Sunday, April 06, 2008

A six-minute trailer for China Central Television’s (CCTV) upcoming Bruce Lee biopic miniseries, THE LEGEND OF BRUCE LEE, has landed on Youtube. Footage shows KUNG FU HUSTLE star Chan Kwok-kwan and a familiar cast of Western genre talent including Mark Dacascos fighting with exaggerated direction certain to cause controversy among Bruce Lee fans.


I’d say they put the show’s $6.4 million budget to good use. Production look very good by Chinese television standards and as an action series in general, it actually looks promising. What may draw the most heat from fans is what appears to be highly stylized action that makes liberal use of wirework to enhance Chan’s physical performance.

Like Lee, Chan has a background in dance but not in martial arts. He’s been training to some extent at least as far back as when Stephen Chow cast him as a Bruce Lee look-a-like goalie in SHAOLIN SOCCER (2001). Chan may be relying on artifice for his screen fighting but he needs no help in looking the part. There have been dozens of actors who have been cast in the mold of Bruce Lee, even superstars Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen have taken their turn. I’d wager that Chan Kwok-kwan has nearly all of them beat on looks.

The 40-episode series is the latest attempt, among many since Bruce Lee’s death in 1973, to dramatize his life on screen. In addition to featuring Dacascos, who plays a Thai fighter, the cast includes Ray Park (STAR WARS 1 - THE PHANTOM MENACE) as Chuck Norris, Michael Jai White (UNDISPUTED 2) as Ali, prolific B-movie star Gary Daniels (CITY HUNTER), and former pro-wrestler Ernest “The Cat” Miller.

At first glance, I thought Dacascos might have been playing Dan Inosanto but I guess a nameless Tony Jaa-like character was their aim. A potentially good casting choice is White who I presume to be Mohammad Ali. White gave a solid performance as a heavyweight boxer in UNDISPUTED 2.

THE LEGEND OF BRUCE LEE began production in April of 2007 and is scheduled to begin airing in China later this year, in time for the Beijing Olympics.

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