Friday, February 22, 2013

I Miss You, Brandon Lee

DJ mentioned it in my last MRQ, when I covered Showdown in Little Tokyo - Brandon Lee had a great career ahead of him. The man only made 5 films: Legacy of Rage, Laser Mission, Showdown, Rapid Fire, and The Crow (which I lovingly reviewed). His first several roles, as with most action star-actors, were in B- and C-grade material wherein he had a chance to come off well in what would probably be an unsatisfying picture.

But to give you a sense of this guy's natural charisma and potential for stardom, I can show you a great interview with Jay Leno in 1992. It's promoting Rapid Fire, his first "major" US release. Go to the 4 minute mark to hear Brandon tell a great story about a break-in at his LA home:

You can laugh along with him at the anecdote, or you can watch right through to the end and hear how loudly the crowd cheered for him. Sure, they're a studio audience in LA, but this man had charisma to spare, as well as a great public appeal...

And, since I want to add to the nostalgia factor, I let's look at the interview below, as well. George Takei's sonorous voice chimes in, so we already start with an aura of hyper-charm. But it follows up with this engaging young man who talks about the loss of his wonderfully inspiring father. While many people casually BS their way through interviews, Brandon's words feel like they have real weight:

Nice, right? That was for a documentary about his old man. I've always felt sad thinking about how he grew up without his father, and wondered at how odd it must for a departed parent to be such a popular figure. Sure, I haven't seen many references to him over the last 5 years or so, but Brandon's father is still alive today.

I'm not being figurative, either, as an AV Club news article from this week informed me about a new Bruce Lee picture that's in the works. The premise sounds stupid and crazy, yes, but it's still a sign that people remain interested in Bruce and his story.

But I haven't given you a sense of whether Brandon could really act, have I? I've mentioned his charisma, how he expresses himself... Well, I have few examples to work from - and not just because Youtube doesn't have many clips of him.

The guy did have chops, though - and it's an added shame that he died before other people got to see just how well he could do it. For an action hero, especially one in the "revenge" category that can be so rote for some actors, his work in The Crow was fine; it's impossible to not be impressed:

And, because I guess I haven't twisted the knife enough, I will add one last video. It's an interview that Brandon Lee did while filming The Crow. Outside of the on-set accident that took his life, this is supposed to be one of the last recordings of Mr. Lee.

As with so many on-set interviews, he talks about the movie via a lot of basic description of what happens. However, unlike so many press junkets, you get the sense that Brandon is really speaking about his role with a bit more depth than is customary. It's a great clip, and I'm happy to share it with you now:

If you didn't know much about him before, I hope you've learned a bit today and have an interesting in seeing some of his work. There isn't really much more for me to add: Brandon Lee was a fine actor, a skilled martial artist, and while his loss is clearly more tragic for his loved ones than for audiences, everyone really lost out with his passing so young. I know plenty of people miss this guy, and I count myself among their number...

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