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Why Bruce Lee and kung fu films hit home with black audiences

posted Sep 11, 2012, 4:43 PM by Vu Nguyen
Here's an interesting article from the Guardian talking about why black audiences love Chinese films.  The article talk about the recent I AM BRUCE LEE documentary, which I think is an excellent documentary for people who aren't familiar with the star.

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Why Bruce Lee and kung fu films hit home with black audiences
Posted by Phil Hoad  Wednesday 18 July 2012 07.02 EDT

(excerpt)

"Cross-cultural stuff has been going on in the ghettoes for a long time," says producer-writer James Schamus, whose Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon played big to black audiences, too. "Remember Bruce Lee was probably the greatest African-American star of the 70s. And that culture persists." That's certainly what comes across in new documentary I Am Bruce Lee, where one commentator goes as far as suggesting love for Lee ran so deep in the black community because, as Hong Kong's 1958 cha-cha champion, his footwork bore the hallmarks of a rhythm that ultimately had African roots.

There are more obvious reasons, though. In the 1970s, Lee was a rare non-white leading man, and an unfeasibly cool one at that. His four (completed) films amounted to a picture of a world in which oppression – whether from drug lords, Japanese imperialists or cat-executing pseudo-Bond villains – was swatted aside with hyper-kinetic ultraviolence. You can see why his creed of righteous self-reliance appealed to black audiences, who were emerging from the civil rights struggles, but were still subject to plenty of prejudice.

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