Movie Review: Be Water My Friend

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
Bruce Lee, a Warrior's Journey is not a documentary that deals with the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of this famous martial artist and actor but is a brilliant a tribute to his life work. It includes interviews with his widow Linda Lee Cadwell and martial artist and actors in his films such as Kareem Abdul Jabbar and how the martial artist performs on the screen.
Rare footage of Lee's interviews are included in the documenary with clips from television shows he starred in such as Kato in the Green Hornet. Although he received bit parts in American TV he eventually became one the most famous motion actor of the 60 's and 70-s.
In an early screen test from 1965 for a TV show that never happened Bruce Lee speaks about Gung Fu from China, the ancestor to Judo Karate and Jujitsu. These later martial arts were known in America because they were taught to US serviceman during the Korean War. Lee argued that the problem with these forms were that they were not fluid and stopped motion. As far as combative techniques, he said they were inadequate in real self defense situations and received criticism from the martial art community in the US: Lee created a fusion of martial arts and fighting techniques that were reality based and taught them in his schools. He developed he principle of interception in an approach he called Jeet Koon do, the way of the intercepting fist, and 'later described in the television series Longstreet in 1971. Southern California actors such as Steve McQueen and James Coburn Kareem Abdul Jabbar were taught his techniques.

Lee worked to promote global understanding of Chinese culture and roles for Chinese in film. He struggled to bring Realism to Chinese cinema instead of the tradtiional action films. Probably one of his biggest frustrations was losing the role of the Shaolin monk Caine to David Caradine in the Kung Fu TV series

While laid up for a back injury Lee dedicated himself to the study of motivational psychology and read Alan Watts , Carl Rogers, the Buddha, and in particular Krishnamurti. Lee's applied there ideas to his reality based techniques in martial arts and wrote about them in several volumes. He later came to say there is No help but self help. Instead of promoting a way he came to see the way is in the soul of the individual, using no way as way, having no limitation as limitation. And as with his other ideas these ideas are infused in his films
His best film the incomplete Game of Death edited after his death shows the failure of the industry to follow his ideas. From his original footate Two thirds were outtakes, 11 minutes were worthy of inclusion, and 21 minutes were discarded. Fans believed it was gone forever but this excellent documentary includes the missing footage Original scripts and story lines, with dialogue were recovered, original 35 mm film located reunited in this film.
One can not help but notice a combination of aggression and arrogance whenever Bruce Lee is on screen, but no doubt on his path he was forced to take matters into his own hand and adapt to each situation, As he liked to say, "Be Water My Friend".

For Movie Magazine This is Moira Sullivan, Stockholm Sweden
More Information:
Be Water My Friend
USA/Hong Kong - 2000