Be Water (2020)

Be Water (2020)

A sports documentary about the iconic martial artist, that feels more like a guide to living

7.6

Movie

United Kingdom, United States of America
Cantonese, English
Documentary, Drama
2020
BAO NGUYEN
Angela Mao Ying, Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee
105 min

What it's about

In 1971, after being rejected by Hollywood, Bruce Lee returned to his parents’ homeland of Hong Kong to complete four iconic films. Charting his struggles between two worlds, this portrait explores questions of identity and representation through the use of rare archival footage, interviews with loved ones and Bruce’s own writings.

The take

As the face of kung fu, a sports documentary on Bruce Lee is practically expected for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. So many of them have been produced since the actor’s death in 1973. However, in Be Water, director Bao Nguyen captures the icon not through his works, but through his philosophy. Starting with his first screen test, the camera rarely strays from him, keeping us hooked on his magnetic presence even during voice-overs of interviews from his friends and family. This, mixed with readings of letters he’s written, reveals a man whose self-discipline and attitude power through obstacles against him. The film only diverts its attention to identifying those obstacles, but it only better proves the actor’s strength. In martial arts and in film, Be Water respects Lee as a force of nature– the rare force that broke barriers and bridged the gap between East and West.

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