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TitleTheorizing Bruce Lee: Film-Fantasy-Fighting-Philosophy (Contemporary Cinema)
ISBN 139789042027770
CategoryArts - Film
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size1.8 MB
Total Pages260
Table of Contents
                            Theorizing Bruce Lee
Contents
User Guide: Main Menu
Chapter 1. Introduction Theorizing Bruce Lee: Sublime Object of Academia
Chapter 2. Film—Fantasy: The Communication of Screen Violence
Chapter 3. Fantasy—Fighting
Chapter 4. Fighting—Philosophy
Works Cited and Consulted
Filmography
Index
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Theorizing Bruce Lee

Page 130

Fantasy–Fighting 125

that, upon seeing a martial arts film or spectacle, men or women might
henceforth be likely to fantasize about violence, as Preston does at one
moment in his narrative when he imagines with relish the fantasy scenario
of striding into the office of a newspaper that pulled out of publishing a
story theyÕd commissioned from him, and kicking their asses in the man-
ner of Bruce Lee?

My position is that one need not essentialize or construct a fantasy
about the ÔnecessaryÕ character or contents of a fixed, stable or essential
Ôhuman natureÕ in order to regard something like ÔviolenceÕ as constitu-
tive or inevitable. For instance, post-structuralist and post-Marxist para-
digms propose the notion of ÔantagonismÕ (and conflict) as not only inevi-
table, but also constitutive. Such approaches offer us a variety of ways
out of or away from essentialisms about Ôhuman natureÕ or Ômale fan-
tasyÕ. In such approaches, identities and institutions themselves are re-
garded as arising in response to antagonistic plays of forces (Protevi
2001). Indeed, antagonism and conflict are regarded as constitutive of
identities. As Paul de Man puts it, ÔviolenceÕ may be regarded both as
Ôself-constitutiveÕ (1978: 24) and as inevitably entailing conflict with
otherness. Subjects Ôhave to behave in such a potentially violent and au-
thoritarian wayÕ because Ôthis is the only way in which it can constitute its
own existence, its own groundÕ:

Entities, in themselves, are neither distinct nor defined; no one could say
where one entity ends and where another begins. They are mere flux,
ÔmodificationsÕ. By considering itself as the place where this flux occurs,
the mind stabilizes itself as the ground of the flux, the lieu de passage
through which all reality has to passÉ (de Man 1978: 24)

Similarly, Fredric Jameson has insisted that the relationship between so-
cial and cultural Ôgroups is, so to speak, unnaturalÕ, always based on Ôthe
chance external contact between entitiesÕ (qtd. in Chow 2002: 55). Recip-
rocally, what is also significant here is that other than through ÔcontactÕ
with other groups, ÔgroupsÕ themselves cannot otherwise be said to have
an ÔexteriorÕ (and hence arguably no sense of ÔidentityÕ as such). They are
not properly ÔgroupsÕ before contact with that which they rub up against a
surface of and decide they are not. There is no group before the antago-
nistic attempt to distinguish and distance a self from an other group. In
JamesonÕs words, groups Ôhave only an interior (É) and no exterior or
external surface, save in this special circumstance in which it is precisely

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126 Theorizing Bruce Lee

the outer edge of the group that — all the while remaining unrepresentable
— brushes against that of the otherÕ. ÔSpeaking crudely thenÕ, he contin-
ues, Ôwe would have to say that the relationship between groups must
always be one of struggle and violenceÕ (qtd. in Chow 2002: 55). The
reconceptualization of violence and conflict as factors that are constitutive
of identity is an extremely important insight for any cultural study. Vio-
lence, antagonism and conflict are not secondary elements that might
somehow be eradicated over time — as if violence might subside if people
would only start to be nicer to each other.

Such insights are equally important for the study of Bruce Lee, of
course, and in more ways than one. We might consider for instance the
memorable moment in Fist of Fury when Bruce Lee affirms: ÔNow you
listen to me. I will say this only once. We are not sick menÕ. This comes
at the culmination of LeeÕs famous battle in the Japanese school, the point
at which he returns the offensive framed poster of the words ÔSick Men of
AsiaÕ to the Japanese School. The Japanese martial artists irreverently
presented this offensive ÔgiftÕ to the Chinese School at the official funeral
of the Chinese schoolÕs master. Seeking revenge for this outrageous act of
disrespect, Lee has marched into the Japanese dojo, beaten every student
and teacher, and forced two senior Japanese martial artists to do what
they had earlier arrogantly vowed: namely, to Ôeat these wordsÕ if any
Chinese could beat them. Lee makes them do precisely this by shattering
the frame and glass, tearing the poster out and stuffing handfuls of paper
into their mouths and cautioning: ÔThis time youÕre eating paper. The
next time it will be glassÕ. Revenge, a sense of justice, a sadistic jouis-
sance, an assertion of identity, self-regard or self-love, and indeed actu-
ally the ÔdiscoveryÕ (invention) of a certain identity through a violent en-
counter with an other: all of these are present here. As Davis Miller puts
it:

ÔWe are not the sick men of Asia,Õ LeeÕs screen character proclaimed to
Japanese persecutors in Fist of Fury. With this single declaration (scripted
by Lo Wei), several thousand punches and kicks, and an avenging tomcat-
from-hell battle scream created expressly for this picture, Bruce Lee tran-
scended pop idol status and came to be regarded as a messiah not only by
millions of Hong Kong Chinese, but eventually by hundreds of millions of
put-upon people throughout the world. (Miller 2000: 120)

Stephen Teo argues that while to Western viewers ÔLee is a narcissistic
hero who makes Asian culture more accessibleÕ (113), to Eastern viewers

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254 Theorizing Bruce Lee

Show-business 146, 148
Signification 25, 33-4, 70, 85-6,
102, 120, 202-3
Siliphant, Stirling 159, 198
Silverman, Kaja 88, 141, 144-5,
149-51
Simulacrum 58, 59, 85, 88, 97,
101, 177
Sociology 47, 107, 221-4
Sommer, Elke 198
Socrates 49, 97n
Special effects 69-74, 79-81
Spectacle 137-154
Spielberg, Steven 21
Spirituality 100, 178
Sport 37-9, 51, 139
Spy fiction 25, 26, 33, 37
Star Wars 15, 23
Stereotypes 7, 9-10, 34, 58, 105,
141-2, 229
Style 2, 3, 16, 17, 38-9, 41-2,
43, 45, 49, 53-4, 63-5, 73-4, 76,
77, 79, 82, 83, 122, 138, 144,
153-7, 159, 166-8, 170-1, 179,
184, 187-92, 193, 202, 206-7,
228
Subaltern 135
Subjectivization 121, 136, 139,
213, 216, 218-19
Sunshine 79
Symbolic order 88, 141, 144,
145, 151, 226
Symptom 49, 59, 61, 107, 128,
133-4, 177-8, 191, 204, 209

Taekwondo 70, 138-9, 151, 152,
206

T’ai chi 203
Tan, George 15, 184-5, 198
Taoism 59-60, 94, 123, 177-80,
190, 193-8, 202, 227
Tarantino, Quentin 157-9
Tel Quel 224
Teo, Stephen 23, 69, 123, 125-
30, 134-5
Textual analysis 29-30, 32, 42
Thatcher, Margaret 148
The Big Boss 18, 168
The Bourne Identity 75, 80-1,
121
The Chinese Connection; see
Fist of Fury
The Crow 22
The F Word 79
The Fifth Element 24
The Game of Death 155-60, 165
The Green Hornet 26, 55, 159-
60
The Karate Kid 168
The Karate Kid II 80, 82
The Last Samurai 27-28, 31
The Last Emperor 155
The Lion King 15
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 25,
26, 121
The Matrix 24, 26, 41, 79, 103,
207
The Mechanic 36
The Octagon 36
The Silent Flute 57, 80-2, 159
The Warrior 35, 57, 227
Thomas, Bruce 57-8, 69, 88,
176, 215
Thompson, Geoff 152

Page 260

Index 255

Tierney, Sean 24, 26-32, 35, 41
Traditional Chinese Medicine
40

Ultimate Fighting Competition
39, 139
Undecidability 51, 107, 130,
172-75, 200
Universality 124
Universalization 25
UNESCO 45-6

Van Damme, Jean Claude 27,
121, 191
Vedanta 94
Vietnam War 17, 26, 93, 122,
141
Violence 7, 9, 13, 16, 35, 56,
67-117, 121, 124-6, 130, 139,
143, 161, 212-14
Visibility 4, 71, 78-9

Wall, Bob 74, 140
Wallace, Bill 35
Warner Brothers 11, 198
Warriors 162
Watts, Alan 93-4, 102, 193, 195,
196, 199
Way of the Dragon 3, 18, 19,
23, 31, 69, 76, 77, 82, 117, 135,
156
Wayne, John 13, 111, 122
Weber, Sam 172-3, 208
Wei, Lo 74, 126
West, the 14, 19, 20, 24, 25, 33,
34, 37-42, 50, 58, 63, 93-4, 123,

127-8, 135, 138-9, 151, 161,
176, 179, 203
Western Buddhism 60, 213
Westernisation 25, 41
White/whiteness, 24-32, 35, 57-
9, 91, 127, 135-6, 141, 190, 204,
213, 215, 219; see also Black
and Yellow
Whittaker, Forrest 81, 91
Wing Chun 54, 57-8, 59, 70,
158, 177, 187
Wire-fu 47, 74
Wu, Dr Peter 23
Wushu 33, 35, 47

Xu, Jian, 50, 52-3, 86

Yellow 18, 114-16, 155, 157,
159; see also White and Black
Yin and Yang 77, 145, 203
Yip Man 57, 187
Yoga 60, 94
You Only Live Twice 26

Zen Buddhism 1, 90, 93-4, 101,
143, 167, 190, 195, 196, 199,
227-29
¶i”ek, Slavoj 48, 59-64, 87,
119-20, 148, 176-78, 182, 190,
200, 209-13, 217, 220-3

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