After the success of his first two films, Bruce Lee flirted with many ideas for his next project, including a period film piece. Lee was always interested in sword fighting films from Hong Kong and Japan, and spent many a time watching them when he lived in the U.S. So with great secrecy, Golden Harvest Films had a closed set to photograph Lee in various costumes and roles for a project that was never to be
Lee was questioned about his choice of film, being that his films had practically knocked the costume epics out of circulation, in favor of more modern style fighting.
In this rare interview, Bruce Lee discusses his choice.
Q - Would you find it interesting if Golden Harvest starts a period action film?
Bruce - Actors should not be typecast. Modern or period films both have advantages so this is not an important issue. If one can act into the character it will be succesful, whether is it in period or modern costume.
Q - Which do you think is easier to get into and control the feelings, period or modern ones?
Bruce - Acting in period films is repeatedly placing emotion on the edge of reality and imagination. It is real and surreal. With it, the audience will feel close to the character, even replacing him/herself into it with resonate effect.
Q - But at present, the audience is kind of tired of the period action films.
Bruce - You are right. But why? It's only because the period action film makers have run out of topics, run out of new attractions, right?
Q - The people are interested in your acting in period acton films and since you know the reason of it's not drawing an audience, do you have the confidence to revive it?
Bruce - I wouldn't dare say so. I only said that if there is a new style, contents and good script, it can become a good movie and attract the audience.
Q - If you act in a period action film, wouldn't it be a waste of `Jeet Kune Do'?
Bruce - Why?
Q - Because all the people appreciate your kung fu but shooting period action films there must be swords, spears, lances and the like. Then your ‘Jeet Kune Do' has no use.
Bruce - It's not like that. You see, swords, sticks, spears, they are just the extension of the fists and feet. People like fist fighting because the feeling is real, the fist reaches the flesh. If the weapons are used well, wouldn't they give a realistic sense? Wouldn't they be as exciting?
Alright, you've asked too many questions, now let me ask you one. You've seen me using the ‘nunchaku' in Fist of Fury, haven't you? O.K., I hope very much for you to tell me your opinion.
Q - You're asking for my opinion? O.K., my feeling is that the way you play, throwing out, drawing in, etc. are all full of power. It's extraordinary.
Bruce - So I think in the period action films, the important issue is how best you utilize them.
Q - How to well utilize them?
Bruce - We can look at martial art as a tree. To have plentiful foliage depends on the strong root. To be good in ancient weapons depends on how well the basic kung fu is. Basic kung fu is like the root and the fighting styles are like the foliage. When the root is deep, firm and sturdy, then the movement can be accurate, swift and forceful.
NOTE: Bruce Lee never had a chance to further pursue this type of film, and it is unlikely he would have ever done a film of this sort after the international success of Enter the Dragon. But his confidence in his skills shows that he could have made any fighting project a hit.