I spent about 18 years as a professional martial artist, as I have mentioned before. Bruce Lee’s movies were a great inspiration – and I wasn’t surprised to find out that he was also a dance champion (jive, latin) when he was a college student. The elegance and speed of his martial arts work are breathtaking and you don’t need to be a fighter to dig such excellence. He was to the martial arts what Mohammed Ali was to boxing – someone who elevated gorgeous movement in their fighting art, setting dizzying standards. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” was an Ali signature that easily applied to Lee.
After he died, the world of kung-fu movies never really recovered, although new franchises were developed (not the least that of the comic Jackie Chan). But many young people have tried to imitate Bruce Lee, just as wannabe singers have developed their chops by mimicking Michael Jackson’s Thriller performance.
Now Nokia has dressed an expert of the nunchucka (two sticks linked by a chain as in the first photo) in Bruce Lee’s most famous jumpsuit and used fuzzy black-and-white camera work to produce a supposedly vintage piece of film in which this “Bruce Lee” beats two ping-pong experts. Why?
Turns out that Nokia has released a limited edition phone with various bits and pieces of Bruce Lee added – his face and signature on the case, a Bruce Lee doll, a nunchuck key holder and some preloaded images of the great actor. Technically it’s no different from the version that costs about $600, but Nokia seems confident that this ad will convince you that the $1300 tag is justified. From the day in the 60s I first saw hippy beaded headbands being sold in a department store, I have hated commercial co-optation. Here’s the ad, to be followed by a treat:
Fans of Bruce Lee have done some great tribute clips. If you want to see the real Bruce Lee working with his nunchuckas, check out this 6:40 minute excerpt from one of his early movies that has been put to the music of Sergei Prokofiev's “Romeo and Juliet”. The backstory is that Bruce Lee’s character is fearlessly confronting an entire martial arts school in order to right a wrong. The nunchucks start at 2:40, but if you skip forward you’ll miss some of his incomparable focused concentration, his majestic choreography and the moment (gasp) when he strips off his top. Isn’t he something?!