It was only a few months ago I reviewed Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks here at borg, a film chronicling the challenges and rise of Chinese action movies, including a segment on the legendary martial artist and actor, Bruce Lee.  At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, one of the Grand Jury Prize nominees was a documentary exclusively devoted to Lee, a film called Be Water, titled from the personal philosophy he shared with the world, “be formless, shapeless, like water… be water, my friend.”  A documentary that has received much advance praise and film festival kudos, director Bao Nguyen’s film will premiere to general audiences this Sunday as part of EPSN’s 30 for 30 series.

ESPN’s 30 for 30, known for its memorable documentaries created by filmmakers in and outside sports, is not a surprise take-off point for a film about Bruce Lee.  It was Lee’s philosophy of life and martial arts prowess that brought him to America and international stardom, but only in four feature-length films before his untimely death due to a brain edema in 1973 at the age of 32.

The subject of the film is timely.  As with past documentaries about Lee, Nguyen places the legend’s story in the context of a life and struggle to make his way into the American studio films in light of decades of racism against Asians in the West.  Nguyen takes viewers back to the internment camps of the Japanese Americans in World War II, through a Hollywood system openly mocking Asian culture well into the 1970s.  It was this system that Lee was about to conquer before he was taken away from us.

Check out this trailer for the 30 for 30 presentation of Be Water:

Watch the Bruce Lee life story in director Bao Nguyen’s documentary Be Water as part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, premiering at 8 p.m. Central tomorrow, Sunday, June 7, 2020, only on ESPN.

C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg