This is inspired by a column I read on another very popular film website. I’m not usually a fan of their articles, but once Brandon Lee was brought up, I couldn’t help but want to reflect on my own thoughts about him. So…
I cried when Brandon Lee died.
It sounds very silly, I agree, but in spite of your brow batting, I did.
I was young, I was very impressionable, and I looked for role models everywhere I turned. And yes, I somehow connected to Brandon Lee on an odd level.
Watching interviews, and basically reading articles from him, this was a guy who I thought was utterly bad a*s. His dad was Bruce Lee, he’d known martial arts extensively, was a very spiritual and well spoken guy, and was all around entertaining to watch and listen to. And he was about to start his career up.
Brandon Lee is much like James Dean in the sense of that he presented a charisma that signalled a potential influential character in American film. And yes, James Dean is a pure icon, but Brandon Lee also has many high points that I really loved, and with enough time and wise career choices, he would have had a career that would have been as respectable and raved as his father.
I believe this. There’s still many people who insist that Brandon Lee simply wasn’t going to get anywhere after “The Crow,” but I disagree. I thought he had the potential to go places, and learning about roles he was about to take, I was saddened.
Brandon Lee was a lot like your big brother’s cool friend, the one who drove in a motorcycle, and taught you things that really helped you to emulate him. And yes, it sounds silly to say, but I really am a fan of the man. I just am.
He was the predecessor in my “King of Cool” spot before Steve McQueen came along to wow me. Brandon Lee STILL holds a deep place in my mind whenever I look back at action movies, and the aspects of film that had enough ability to kick a*s on-screen if given enough time and the right career choices (allegedly, he was originally cast as Johnny Cage in “Mortal Kombat,” and was talking about sequels for “The Crow,” and “Rapid Fire”).
Lee’s filmography is utterly spotty and slim to none in terms of memorable moments. He appeared slightly in the movie of “Kung Fu” as a bald monk who engages in a battle with Carradine, starred in an awful science fiction movie that I have no intention of watching, and then there was “Rapid Fire” and “Showdown in Little Tokyo.”
“Showdown in Little Tokyo” is a bad film, I don’t deny that. I mean, we have the utterly slow Dolph Lundgren jumping over a car for f**k sake. But then there’s Brandon Lee, who is a lot of fun to watch. His character is a white fish in a foreign pond who learned martial arts for fun (if memory serves me correctly) and often gazes at much of the Asian villains and mythology with a sense of humor that you can tell even he doesn’t buy.
And then there’s “Rapid Fire,” a guilty pleasure I just enjoy watching, because it was a slow kick start for Lee. It’s a cheesy movie with a clichÃ© premise, but god is it ever fun. Lee is an artist who is stuck in a mob war, and his character is often involved in rather nonsensical flashbacks of a protest that I could never full comprehend, but Lee, again is fun. He pays homage to his father in the climax where he corrupts the home base of the triads, but he also sought out to define his own style, letting out loud screams at every fight scene.
One of my favorite sequences involves Lee in witness protection, and discovers the two cops assigned to protect him dead, and he fights off two of the assassins in the kitchen of the rundown apartment he’s staying in, and it’s a hoot to watch…
Let me tell you about my sheer obsession with the film “The Crow.” Where do I start? Suffice it to say, it’s a large explanation, take my word for it. I’ve written fan fictions, drawn endless pictures, I even spent three hours unsuccessfully painting my face up like Eric Draven one Halloween. Upon witnessing the first trailer for “The Crow” back in 1994, I was shocked.
Here was this amazing looking film that had an undead hero violently putting an end to the people who killed him, and he had his face painted up as, what I would later discover, Alice Cooper. And there was of course Brandon Lee starring, and taking hold of this role. This wasn’t particularly an action film even if its genre placement is still debatable.
Some people deem it as action, some deem it as horror. Brandon identified it as not so much an action movie, but more a supernatural film that hopefully put his talents on display. And without a doubt, it does. I’ve seen “The Crow” literally hundreds of times. Back in the mid-nineties, I borrowed the bootleg from a friend and watched it every day for a month. I’m not kidding.
And it’s still a fantastic film that I can’t help put on whenever I need to clear my head. Because beyond the talent behind it, Brandon Lee is a force to watch. His presence is electric, and the tension of Draven’s vicious vengeance and violent murders make the character sympathetic even in the face of using a victim as a pin cushion.
And sadly, it’s also the last film he’d ever make. A film that was also slightly incomplete.
Many of the shots featuring Draven were of shots with body doubles, computer effects, and even a stand in with a mold of Brandon’s face painted. But that doesn’t detract from the quality we see on-screen, it instead adds a sense of mystique and eeriness to the character of Draven and the production.
F**k the bullshit about curses, and destiny, and fate. Horrible things happen all the time. And many times they simply make no sense. Adding a spin to it doesn’t help it to resolve anything, it instead lulls us into a false sense of denial. Brandon Lee was caught in a freak accident, plain and simple. He didn’t deserve to die, and no one had it out for him. It was a freak accident.
And yes, I was very sad to discover he’d died one night. I was pissed.
Who knows what Lee could have or would have done had he not died, I can’t testify with certainty that he would have been a blockbuster star, or suffered the fate of Jeff Speakman. But as a continuous fan, I hope that if he had survived, he’d be a big star with many projects under his belt. A man who, like Michael Douglas, established his own legacy, while also being acknowledged as the son of a legend.
Lee is still a fun actor to watch on-screen, and I still miss him. Some things are just not meant to be, in life.
I’m still a fan. And always will be.
P.S. Don’t get cocky, Eli. The “Thanksgiving” trailer rocked, but that was three minutes long. You still suck.