Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Lee Holmes of Clones of Bruce Lee is Stupid

A reply to the baseless accusations of Lee Holmes of Clones of Bruce Lee.

I’ve no wish to draw others into your attempt to create a spat, so I will not bother to cover all the issues raised by your brickbat on pages I do not run regardless of how obsessively you repost your rant on social media. Here no one else need be involved, unless they chose to involve themselves. So let’s go through your preposterous claims. You write:

“I must say I am pretty annoyed at the reference to me in the book. The author seems to be obsessed with trying to put down other writers who have delved into this genre in some sort of attempt to make himself out as the more superior researcher.”

Here’s most of what I have to say about you: “Within Brucesploitation and the related Chansploitation phenomena, actors who copy and clone Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan make up one strand of these subgenres, but their importance can and has been over-stated. This is evident not just from the title of the book Here Come The Kung Fu Clones by Carl Jones, but also the UK fan site Clones of Bruce Lee run by Lee Holmes. Both Jones and Holmes treat Bruce Liang as a clone. My own view is that when Liang appears as Bruce Lee in The Dragon Lives Again (1977) he is there as an actor playing the Little Dragon in the underworld after death rather than a clone; this is emphasised by dialogue in the English dub addressing head on the fact that Liang doesn’t look like Bruce Lee…. Movies such as The Black Dragon’s Revenge (1975), with a narrative that revolves around a fictional investigation into the death of Bruce Lee, belong to the Brucesploitation genre without even featuring a clone so copyists are not essential to this film category. Lee Holmes on his Clones website at one time listed Black Dragon’s Revenge supporting actor Charles Bonet as a Bruce Lee clone, but given this martial artist’s karate leanings and rejection of kung fu, this is not a claim I take at all seriously. I would further argue that those who see figures like Bonet as clones do so because they approach Brucesploitation in thrall to the misleading idea that copyists define it. Tadashi Yamashita, sometimes called Bronson Lee after a character he played, is another example of a karateka I do not accept as a Bruce Lee clone; despite Jones and Holmes – among others – mistakenly asserting he is one.”

Seeing this any intelligent reader will immediately realise that your claim that I want to pose as “the more superior researcher” is based on a basic category error.  The passage above is focused more on interpretation than research and I certainly wouldn’t damn myself with feint praise by claiming to be a superior theorist to you because you are not a theorist at all. Likewise your clumsy attempt at commentary on something you failed to fully understand might be cited as evidence that I am a superior writer to you; sadly your prose as quoted in the present paragraph is so clunky that this hardly requires pointing out. While I may be putting you down now for a ridiculously over-sensitive and stupid response to Re-Enter The Dragon, this was not what I was doing in the book when I laid out the differences between my positions on Brucesploitation as a genre and dominant discourse on it to date, of which your website simply provides an example. If you don’t want your views of Brucesploitation to be met with anything other than agreement then you’d be best advised not to air them in public, or indeed private.

You write: “…who doesn't think that Fist of Unicorn should be categorised as Bruceploitation? This not some big revelation.”

Newsflash for Lee Holmes, billions of people in the world have never heard of Fist of Unicorn or Brucesploitation, and it is therefore extremely unlikely they think a film of which they are unaware should be categorised as part of a genre they aren’t familiar with. However if you look at what I say in regard to this in context then it is also obvious that I’m not claiming this as some ‘big revelation’ but rather deploying it as part of a broader argument: “I have seen it falsely asserted in a number of places – including Wikipedia – that Brucesploitation movies attempted to exploit interest in Bruce Lee after his death. Fist of Unicorn (1973) can and should be treated as part of the genre, and it was made and released before Lee died on 20 July 1973…” In case you want to check the Wikipedia entry, although it appears you don’t bother to fact check anything very much (see below), there is an archived version of the page here: https://web.archive.org/web/20181102091239/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruceploitation

Incidentally if you think Fist of Unicorn is Brucesploitation then you implicitly support my argument that the genre predates the Little Dragon’s death, and Wikipedia - among others – was wrong to claim it is made up of movies shot after 20 July 1973. Note that this Wikipedia entry opens with various errors I am attempting to correct in Re-Enter The Dragon: “Bruceploitation (a portmanteau of Bruce Lee and exploitation) refers to the practice on the part of filmmakers in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan of hiring Bruce Lee look-alike actors ("Lee-alikes") to star in many imitation martial arts films in order to cash in on Lee's success after his death.” Alongside the dating error in this opening sentence, there are the misleading assertions that Brucesploitation is characterised by look-alike actors (or clones to use the term found in the title of your website) and about the geographical areas that produced such films (which, of course, also include The Philippines, Korea, Indonesia, Japan and the USA). The claim that Brucesploitation movies are ‘imitation martial arts films’ is particularly silly; in my experience most of those interested in the genre currently consider them to be actual martial arts films rather than imitation fight flicks. That said, such a slippage does serve to illustrate the damage the clone fallacy does to a proper understanding of the genre.

Wikipedia entries are highly ranked by search engines and are influential, therefore misconceptions within them and the sources they draw upon and link to – including in the instance of the one on ‘Bruceploitation’ your website - need to be challenged, which is what I’ve been doing. I would also point out that this Wikipedia entry has for some time contained a link to a review of the Carl Jones book Here Come The Kung Fu Clones that I wrote and published in 2012, and that my understanding of Brucesploitation has changed since then; although I would stand by the review’s premise that Jones in his book was confused about the Bruce Le filmography - this is reiterated in less detail in Re-Enter The Dragon.

You say: “I also don't think anyone has ever said that Bruce Lee A Dragon Story is the first Bruceploitation movie, it is the first Bruce Lee Bio-pic.”

The top two entries of the web search I just did for Bruce Lee: A Dragon Story (1974), both addressed the matter of it being the ‘first’ Brucesploitation movie. I got live links for Wikipedia and Hong Kong Movie Database but I’m providing archived ones here:

Bruce Lee: A Dragon Story… is a 1974 Bruceploitation film starring Bruce Li…. The film is notable for being the first biopic of Bruce Lee (it was released the year following his death), the debut film of notorious Lee imitator Bruce Li, and the first film in the Bruceploitation genre.
“Bruce Lee: A Dragon Story is thought to be the first entry in the extraordinary genre of what are known as "Brucesploitation" films.” https://web.archive.org/web/20120710022900/http://hkmdb.com/db/movies/reviews.mhtml?id=9646&display_set=eng

You say: “…how do you know my opinions on Bruce Leung Siu-Lung or Tadashi Yamashita and how they fit into Bruceploitation? I've never published a profile on them on my site. If you wanted my opinion on them, here is a radical idea, you could have just asked me!”

I assume it is narcissism that makes you think I’d be interested in your opinions. To clarify, I couldn’t give a flying fuck about your opinions on Bruce Liang (AKA Bruce Leung Siu-Lung), Tadashi Yamashita, or anything else for that matter. My book dealt with Brucesploitation as a genre and that meant I needed to address the discourse(s) that create and shape it, and unfortunately your website is a part of this and is publicly accessible. On your site you have a page dedicated to ‘lesser known stars of Bruceploitation’, where you mention three major clones and go on to provide a list of others who were ‘impersonating The Little Dragon’. You include both Bruce Liang (AKA Bruce Leung Siu-Lung) and Tadashi Yamashita on this list and therefore effectively treat them as clones. It would have been completely redundant to ask you about this because you’d already implicitly stated your position online. In case you’ve forgotten what’s on your own website here’s an archived version of the page: https://web.archive.org/web/20190819111923/http://clonesofbrucelee.info/enter-another-dragon/

You say: “And why would anyone classify Mission Terminate as a Bruceploitation movie? It is only included on my site due to the fact that it features Bruce Le and I cover his entire filmography.”

If you cover Bruce Le’s entire filmography why am I unable to find coverage of it all on your site? For example I can find nothing about Treasure of Bruce Lee or My Name Called Bruce. When I use the search engine on your site for these films it produces no results, see screenshots below. It’s claims like this, which I’m unable to substantiate, that lead me to suspect you may be a habitual liar. Since I’ve never been able to find coverage of ALL Bruce Le’s films on your site, your sorry justification isn’t exactly convincing. There’s nothing on the page containing the Richard Norton interview to suggest you see Mission Terminate as anything other than Brucesploitation. That page is archived here: https://web.archive.org/web/20190819112551/http://clonesofbrucelee.info/richard-norton/

Your homepage explicitly states: “This website is dedicated to Bruce Lee exploitation cinema, or ‘Bruceploitation’ as it has become to be known.” This is at the top of the page in capital letters and it is therefore reasonable for anyone visiting the site to conclude that anything on it - such as the coverage of Mission Terminate - you consider to be Brucesploitation, unless you explicitly state otherwise. BTW: your sentence construction is shockingly bad and you really ought to rewrite the dreadful ‘as it has become to be known’ since this sloppy phrasing is very visible on the page.  In case you’ve forgotten what’s on your homepage there’s an archived version of it here: https://web.archive.org/web/20190209093714/http://clonesofbrucelee.info/

You write: “I applaud anyone who goes to the effort to bring out a book on this genre that I love I just don't see why you think you had to include my name, and other writers (e.g. Carl Jones) in such a negative way to try make yourself and your book look better. As a fan and researcher of this genre for more than 30 years I wouldn't see the need to try and put down you in anything I write. My research into the genre consists of more than merely watching what i can find online or purchased from the poundshop and writing a basic plot line and sticking it in a book.”

This self-refuting passage really made me laugh. You are attempting to put me down in your brickbat, and it is something you’ve written, so why pointlessly contradict yourself within it by rhetorically stating: “I wouldn't see the need to try and put down you in anything I write…” You appear incapable of making or sustaining a coherent argument or writing a well-constructed sentence. Likewise some of the absurd errors on your part addressed here rather belie your claims to have been researching ‘this genre for more than 30 years’. It would appear that what you call ‘research’ consists mostly of spouting the first piece bullshit that enters your head and deluding yourself into thinking no one will notice you’re utterly clueless. Likewise your claim that me ‘putting you down’ will make me or my book ‘look better’ is ridiculous, since you’re a complete twit who is utterly incapable of making me or anyone else ‘look better’ by comparison. I also hope it’s clear by now I wasn’t putting you down in my book even if I am now. I’m doing that here to demonstrate the difference between civil critical engagement with your website – which is my stance towards it in Re-Enter The Dragon – and personalised refutation with humorous insults, which as I trust this reply illustrates is a style of address that I am also familiar with and that I can deploy as and when is necessary. It would be great if this eventually helped you to understand the difference between the two, although at present that seems rather unlikely.

You say: “And one final thought, I've never seen Bruceploitation spelt "Brucesploitation". I've no idea where you got that idea from.”

I discuss the variant spellings of Brucesploitation in Re-Enter The Dragon and if as you claim you’ve been researching the genre for 30 years then you really ought to have seen the spelling I use elsewhere. Either you’re lying or you haven’t done any serious research, or both. I’m going to give you one example of the Brucesploitation spelling being used here but you can find many more by doing a simple web search, assuming - of course - you’re not too simple to use a search engine: https://www.grindhousedatabase.com/index.php/Brucesploitation