an inspiration and an educator. I have followed the likes of Meaghan Morris and Davis Miller before in foregrounding this dimension of Lee’s legacies, and want to do so again in this chapter, because of the fundamental and perennial significance of this topic for studies of Lee, of martial arts, and indeed of culturetout court. So, in this chapter, I return to key examples and instances of Bruce Lee (and) pedagogy, in order to set out and then to...

    (pp. 100-124)

    Bruce Lee has always been construed as a figure who existed at various cross roads – a kind of chiasmatic figure, into which much was condensed, and displaced. His films, even though in a sense being relatively juvenile action flicks, have also been regarded as spanning the borders and bridging the gaps between ‘trivial’ popular culture and ‘politicised’ cultural movements (see Brown 1997; Morris 2001; Prashad 2001; Kato 2007). That is, although on the one hand, they are all little more than fantastic choreographies of aestheticised masculinist violence, on the other, they worked to produce politicised identifications and modes of subjectivisation...

    (pp. 125-161)

    Many studies and narratives about Bruce Lee end in disappointment. This disappointment, I intend to show, is a specific consequence of the approach which is characterised bynostalgia. This nostalgia takes many forms. Here are some of the most common narratives: Bruce Lee once politicised ethnic, subaltern and postcolonial consciousness, but this energy dissipated; Bruce Lee smashed certain Orientalist stereotypes about Asian males, but this ultimately intensified other stereotypes; Bruce Lee diversified and ethnicised the previously white realm of international film and the associated global popular cultural imaginary, but the effects of this achievement were limited by the subsequent easy...

  9. chapter six SPECTRES OF BRUCE LEE
    (pp. 162-172)

    As we have seen, in the 1970s, Bruce Lee was the very symbol of postcolonial, diasporic multicultural energy (see Miller 2000; Prashad 2001; Kato 2007); the embodiment of what Rey Chow has called ‘the protestant ethnic’ (see Chow 2002; Nitta 2010). However, as we have also seen, in the bookFrom Tiananmen to Times Square(2006), Gina Marchetti considers the waning of the affect of the socio-political charge of the image and politics of Bruce Lee in America. That is, although in the 1970s, Bruce Lee was this symbol of postcolonial, diasporic, multicultural ‘protestant ethnicity’, by the 1990s, the passions...

    (pp. 173-196)

    In 1973,Enter the Dragonwas released. In many respects, this East/West coproduction was very familiar: it was, after all, just another cheesy, formulaic action flick, essentially repeating a James Bond format. However, one thing about it was different: Bruce Lee. Indeed, so different was Lee that this formulaic film changed things. Its effects were transformative. It wasan event. And with the word ‘event’, as shown in earlier chapters, I mean to evoke all of the resonances and associations that both Badiou and Rancière attribute to ‘events’. Of course, as acinematicevent, this complex technological simulacrum of a...

    (pp. 197-206)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 207-214)