Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Bruce Lee is a Bad Ass

Covered in cuts and in the heat of battle, Bruce Lee brings his finger to his mouth and savors the taste of his own blood. I can see why this movie was empowering for the Asian American community. Using only his bare hands and his wit, Lee’s able to overcome anything that he’s faced with at the same time making intense facial expressions. As the only Asian fighters in the tournament of American contenders, Bruce Lee is a champion for the common man.

In the first twenty minutes of the film I was struck by the similarities between “Enter the Dragon” and the early James Bond films. A secret mission to an unknown island, a sinister evil doer (“Mr. Han”), everything down to the music and cinematography reminded me of the James Bond films (minus the booze and womanizing). For such a landmark film in Asian American popular culture I guess I expected the film to establish a new genre distinct from the existing 007 spy film culture. Even in an attempt to break away from the traditional stereotype of an Asian male, Lee is still constricted to a distinctly American film genre.

There were several moments in the film that were worthy of commentary. In an attempt to depict Lee as a man of principle who refrains from sexual pleasures, Lee is stripped of any sexuality. The luscious display of Asian culture on Han’s island was used to differentiate Lee from the other American fighters, who subjugate the other women in the film (similar to James Bond). With little dialogue and emoting only rage, Lee is not as easy to relate to as the other characters in the film, maintaining his otherness. While the film overcomes the stereotype of the weak and helpless Asian male from “Broken Blossoms,” it reinforces more stereotypes than it breaks down.

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