Tue 15th July, 2003 Here you will find A Special Question & Answer Session with guests, Bruce Lee Historian George Tan (GT) & Author Davis Miller (DM). Both have worked on the new Video Asia Dvd's to be released on 22nd July, 2003 as a 30th Anniversary Special Tribute to Bruce Lee!
All Photos are kindly provided by George Tan ("Since Fist of Unicorn as a movie can't stand on it's own, I put together a photo gallery with captions called `Bruce Lee 1972', which looks at the incredible, best year of Bruce Lee's professional career. The following are a small sampling of the 50+ shots included on the DVD.")
1/ I read the dvd for 'Death by Misadventure' has audio commentary by Dr Langford.is it the same as on the video?
George Tan (GT) - Hi Bernard. The audio is quite different. First I talk with Davis Miller about the documentary and it's origins, among a lot of other things, including 'Curse of the Dragon', which Davis wrote (I was interviewed and supplied most photos). Then the audio goes to a phone conversation Davis had with Dr. Langford.
It's full of great info. Davis can tell you more when he comes on.
2/ Hi Mr. Tan, Is it true that Bruce Lee took steroids?
GT - Hi Burton, Tom Bleecker has asserted that Lee took steroids - and he has documented proof.
The short answer is yes, he did, but not the way you might think. Lee wasn't `juicing up' like a bodybuilder. The steroids were used to help his injured back, and prescribed by a doctor. So there's no sensational scoop!
Steroids do not strengthen the tendons and ligaments, and this is where Lee excelled. He wasn't interested in bulky muscles. Function over size! Mystery solved!!
3/ I saw Thug Immortal and Tek and Steel was reading a Bruce Lee book. Who else did Bruce Lee touch in Hip Hop?
GT - Hi JZ, The list is endless! Tek and Steel did that interview in my house.They went by my bookshelf and picked up these books without being pushed to do so. The whole Wu Tang Clan loves Bruce Lee and understands him and his accomplishments. Tupac read the Tao of JKD. Fat Joe was recited most of the lines from Enter the Dragon on a film set while we were shooting. His influence is deep and true within Hip Hop.
4/ I guess that many Bruce Lee fans know that Unicorn was instrumental in Bruce Lee's return to HK from the US in 1970. And that he hooked up Lee and Run Run Shaw. But when did Lee and Unicorn meet? What's the history? And still more seriously, is it true that Unicorn is the asexual love child of Lou Costello and Jerry Lewis?
GT - Hi Davis, They met when they were kids. Unicorn was a few years older. Both their dads were in the film business. Unicorn lived in Hong Kong, Lee in Kowloon (across the water). They would meet on film sets quite a bit. I met Unicorn in 1984 thru Dan's student John Ladalski. He was a very nice man, always willing to go and talk about Bruce Lee. Unicorn said that Lee sent him some articles and materials to present to various film companies. He was working at Shaws at the time, so naturally he went there first. Most people know the story that ensued! Hard to believe that one meeting permanently changed the power structure of the Hong Kong film industry - permanently!
5/ G, when you spent time with Unicorn, what did you him to be like? If he told you anything particularly surprising about either Bruce Lee or his friendship with Lee, what was it?
GT - Hi Davis, Unicorn was a very gentle, friendly man. Always smiling. The first thing he did was `read my face'. The Chinese look at your ears,etc. and tell you your fortune. He said things looked good for me! Then he showed me some of Bruce Lee's `tricks', like how he would beat people at `forearm wrestling'. That's where you hold hands and try to turn the opponents wrist in order to win.Unicorn was quite good at it! The most surprising thing(s) he told me where the following -
- the ending of Game of Death
- the plot for the costume film Shaws wanted him to make
- how Bruce Lee would sometimes stay home for as long as two weeks without going out and socializing. He would let his beard grow, and wouldn't even shower sometimes. Lee was recharging his batteries. Many others have told me this subsequently, but Unicorn was the first.
6/ Do you know the name of the character Bruce played in "Golden Gate"?
GT - Hi Jan, This is considered to be a `lost film' by the Hong Kong Film Archive. Only one photo exists (showing a baby Bruce Lee). Any information would be speculative at best. Good question, but at this point in time, we cannot know. Hopefully a print will turn up!
7/ How did Unicorn got the lead role in 'Fist of Unicorn'?
GT - Hi Nick, As for the lead, Starsea Film Co. approached Unicorn in order to get to Lee.
Lee agreed to help him.
8/ And how did he get the nickname Unicorn? Do you know his actual name?
GT - Hi Davis, Unicorn's chinese name is Chan Yim Chun. His nickname is for good luck (unicorn's are considered lucky).
9/ Do you know what Bruce's feelings were on the Vietnam War? I know he failed the physical, but i was wondering if you know about what his actual thoughts were on it?
GT - Hi Dorian, Funny you should ask that!! I was talking to Leo Fong and he mentioned Lee saying something about the war. This was during the late 1960's. Lee said that America was getting an awareness of Asia because of the war, and there would be interest in time for things Asian - including movies. This statement was made before Nixon's historic trip to China,etc.
10/ I was wondering if you could please tell me a bit about your contributions on the new Video Asia dvd's in tribute to Bruce Lee e.g. commentaries etc. ?
DM - I did a number of audio commentaries for the VideoAsia series, including a behind-the-scenes peek at the real Bruce Lee's movies, life, martial art, etcetera that runs the entire length of "Bruce Lee True Story." I feel comfortable saying that basically all of the information that George and I give Lee fans during that commentary will be brand-new to them. Almost none of what we clue people in on has ever been said before; it's not the same old recycled slush they've heard/read other places.
My contribution to Death By Misadventure Dvd - For that one, I supplied a general structure for the documentary, as well as lined up a couple of the interviews. I wrote the narration for the opening scenes in the picture, as well as for the segment about Brandon Lee, for the section about the Bruce Lee imitators/clones/androids, and I wrote the narration for the end of the movie. In addition, the title was mine.
For this particular DVD release, I supplied an audio recording of the last of my numerous interviews with Dr. Donald Langford, who was the Bruce Lee family's personal physician in Hong Kong. That interview was used to fact check and refine what I had already written about Lee's death for my book, THE TAO OF BRUCE LEE.
11/ George how many minutes of Bruce is there on Fist of Unicorn? I hear you have the rights to the film?
GT - Hi Suresh, My rights expired and Videoasia picked up the film.
They contacted me to put it together for DVD. The actual film has a a minute or so. The original trailer has some snippets I hadn't seen before. It's included in the DVD. The DVD has 2 versions of the film - English and Chinese. They are quite different from each other. The big chunk was a documentary Starsea Film Co. did after Bruce Lee died called `Last Day of Bruce Lee', which is hosted by Betty Ting Pei! That has about 10-15 minutes of footage from the press conference for the production of Fist of Unicorn, and funeral footage.
I included a lot of extra materials since the movie is so lousy. No hope for it!!
12/ I now have my own site on Bruce's childhood. Could clarify something for me?
It was said that Bruce would often tell other students that the sifu was away so that he could train alone with his sifu. Was this Yip man or Wong Shun Leung?
GT - Hi Jan, Bruce Lee never learned formally from Yip Man, but from the instructors in the kwoon.
Men like William Cheung Chik Hing, Wong Shum Leung, Victor Kan, Wang Kiu, Lok Yiu, Tsui Sung Ting and others had a hand in his growth. Wong was the main source for Lee's Wing Chun training. His movements, especially his Siu Nim Tao, are identical to Wong's.
DM - Jan, this was with Wong. He speaks about this in "Death by Misadventure." It's worth noting, in addition, that Bruce Lee never studied directly with Yip Man, though few fans seem to know that.
13/ Does this film, The Orphan still exist and will it ever be released?
GT - Dear Suresh, Brother, when you talk about Lee, you are never off topic!! The Orphan still exists, but the producer's wife (he passed away) is a pain to deal with. Working on it....
14/ How much more is there with Dr Langford on audio compared to original DBM release? There seems to be so much great extras on these new dvd's. The stunt men on Bruce's fight scenes as part of Fist of Unicorn extras sounds very interesting to me?
Davis Miller (DM) - There's a lot of new Langford footage and commentary, Nick. My phone interview alone is about 45 minutes. A number of surprises, too. Langford's a terrific interview. In addition to my phone interview with Bruce lee's personal physician, Dr. Donald Langford, I contributed to three more audio commentaries for this four-DVD series. Martial art great Joe Lewis, screenwriter (sort of) Joe Hyams, George Tan, and I talk about the differences between the myths/legends about Bruce Lee and who Lee actually was as a martial artist; George, screenwriter Ed Khmara ("Dragon: the Linda Lee/Rob Cohen Story"), and I talk extensively about trying to get something of Bruce Lee's life on to film (in addition to my role in writing "Death by Misadventure," I was the sole writer for the Warner Brothers/Fred Weintraub production, "Curse of the Dragon"), and George and I discuss my book, TAO OF BRUCE LEE (Vintage/Random House), which is something of a classic in the United Kingdom and the only Bruce Lee book ever published in prestigious hardcover by a major New York publishing house. TAO OF BRUCE LEE excerpt included in every copy of every VideoAsia DVD. Or at least all of the four DVDs in this new Bruce Lee collection. Many rare, never-before-published outdoor "Game of Death" photos are included with the TAO OF BRUCE LEE extract. And for those viewers who are intrigued by the TAO OF LEE excerpt, Amazon.com has the book on sale for $10.40 'Nuff said.
GT - Hi Everybody, My favorite audio commentary was actually for Bruce Lee-True Story. Even Bruce Li hates this film(!!) but it is a great springboard to talk about what Lee really did, using the crappy scenes as a springboard to make corrections! It was a pleasure doing that! There's actually two audio commentaries - one with Davis and myself which deals with the film itself, and another with Davis, Ed Khmara, Joe Lewis and Joe Hyams talking about all kinds of Lee topics - the `Dragon' movie, Lee the teacher, philosopher, friend, you name it!
15/ A/ How long did Bruce spend on the production and how much footage of Bruce exists or what you have witnessed?
B/ Did Bruce take legal action against the film makers for using his behind-the-scenes footage in the release but that ended as a result of his death?
GT - Hi Nick, He spent two days total on the set - one in the studio, one on location (during the end fight scene). The producer told me over twenty years ago (!!) that he had 25 minutes - a reel of film-of footage that hasn't been seen of Lee in the studio, at the press conference, etc. He wanted a million dollars for it. Even Raymond Chow had to pay a million if he wanted it. Just last year I had the same conversation. But now he's releasing the film as a partner with Videoasia, so the profits go right into his pockets. Let's see this fim! Personally, I think the bloke lost it after all these years. Or it could have been bull from the start. Everything that is known to exist is on the DVD.
B/ Lee didn't take legal action. Golden Harvest tried to do something, but it was nothing. The film made no real money. Lee KNEW he was being suckered, but he was loyal to Unicorn.
16/ A/ Is it true that Bruce phoned him shortly before his passing and did he tell you anything about what was said in their phone conversation?
B/ Hwang In-Shik appears in Unicorn. Was 'Way of the Dragon' his first HK film & Unicorn his second?
GT - A/ He didn't say anything to me about the last phone call with Lee
B/ Hwang was also doing Hapkido at the same time as W.O.D..Which was the first is open to debate. He did other films between W.O.D. and Unicorn (freelance work). Hwang also made masses of films in his native Korea.
17/ Is the film 'Hapkido' any good?
GT - Hi Nick, The fights are almost as good as Lee's fights. Angela Mao is terrific and action director Han Ying Chieh really contributed to Lee's skills. It's very evident if you view Hapkido. There is a Japanese school fight that is just as tight as the Fist of Fury dojo fight.
18/ Is the Young Bruce Lee DVD the same as the same titled film in the U.K.? What are the bonus features?
GT - Hi William, It's the same film. My dear friend Dick Randall made it in the 1970's.
The bonus features are as follows -
1-audio commentary by Jesse Glover, Lee's first student
A- Seattle tour-this was shot by Jesse and shows the various places Lee frequented,etc. in Seattle.
B- Bruce Lee's Ancestral Home-this shows where Lee's father was from and the town has made a museum and made the Lee ancestral home a tourist attraction. Very interesting stuff.
C- Milton Berle Show appearance with Lee as Kato. The quality looks grainy, but it real rare footage.
Check on this site to see what else is on there. Too much for me to remember.
19/ What is your favourite film of Bruce?
GT - Hi Suresh, I'd have to go with Fist of Fury. They all have something special about them, so it's hard to make a true choice.
20/ 'A Man called Tiger' - What ideas did Bruce incorporate in to 'Way of the Dragon' and did Bruce & Lo Wei fall out over script details?
GT - The whole concept of Way and Tiger are almost identical - Chinese goes to a foreign country and helps damsel in distress. In Tiger, Wang Yu goes to Japan and fights the Yakuza, Lee in Italy against `the Mob'.
The REAL reason behind the Lo/Lee `feud' was Raymond Chow. Raymond is the master of `divide and conquer'. Raymond was sleeping with Lo's wife at the time. Imagine what would have happened if Lo found out at that critical point/What if he told Lee to split and form a new company away from Raymond? Raymond was/is a true master. Lee was a novice in that arena.
21/ Do you know where Bruce got the name for Jeet Kune Do?
GT - Hi Bernard, This came from a form called `Jeet Kune'. Lee adds do - chinese for way, or path.
There is a bit of speculation as to when and where he learned this form - Hong Kong or Seattle?
One sifu in Hong Kong claims he taught it to Lee. Jesse Glover says Lee learned it from a gung fu man at the Chinese Baptist Church in Seattle.
22/ I wanted to ask is there more footage of Bruce from 'Fist of Unicorn' that will never be released? I hear there is 9 mins altogether, is this true?
GT - Hi Suresh, There was supposed to be 25 minutes of footage! But I think the producer is full of crap. He's told that story for over 20 years! I've seen only what is on the DVD being released.
23/ A/ Could you please tell me where the outdoor scenes were filmed e.g. fights by the river, and Meng Hoi's shack home?
B/ Did Kitty Meng Chui know Bruce well? Have you ever talked to her or who else from Unicorn have you interviewed e.g. Paul Wei Ping Ao - what was he like? Also noticed that the first scene you see of Ji Han Jae is smoking a ciggy when Unicorn first meeets him!
GT - Hi Nick, Meng Hoi and Kitty are siblings. I'm arranging an interview with them this summer, and will do a Q and A with them right here. So you can get it right from the horse's mouth!
Wei Ping Ao was a very nice man.I met him and he was in the later stages of cancer. But he came out and talked to Ed Khmara and me. Master Ji is a heavy smoker!
24/ Could you please tell me a bit about your Candid Lee book and is there a follow up?
GT - Hi Julian, Candid Lee (get it?) is the first book that will give an overview of the man. Then the next book will be Big Boss,etc. I'm working on arranging for 4-5 people to autograph the books. Honestly, I have to seriously look at who is dying sooner than later. Shek Kin (Mr. Han) comes to mind. It's a bit of a race.
25/ Regarding your books ... I read below you are including several autographs in your new book . . . does this mean it will be a very limited edition? Will you inform us when the book is ready and how to obtain a copy?
GT - Hi Felipe, Correct. The books will be hardbound on acid free paper,etc. There will a numbered certificate with each book and we will have a registry to submit your information. Of course I will let everybody know way in advance.
26/ Hi George, You mentioned earlier that Unicorn told you what the ending to Game of Death was. What was it? Sorry if you answered it elsewhere, I'm trying to catch up on all the posts. Thanks?
GT - Hi Z, The ending was from Silent Flute - the character goes to the top (after disposing of the Korean Gang) and sees a curtain. He parts them and sees a big mirror. That's the treasure. This was told to me by Unicorn, Bob Baker and Peter Chin on seperate occasions.
27/ Did Hon yan gip (The thai boss) die of cancer around 1985 and what was he like as a person ?
What year was TAB re-released in Hong Kong was it 1976 ?
What is your favorite BL poster and have you seen the German WOTD poster with Norris bending an iron pipe or stick ?
My favorite is the H.K. TBB poster , which has fantastic artwork , imo.
GT - Hi M, Hon Yan Chieh died in 1990 or so (maybe 1989). I couldn't meet him as he was bedridden and didn't want visitors. Big Boss was re-released in 1976 and 1981 or 82 with a new audio track. My absolute favorite poster is the French Fist of Fury.
28/ On this picture we can see Bruce�s assistant director. Second my research his name is Chih Yao Chang!
Other source says that Chaplin Chang and Chih Yao Chang are the same person?
My question: who is this person we see on every set?
GT - Hi GB, This is Ricky Chik, who worked on EVERY Bruce Lee movie. His chinese name is Chih Yun Chik (spelling as it's pronounced). He was assistant director and actor (on Big Boss) for ALL of Bruce Lee's movies. Unfortunately he passed away too. Chih Yao Chang is not Chaplin's chinese name. Why not come over this tribute weekend and ask Chaplin yourself! He will be here!
29/ I was wondering if Unicorn had any marial arts training, or did he also attend the Peking Opera school, like Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan etc?
GT - Hi D, Unicorn was an Opera guy who was the senior to Jackie, Samo, Yuen Biao,etc. In fact, he got jobs for many of them when they first started out in the film biz. Unicorn was definitely not a fighter.
I would like everyone who participated in this very interesting Question & Answer session with Bruce Lee Historian George Tan and Author Davis Miller. To both, I am extremely grateful for making this special event happen. You are both great guys and I personally look forward to the fantastic new Dvd's and your future projects on Bruce Lee!
Compiled by Nick Clarke & copyright July 2003