The Fight Nerd

June 20, 2014

Fight Nerd Cinema: “Stoner” Movie Review

Filed under: Features,Movie Reviews — Tags: , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 10:16 AM

Despite having an unfortunate title in this release, this Golden Harvest film has also gone under the alias of “A Man Called Stoner”, “Hong Kong Hitman”, and “The Shrine of Ultimate Bliss”. Released in 1974, this movie was set to be Bruce Lee’s follow-up to 1973′s “Game of Death”. Unfortunately, Bruce died before he could complete filming of Game of Death, and that movie would not be released until years later. That would be only the beginning of the problems for this movie behind the scenes, but on camera, “Stoner” is a pretty great Kung Fu movie that has been re-released by Shout Factory as part of The Angela Mao Ying Collection , and is worth checking out.

Starring Angela Mao, former James Bond actor George Lazenby, and Hong Kong movie veterans Sammo Hung, Wilson Tong, Hwang In-Shik and Betty Ting Pei (whose apartment was where Bruce Lee was found dead), the movie plays one-part secret agent/ police story, and one-part Hong Kong Kung Fu flick. It’s a departure from many other Golden Harvest movies at the time, with this being set in modern times and having a more timely exploitation feel, complete with a cheesy 70′s soundtrack. Angela Mao plays a Hong Kong police officer who has to uncover the truth behind a cargo ship and its underworld connections, which is a group of mobsters who are creating and trafficking a new highly-addictive drug called “Happy Pill”. Fast forward to a drug den/ orgy in Australia, where George Lazenby literally bursts into the scene in search of his sister, who has overdosed to death on the drug. The two stories slowly merge once Lazenby arrives in Hong Kong as the pair each get closer in resolving their missions, even though it takes them over two hours and 20 minutes to join forces.

“Stoner” is a super-cheesy throwback filled with dated exploitation tropes from drug orgies, obscene amounts of nudity, and awful moustaches, but that is also what makes it a ton of fun to watch. Not only do we get hand to hand combat in this movie, but we also get a car chase which was unusual for the average HK action movie at that time. Best of all, tons of awful tight ’70′s bell bottom pants – count all the times the butt or crotch seam rips while people are fighting! There is also much more development of the baddies as opposed to other movies. We see much more of them making drugs, being evil, and having lavish parties that involve a good deal of topless women serving drinks.

Speaking of, the fight scenes are much more spread out in this movie compared to the others we have seen in this Angela Mao collection. Lazenby adjusts well to the HK style of cinematic fighting, working his butt off in the majority of the fight scenes in the movie. He is not as tight with his moves as his Chinese counterparts are, but he holds his own, and I can respect him for that. Mao does her usual routine of beating up droves of bad guys, and also shows her versatility as an actress and not just an action star. Mao and Lazenby do have a short fight scene, which is decent but mostly odd (watch and you will understand). The climax of the film is extremely action-packed and makes up for much of the slowness in the beginning, especially with Mao’s final fight. Sammo Hung was actually the fight choreographer in this movie, so we can thank him for getting Lazenby ready to fight, and for making Mao shine like she always does.

Overall, “Stoner” feels like a distant cousin of the Golden Harvest films of that era, but also a precursor of things to come for them. It’s a solid HK movie that feels slightly Americanized, and that is where it is weakest. But whenever Angela comes on screen, everything suddenly gets better.

You can get this movie, along with five other Angela Mao movies with The Angela Mao Ying Collection from Shout Factory, and I definitely recommend getting this set today for some very high-quality martial arts action that beats the old grainy VHS tapes that we are used to seeing these on.

June 1, 2014

“Bruce Lee: The Celebrated Life of the Golden Dragon” Book Review

Filed under: Product Reviews — Tags: , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 11:39 AM

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This June marks the 41st anniversary of the passing of Bruce Lee, the martial arts legend that many students of the arts were inspired to train by from watching his films. Lee was a pioneer in martial arts, one who we have discussed in great lengths previously on this site, and there is plenty to learn still from this man who gave so much of himself to combat endeavors. There is an enormous amount of merchandise to look at about Bruce, and we have reviewed plenty of it in the past as well, and the chances are high that this is something that will never truly exhaust itself.

Released by Tuttle Publishing, “Bruce Lee: The Celebrated Life of the Golden Dragon” is another part of Tuttle’s Bruce Lee library, which encompasses nearly every aspect of Bruce’s life in the martial arts and beyond. This hardcover book by John Little, which weighs in at around 180 pages, is the companion piece to the authors documentary, “Bruce Lee: In His Own Words”, which you can find in most DVD copies of “Enter the Dragon” as a special feature. Little was the driving force over the past few decades in continuing to spread Bruce Lee’s legacy, paving the way for newer experts such as Paul Bowman to leave their mark. Many of Tuttle’s books on Bruce Lee were written by Little, and are all brimming with information on every aspect of how Lee lived his life.

This particular book is a photo essay that combines the interviews that Little had done for his documentary, along with many never before seen photos from Lee and anecdotes from the man himself. A full color book (when applicable, since many photos are in black & white since that is how they were shot), nearly every page is a gorgeous photo of Bruce Lee in all his glory.

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Ranging from old family photos of Bruce growing up, including rare pics of his family, to his time coming to America and slowly working his way up to becoming the star that we remember him as today, this book is hero worshipping at its finest. The action junkies can get their fix with images of Bruce fighting Chuck Norris, training with Daniel Inosanto, or beating up Bob Wall and Bolo Yeung. More sentimental fans will enjoy seeing the vulnerable human side of Bruce, posing candidly with his children and wife.

In terms of substance, there is not a ton, but just enough. This is a glorified coffee table book that is not a biography of Bruce or a treatise on his training methods, although Tuttle has those books for you as well if you are interested, but is a photo gallery of the man’s life accompanied by quotes and pieces of his writing. The book is assembled in a mostly chronological order, so you can still tell the story of his life from it, just not as well as in other books. It’s almost a motivational book the way it is structured, especially since Lee was very interested in psychology. You will find it hard not to feel like doing something physical after flipping through this book.

The big sell point for this book is the huge color photos that just look so great. Without getting knee deep in a discussion on film vs digital photography, there truly is something special about older photographs that resonate and have weight. When your subject is Bruce Lee, you are guaranteed something dynamic, stoic, expressive, and an emotional experience.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this book is worth millions of words. As long as you remember this is not a detailed biography, even though there are biographical elements to it, and you enjoy the photo essay, then this book is a must have if you are a fan of Bruce Lee and martial arts in general. It’s one thing to see a few Bruce photos on the internet, it’s another to hold them in your hand and see them in a larger scale, something that I appreciate a great deal.

You can order “Bruce Lee: The Celebrated Life of the Golden Dragon” from Amazon.com for around $15, and is worth getting if you are a fan of Bruce Lee, and really, who isn’t?

April 7, 2014

Bruce Lee enters the octagon in first “EA Sports UFC” Video Game

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 1:08 PM

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The UFC and EA announced today that Bruce Lee, “The Father of Mixed Martial Arts”, will make his historic first step into the Octagon in EA SPORTS UFC, launching June 17, 2014. Fans can pre-order today to get instant day-one access to Bruce, or they can complete the game’s career mode at Pro difficulty to unlock him. Players can fight with the legend across four different weight classes and test his legacy against the best of the best in the UFC.

“I am so excited about this opportunity to bring my father back to videogames!” said Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter, CEO of Bruce Lee, LLC and Chairperson of the Bruce Lee Foundation. “I’m thrilled that fans can now interact with him in a new way. The EA SPORTS UFC development team has been incredible to work with, and they’ve done a great job capturing the look and feel of my father. I think people will love getting a chance to fulfill a fight fantasy by playing Bruce Lee in the new UFC game.”

“There’s no debate, Bruce Lee is the father of mixed martial arts,” said Dana White, UFC President. “He believed not one style of fighting was the best and that you had to have a little piece of everything to be a complete fighter. He was proven right when the first UFC event took place in 1993.”

“It has always been part of our vision to have Bruce Lee, the most iconic martial artist of all time, in the first ever EA SPORTS UFC,” said Brian Hayes, Creative Director, EA. “The team is very excited and tremendously honored to have the privilege of bringing Bruce Lee to life in our game. We’ve been working closely with the Bruce Lee team to ensure we represent the legend with as much visual and gameplay fidelity as possible.”

Powered by EA SPORTS IGNITE technology, EA SPORTS UFC is built from the ground up exclusively for Gen 4 platforms, EA SPORTS UFC captures the human athleticism, physiology and emotion of the athlete like nothing before it.

June 14, 2013

“Bruce Lee Mimobot” Flash Drive Review

Filed under: Product Reviews — Tags: , , — The Fight Nerd @ 10:00 AM

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This year marks the 40th anniversary of “Enter the Dragon”, the martial arts epic that created a whole genre of movies. With this landmark occasion happening, there are plenty of products coming out this year to help bring the Bruce Lee name back into households. From the release of “Enter the Dragon” on blu-ray, to a plethora of books and action figures, one of the more surprising items would be a flash drive.

Made by Mimoco, who also make flash drives of other licensed properties such as Transformers, Star Trek, Star Wars, GI Joe, and even My Little Pony, there are two Bruce flash drives out on the market, one out now and one coming soon. A version from Enter the Dragon with all of his battle scars from his fight against Han which is soon to be released, and the version that I got my hands on that features his yellow tracksuit and nunchuks from “Game of Death”. The Lee flash drive is part of their “Legends” line, which also includes Albert Einstein, George Washington, Elvis Presley, and Abraham Lincoln (a unique line-up when you look at it).

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Standing two and a half inches tall and one inch wide, this high speed USB 2.0 flash drive comes in a few different capacities, ranging from 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB, all the way up to 64 GB. Compatible for both Window and Mac operating systems, the drive comes pre-loaded with desktop wallpapers, app icons, and avatars to pimp your computer out. When you plug this mimobot into your computer, a little red light glows between his legs to let you know it is being read. The illustration of Bruce on the front is both cute and menacing at the same time, with a bit of battle damage from his last brawl. The only thing that could have made it better was Kareem’s footprint on his chest, but that minor detail would only make this already cool item even cooler.

This is not my first mimobot, in fact I believe it is my seventh (my collection includes Captain Picard, Jake the Dog and Finn the Human from “Adventure Time”, and Admiral Ackbar to name a few), and they are a lot of fun to have. Being that they are shaped differently and feature a fancy design, they do cost more than the average flash drive, but it is worth it. The hard plastic shell makes them more durable than most flash drives, and they are definitely conversation pieces when you whip one of them out to do a data transfer, something I do often in my line of work. For the price you pay, these are also pretty fast drives, making that exchange of info quick and efficient.

You can order the Bruce Lee mimobot flash drive directly from Mimoco, starting at $20 for the 8 GB model, and $55 for the 64 GB one. I love Mimobots, and if you are as nerdy as I am, there is no reason not to own at least one, especially when it has the face of a martial arts icon like Bruce Lee on it. This drive is both fun and functional, and I definitely recommend you get one for yourself.

June 10, 2013

“Enter the Dragon: 40th Anniversary Edition” Blu-Ray Review

Filed under: Product Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 10:06 AM

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Bruce Lee is the ultimate icon of the martial arts movie world, bringing Kung Fu to an audience that knew little about the Asian combat sports, spawning an entire genre with his few movies the basis for how its predecessors would look. In 1973, not long after the untimely death of Bruce Lee, his magnum opus “Enter the Dragon” was released to American audiences. The first martial arts movie to be backed by an American movie company and made almost exclusively overseas, “Enter the Dragon” grossed around $25 million domestically in it’s initial release, and has continued to thrill moviegoers for 40 years. To honor this momentous landmark for the movie, Warner Bros. has re-released the movie as a special edition on Blu-Ray packed with plenty of other great items to make this the complete “Enter the Dragon” experience.

For those of you that don’t already know the plot of the movie, Bruce essentially plays himself, but under the employment of Interpol to infiltrate the island of a druglord, Han (Shih Kien), to get evidence on him so the agency can swoop in and finally bust him on his own turf. Han runs a martial arts tournament, and with Lee’s background in Kung Fu, he is hired to enter the tournament and dig up info. Of course, Bruce has his own reasons to compete as we learn later, as do the two men he befriends, gambler and ladies man Roper (John Saxon) and jive-talkin’ Karate fighter Williams (Jim Kelly). The trio fight to not only to win, but to survive. The movie also stars plenty of other martial arts greats in their earliest roles, such as Sammo Hung, Bob Wall, Bolo Yeung, Angela Mao, Jackie Chan, and plenty of others.

Little needs to be said about the movie, the action scenes speak for themselves. Sure, there is some cheesy acting, but it was the 70′s! Bruce is at his absolute best here, whipping around hundreds of extras like they were nothing, while simultaneously doling out zen philosophy. Jim Kelly is definitely a fan-favorite, making his film debut that would lead to his own movie, “Black Belt Jones”. Wonderful art direction and choreography complete the feeling of unusual claustrophobia while being trapped on what is a paradise hiding a dark secret in its core. One of the best martial arts movies out there, and you have never seen it, you seriously need to get on that.

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The image is as crisp as it can be, considering how old this is and how the original print was probably not taken care of much when it was first released. Definitely the best resolution that hardcore fans have seen through the previous versions of this film that have been released. The audio sounds just as impressive as it did before, so overall a fine upgrade of a classic in terms of improving the overall quality of the movie. The presentation of the product is bar-none, making things feel epic as soon as you pop this blu-ray into your player and before it even begins showing. “Immersive” is the best word to describe this entire set, and it starts as soon as press play.

This special edition set comes packed with a few goodies aside from extras, stuffed in a red envelope with a golden logo on it. Inside the envelope, you will find an iron-on patch and replicas of original promotional materials from the 1973 release such as a card to deputize you as an “ally of the dragon”, postcards, a copy of the original first page of the script (which sports the movie’s original title, “Blood and Steel”), storyboards, and a lenticular card of Bruce whipping his nunchuks around. There is also a small booklet that previews “Enter the Dragon” A Photographer’s Journey”, another new book released later this year with Dave Friedman recounting his time on the set of the movie as the photographer.

This release features many special features from the last DVD release of this, which was essentially the 30th anniversary edition. This includes the original insightful commentary track with producer Paul Heller, a documentary called “Blood and Steel”, the making of the film, “Curse of the Dragon”, a documentary narrated by George Takei about the mystery surrounding Bruce’s death, There are also a ton of TV and theatrical trailers for the original film, as well as footage of Lee working out in his backyard and his famous Pierre Berton interview. I was very happy to see “Blood and Steel” on Blu-Ray, as it is one of the best Bruce Lee documentaries (aside from “I am Bruce Lee“) and is the only way to see all 45 minutes of the original “Game of Death” which has extended fight scenes with Dan Inosanto and Kareem Abdul-Jabar, a must-see for hardcore fans.

Some of the new features include are “No Way as Way”, a 26-minute documentary on the “self-mastery” that Bruce was a proponent of, and features other people influenced by Bruce’s martial arts philosophy in and out of the fight world. There is also “The Return to Han’s Island”, an interesting (and self-explanatory) feature, “Wing Chun: The Art that introduced Kung Fu to Bruce Lee” which discusses the roots of Bruce’s interest and upbringing in traditional Chinese martial arts that led to his own creation, Jeet Kune Do, and new interviews with his wife, Linda Lee Caldwell. The new features essentially complete the stories that were missing on the previous release, which is demystifying the martial philosophy that Lee held, and revisiting the history of the movie itself.

You can order Enter the Dragon: 40th Anniversary Edition on Blu-Ray from Amazon.com for only $35, a great deal for what is ultimately the best version of this masterpiece of martial arts movies that will ever be made. I recommend this for everyone – period. Tons of special features, amazing quality, and even memorabilia to make this the best version of the most important and influential martial arts movie ever.

Don’t forget to check out these other items we have reviewed related to Bruce Lee: The Treasures of Bruce Lee, Beyond Bruce Lee, Theorizing Bruce Lee

April 9, 2013

“Beyond Bruce Lee” Book Review

Filed under: Product Reviews — Tags: , , — The Fight Nerd @ 10:12 AM

2013 is a big year for Bruce Lee fans, as it marks both the 40th anniversary of the debut of “Enter the Dragon”, the most influential martial arts movie of all time, as well as the 40th anniversary of Bruce’s passing. There will be a lot of things happening this year to honor the memory of the originator of Jeet Kune Do, including a new re-release of “Enter the Dragon”, and several documentaries and books. We recently took a look at “The Treasures of Bruce Lee”, which I highly recommended. “Beyond Bruce Lee”, written by the same author of the latter book (Paul Bowman, is another of the year’s releases on the world-famous kung fu icon, and is a completely different direction from the coffee table book.

Weighing in at a very dense 210 pages, “Beyond Bruce Lee” is just as the title says. While the “Treasures” was purely about Bruce, this book examines the cultural and historical relevance of his movies, including his philosophies, the politics that influenced his movies, and in relation to the pop culture environment that his movies were created in. Dr. Bowman likes to call it “cultural translation”, something that is ongoing with Bruce Lee’s legacy, and this book digs deep to add context to a very complex man.

When I call this book “dense”, I mean that the content is very heavy and deep reading. It includes chapters on post-colonialism in China and how the locals used pop-culture as their form of protest and nationalism, how Bruce’s movies were influenced by those politics, the philosophies that would shape his thoughts on JKD as well as life itself, the influence of Lee on films after and how he became the archetype for martial arts movies, and much, much more. It’s as if we are in Lee’s mind, learning what he learned and seeing the things that he saw that transformed him into the most recognizable martial artist ever.

While I really enjoyed the section on philosophy, my favorite chapter had to be the section called “cultural translation”. This part of the book adds context to the timeline of Bruce’s films in socio-political terms. Every thing from the physical movements of his body or his facial expressions is examined in relation to his Chinese roots, to the differences in class that is constantly reflected in the movies, this chapters adds so much depth and gets you to look at his films in a wholly different way.

You can order Beyond Bruce Lee: Chasing the Dragon Through Film, Philosophy, and Popular Culture for around $25 new. While I do not want to make this book sound like some pretentious know-it-all item, I believe this book is the martial arts equivalent of Joseph Campbell writing about mythology. We can enjoy Bruce’s movies at a surface level, but when we really dissect them, we can appreciate them in so many new ways, and see how influential they were on a global level. I highly recommend picking this book up if you are a serious fan of Bruce Lee and are not looking for a biography, but rather an intricate examination of what was behind Bruce’s vision and driving force to create and inspire.

February 25, 2013

“The Treasures of Bruce Lee” Book Review

Filed under: Product Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 10:00 AM

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2013 marks the fortieth anniversary of two monumental moments in martial arts history; they mark the 40th anniversary of the release of “Enter the Dragon”, as well as the passing of the iconic Bruce Lee. There will be plenty of new books and documentaries this year related to the legend, and one of them that just got released was “The Treasures of Bruce Lee”. Written by Dr. Paul Bowman, who gave me one of my all-time favorite interviews for the website about his work on the “I Am Bruce Lee” documentary and his book “Theorizing Bruce Lee”, with a forward by Bruce’s daughter, Shannon, this book tells the story of Bruce from his childhood, all the way through his last days. With so much Bruce Lee stuff already on the market, does this one separate itself from the herd? Absolutely.

Dr. Bowman weaves a complete tale of Bruce Lee, covering his time growing up in Hong Kong, coming to America and opening up his first school, meeting his eventual wife Linda, and making movies and shaping the martial arts film genre. Concise and detailed, the book itself is under 100 pages long, but within those pages are photos from Bruce’s personal life that have never been revealed, and will most likely never be seen in another book again. It is safe to say that the majority of the book is photographs, but that does not stop it from being a very detailed account of Bruce’s life.

What really makes this product stand apart from the others on the market is all of the bonus material that transforms this from just a book into your own personal museum. “The Treasures of Bruce Lee” comes with multiple inserts that include five huge posters from his movies, and fifteen removable pieces of never-before-seen documents from Bruce Lee and his family, such as replicas of hand-written letters, lobby cards, stickers, and other odds and ends. Two of my favorite pieces was a replica of one of Bruce’s notepads, complete with several pages of notes, and a Jun Fan Gung Fu attendance card that was made only for the students of Bruce’s original school. The attention to detail is insane, as these are not just one sided pieces of paper on a glossy photo stock, but are highly detailed two-sided and occasionally multiple-page memorabilia that you will not be able to get anywhere else.

The research done to make this book possible was undoubtedly meticulous, but the payoff is tremendous for people like me who are infatuated with Bruce Lee. There is no other book that would give you the story of Bruce, along with all of these unseen items from him. Calling it “The Treasures of Bruce Lee” is extremely appropriate, as opening this book is like unlocking a box in Bruce’s house and revealing a more human side to the man as opposed to the often fantasized image that many fans have. This scrapbook of Lee’s life is a piece of art that everyone can enjoy.

You can order “The Treasures of Bruce Lee” from Amazon.com for a little more than $26, which is a shockingly amazing price for such a great book. Even a serious Bruce Lee fan will doubt their own fandom until they get this book and glance at the removable inserts. I am considering buying a second book so I can have another one to put the posters up on my wall. Beyond those great documents that are exclusive to the book, Dr. Bowman’s passion for Lee unravels the story of Bruce Lee with new facts and stories, making it one of the best books on the subject. At first glance, it might look like a mere coffee table book, but it goes far beyond that and is the Bruce Lee experience that fans have desired for four decades.

February 15, 2013

“Round 5″ Owner Damon Lau talks new UFC & Bruce Lee action figures at NY Toy Fair 2013

Filed under: Interviews,Lead Story,Videos — Tags: , , , , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 10:00 AM

“Round 5″ president Damon Lau spoke with The Fight Nerd at New York Toy Fair 2013 about the latest toys coming out in 2013, including new Bruce Lee collectibles and a ton of new UFC toys! Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take footage of the UFC figures because they are still pending approval, but I can say they are the best looking figures from Round 5 to date. I also asked Damon about doing a Ronda Rousey figure or other WMMA-related toys, and his answer was essentially “we will wait and see”. It’s not a no, but it’s not a yes, so it’s up to you MMA fans to make your voices heard if you want a Ronda figure!

August 10, 2012

Round 5 unveils full checklist for new Bruce Lee blind-box toys

Filed under: Nerd Stuff — Tags: , , — The Fight Nerd @ 10:00 AM

Round 5, the makers of fine MMA collectible action figures in their distinctive style, are gearing up to release their first wave of Bruce Lee mini-figures.

Pictured to the left, you can get your first glimpse of who is in the full line of their “Temple of Kung Fu” series, which includes a cornucopia of Bruces in various outfits, including his clothing from “Game of Death”, “Enter the Dragon”, “Fist of Fury”, and “The Green Hornet”. The line also has mini-figures of Han and Bolo from “Enter the Dragon”, a very hairy Chuck Norris from “Way of the Dragon”, and Kareem Abdul-Jabar as seen in “Game of Death”, plus a few fictional archetype characters from Kung Fu flicks.

The figures will be out conveniently before Christmas this year, and are blind-boxed, meaning you do not know what figure you get until you open it. Personally, I am a fan of this type of toy, but others may not be since it is the ultimate guessing game.

Hit the jump to check out the poster at it’s full size, as well as to see just how rare your chances of getting that Chuck Norris figure are!
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April 4, 2012

“Roots of Fight” looks at Bruce Lee’s influence on modern MMA

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 5:00 PM

Roots of Fight revisits Bruce Lee’s impact on the evolution of mixed martial arts with a new mini documentary featuring rare footage of Lee and a capsule collection of apparel. This mini-doc features commentary from some of MMA’s finest, including Paul Lazenby, Eddie Bravo, and Ralek Gracie.

The film examines the evolution of Lee’s style from Wing Chun, to his opening of the first Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, to his ultimate realization that the best fighter, the most complete fighter has no style at all.

“I do not teach karate because I do not believe in style,” said Lee. “When you don’t have style, you can say, here I am as a human being, how can I express myself totally and completely.”

Lee went on to develop Jeet Kune Do (the way of the intercepting fist), a form of Gung Fu that he believed to be a philosophy rather than a style.

“The attitude that you build your own style using whatever works for you,” said Paul Lazenby. “That very thought is the cornerstone of modern mixed martial arts.”

Roots of Fight releases this mini documentary of Bruce Lee describing the essence of mixed martial arts along with a Bruce Lee inspired line of apparel as a tribute to his first Jun Fan Gung Fu institute that opened in Seattle, Washington in 1961.

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