“Enter the Dragon” (1973) motion picture, directed by Robert Clouse and “Police Story” (1985) movie, directed by its leading actor Jackie Chan, undoubtedly positioned themselves within the genres of the spy thrillers, which combine motivation for the actions and fight for justice, and pairings of the good-with-bad characters (Lott, 2004). Lee’s mission in the movie is to disclose the drug dealer’s laboratory and fulfill his vendetta, while Chan’s – is to protect a prosecutor’s witness form a crime boss and save himself from getting into the jail. Portrayal of the major problems of society such as drug smuggling, class struggle in the main mainstream and undisclosed xenophobia made perception of the martial arts concept more deracinated and commoditized (Green & Svinth, 2011). The abovementioned phenomena represent more desired acceptance and eradication of the Asian ethnic and cultural characteristics for the outsiders’ consumption. For that purpose, Bruce Lee literally portrays Asian secret agent and Jackie Chan plays a nonconformist police detective (Lott, 2004). Moreover, particular elements of the martial arts aspects are changed to fit the interests of the middle-class America, making the places, roles and functions of the martial arts to shape new hybrid forms (Fu & Desser, 2002).
Therefore, Mr. Lee’s position is cemented as a rebel in the eyes of public, while officer Chan’s position represented with a moral locus fighter for his autonomy recognition (Zhang, 2008). Other differences rely on the settings and content of the fight scenes, bringing counteraction between the street fight and mixed martial arts styles, and deterioration of the society values, which are built on mistrust and application of violence.
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Jeet Kune Do and Kickboxing Confrontation
Bruce Lee is known for invention of the mixed martial arts’ techniques, which are based on the combination of the punches, kicks with throwing and grapping (Sherif, 2009). In the “Enter the Dragon” movie he represented the basis of his Jeet Kune Do technique in preserved leisurely manner with the controlled flow of the body’s force (Green & Svinth, 2011). Moreover, Mr. Lee’s skeptical manner, based on his urge towards revenging his sister’s murder, is embodied by sole application of the abovementioned force for the need of undermining the drug lord (Lott, 2004). As a real martial arts master, Mr. Lee works outside the system and is determined to fulfill his mission, becoming a renegade, who can only rely on himself (Lott, 2004). The concept of fighting is represented as a religion and spiritual release, when any descent fighter can prove his-worthiness. Lee symbolizes small and powerful animal or insect, whose extremely quick and powerful reaction can counteract deadly threat (Lott, 2004). He demonstrates the edges of the human agility and strength by unbelievable speed and flexibility, and exceptional fighting competency. Jeet Kune Do is represented as being and defense of the offense, when the fighter should be constantly prepared to be challenged and should strike the opponent with all the strength coming from his hips into his fists (Sherif, 2009)
On the other hand, Jackie Chan, although delivers perfect punches and kicks, does not follow a recognizable martial arts style in the “Police Story” (Hunt, 2003). His officer Chan becomes a hero on the right side of the law, while trying to establish the moral order (Zhang, 2008). Although, he exercises precession, delivers agility in using of his kinetic power and achieves perfect execution of the hyperbolic stunts, Chan’s enhanced street fight style does not determine role and behavior in the movie’s plot (Hunt, 2003). Furthermore, it should be mentioned that, hyperbolic stunts are emphasized by undeniable nature of the physical skills, when there is a centrality of the masculine body in the popular culture and myth about the Asian nationality that can be debunked (Bordwell, 2006). For that purpose, Mr. Lee artistically displays his ability to stretch full-blown lat spread and officer Chan shows off to demonstrate his ability to handle blows. Moreover, in the movie Jackie Chan practices Westernized kickboxing style, where strikes with elbows and knees are prohibited, and the punches should be directed above the belt (Sherif, 2009). Therefore, Chan’s choreography for the unarmed sequences of the fights are made of the set pieces, stylized and designed for the entertainment value with a respect to kung fu tradition (Hunt, 2003).
Furthermore, while Lee’s character is positioned as a self-assured man, officer Chan mostly experiences comic and humiliating incidents (Green & Svinth, 2011; Lott, 2004). While Mr. Lee uses no additional weapon to defeat his opponent, officer Chan fights only when he is not using gun (Hunt, 2003). Nevertheless, Chan still performs unbelievable quick and agile stunts with the techniques of the swift hands and feet. Regardless the fact that, “Police Story” is considered as a kung fu thriller, there are few moves of the kung fu hand techniques, while the main focus is based on the kickboxing performance (Green & Svinth, 2011). However, even Chan’s character manages to unite the body with the motion of integrated physics and geometry, in order to enable unlimited fighting force during his fights (Sherif, 2009).
Furthermore, both of the movies represent maintenance of the strict code of honor and mission’s accomplishment, regardless the reservations that the main characters face (Fu & Desser, 2002).
The Martial Arts’ Function in the Context of the Troubled Society
Popularity of the “Enter the Dragon” motion picture is undoubtedly accounts for the story’s simplicity. The drug dealer Han sponsors semi-annual martial arts tournament, where the best fighters of the world can participate, regardless their background and racial identity (Fu & Desser, 2002). Mr. Lee is motivated to gain entry to the fortes, where tournament is held, due to his feelings of vendetta and desire to stop the dreadful menace to the public (Green & Svinth, 2011). The movie portrays cruel scenes, which can be clearly appealed for the cynical and fearful public (Lott, 2004). However, the last scene is played upon the two prevailing attitudes of these times, concerning the society problems (Fu & Desser, 2002). There existed a growing distrust in the authority of the law machinery and fear, associated with this discredit, that the crime was striking the said law forces and was hanging over the unaware public (Lott, 2004). Furthermore, Bruce Lee portrayed outside hero, whose detached cool manner helped to break up the drug smuggler with bare hands and assisted in the elimination of the menace to the society.
In the “Police Story” officer Chan strives to clear his reputation, after the drug lords, whom he had disclosed, stood him up with the murder of his fellow policeman that had illegal business with these outlaws (Bordwell, 2006). Therefore, the movie’s scrip settings are based on the violent or comic set pieces, while ignoring the change of the character’s affirmation and motivation to develop and move further (Bordwell, 2006). Chan’s character is portrayed as an unlikely hero, whose persona relies on the body in action, when he chases the drug dealers and then runs away from them, while still trying to protect the witnesses’ life, but threatening his own (Zhang, 2008). Being a hero on the right side of the law, officer Chan struggles to regain the lost trust of the police forces, whose anarchic drives are untied by urbanization and official desire to maintain the social order (Zhang, 2008).
Therefore, these movies made Mr. Lee to be associated with the traditional martial arts and Chinese Diaspora, while Officer Chan represents and functions in a network of urban transnationalism (Hunt, 2003).
Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan’s Breaking Away from the Asian Men Stereotypes
The Asian men stereotypes in the American mainstream are portrayed as inhuman killers that build their self-discipline, in order to commit fanatical destruction of the Western Civilization through obtained world domination (Bordwell, 2006). In the traditional kung fu cinema, the national pride and strong China’s affirmation under pressing colonial conditions is often affected through the demonstration of the male kung fu body, which represents strength of the empowered fighting and capability of the self-defensive skills (Bordwell, 2006). Although it is fare to say that, Lee and Chan’s characters challenge some aspects of these stereotypes, but they do it in a different manner.
Lee’s films are more political and portray violence, in order to fight colonialism by asserting Chinese power and pride (Hunt, 2003). The Warner Brothers producers provided Mr. Lee with a new identity of self-assured, neutral to lustful satisfactions skeptical hero, in order to get attention of the broader audience (Lott, 2004). For that purpose, the producers excluded such elements of the society’s struggles, related to the imperialism issues, which were in the interests of the native Chinese viewers (Fu & Desser, 2002). However, the movie’s production maintained self-discipline regulations and honorable self-affirmation that are peculiar for the Chinese nation (Lott, 2004). Regardless the production company attempts to reorganize the nationhood orientation on the screen on the western audience perception; Bruce Lee managed to make kung fu content of the movie relevant to contemporary times by bringing the sense of modernity in the “Enter the Dragon” (Bordwell, 2006). What’s more, Lee succeeded to achieve this even by focusing on the importance of patriotism and discursive narration of the Chinese greatness.
Officer Chan’s character is portrayed as a reluctant middle-class hero, who alike Lee’s character has particular interest in the other gender (Bordwell, 2006). Chan has chosen to dissolve the stereotypical notion of wu, which is represented by the basis of the artful ruler-ship that Bruce Lee so meliticulously maintained, by mocking it with his slapstick acrobatics (Hunt, 2003). Chan did it because Hong Kong people knew they were powerless to change irreversible reality of the colony’s re-integration into China and needed a hero to just cheer them up (Hunt, 2003). Chan’s slapstick manner helped him to bring the characters that were ordinary to the screen, instead of portraying patriots and men of persistent value (Zhang, 2008). Therefore, it is fare to state, that officer Chan in the “Police Story” motion picture symbolizes other than Mr. Lee’s image of the hero, who underwent a change, which signifies an important departure of the past (Lott, 2004).
In addition, with the work of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan the western audience’s attention and perception were greatly influenced by a newer aspect of interplay between the globalized and localized notions of the martial arts films (Green & Svinth, 2011). Moreover, these outstanding martial artists and tremendous action film actors had broken the western tendency to draw on the codes and strategies of the martial arts films and responded to the newer challenges of the kung fu filming (Bordwell, 2006). Bruce Lee introduced kung fu as a form of the martial arts, which did not only undertook successful completion of the intimidated tasks in the filming, but helped to create a link between the philosophies of the Chinese and Western culture. On the other hand, Jackie Chan combined the martial arts techniques with a desire to make use of the available technical resources, in order to enhance visual effects of the new forms of the fighting scenes.