Interview by Mighty Peking Man - May 28, 2010
Carl, how about an introduction?
I've been a fan of Martial Arts cinema since January 1974 which, somewhat gives my age away. The movie was Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury and it changed my life overnight. I began to seek out every Kung fu flick that played at the local flea-pits. In those days, movie-going was cheap and Cinema's were plenty which led to my life-long appreciation of film. Of course Bruce Lee and his contemporaries were also the catalyst to me studying the martial arts, which I still do.
I wouldn't call myself any kind of expert in Hong Kong cinema as my tastes are more-or-less confined to the period what has been termed the 'Golden Age' (the mid-1960's to the late 1970's). I have no love for the so-called Martial Art films of today, with their smooth digitized, wire dependant stunts.
I have also loved writing about films and managed to have pieces accepted by the now defunct 'Bruceploitation' website, 'Bruce Lee - The Divine Wind', 'Bruce Lee Review' and a few others. This led to me being invited to do a regular column for about six issues (under the banner 'Fists from the Past') in the magazine 'Jade Screen' which kind of ended rather abruptly! Which leads to where I am now - my first book.
"Here Come The Kung Fu Clones" features glorious full color layouts.
First off, why a book about Bruceploitation?
Originally, I was to going to expand on the articles I had written for 'Jade Screen' and do a book that celebrated that 'Golden Age' I mentioned. I was also writing reviews over at 'Bruceploitation' and suddenly thought that a compilation of those would be a better idea as no one had - to my knowledge - ever devoted a whole book to the subject. Being a huge fan of Bruce Li, I wanted to give the man his long overdue celebration of the good work (and some of his bad!) he did in martial arts film. I was never that enamored with his co-conspirators in the 'Bruce' genre (Bruce Le, Dragon lee et al), but realized that they too should feature to give a more balanced approach to the genre.
Do you consider Bruceploitation films to be a sign of disrespect to the “real” Dragon?
Yes and no. Like many people, I was appalled that anyone could take 'the Dragon's' place. I was about 16 or 17 when these films started to appear and here in the UK we had a magazine called - funnily enough - DRAGON that promoted Bruce Li and his films very heavily. In my young, Bruce Lee obsessed mind, I thought 'Christ, the guy isn't cold yet and they are foisting a double on the public!'... However as the years went by I realized that there was a huge market for these films and I started to find the entertainment value in them. If anything, they added a certain kind of mystique to Lee's legend.
Bruce Li sells, but sex sells even better. Danna has a hard time keeping her clothes on.
Well, for one thing, I want the reader to enjoy what he or she is reading. My writing style is pretty quirky and I can tend to get caught up in the moment when I'm enjoying what I'm writing about. I hate to read dry, fact driven pieces, that become a chore. I'll drop in facts in my writing, almost subconsciously, so that I can get to the point quicker. So those folk wanting to know Dragon Lee's inside leg measurement or Tong Lung's favorite breakfast cereal will be sorely disappointed. We also have some terrific photos in there; so, if you get bored with the text, you can always look at the nice color pictures.
And what if I get bored with the pictures?
Well, you can send the book back and I will stick pics of naked chicks over the shots of the Bruces; or naked guys....your choice mate!
Chan Wai Man, Bruce Le, Lo Lieh and... Nora Miao? (she must have needed money at the time)
Is there any new information for those of us who are already have a keen knowledge of “Bruceploitation" films?
That's for the reader to decide. In a perfect world I would have tracked the actors/directors/producers and distributors down to unravel the whole Bruceploitation scene. Because it's a fan-driven project with (hardly) any budget, I hope my memories and research have been enough to satisfy the punters.
Are ALL Bruceploitation films covered in your book?
No. I decided right from the start that I would concentrate ONLY on those films that were, in the main related (however tenuous) to something akin to the films Bruce Lee actually produced. Whether it be an unofficial sequel, exploitive drama or just the fact that the lead actor plays a 'Bruce Lee' type character - in terms of 'look' or 'feel' or the fight choreography. Is 'Dragon Lee Meets the 5 Bothers' a 'Bruceploitation' film? Not in my opinion, yet 'The Ming Patriots' is. Also, another factor was sourcing some of the films. I (amongst many) would have loved to review 'The Big Boss Part II' starring Lo Lieh. Seeing that it's impossible to find (except for a lengthy clip on You Tube) in any format, it would have been very naughty of me to include it.
The real Bruce Lee isn't in this movie, but let's put him on the poster anyways. Perfect example of extreme "Bruceploitation".
Are all the “clones” covered?
I have tried to include as many of the clones as possible. Once again, this is arguable. If the actor was clone-ish, he didn't make the cut.
What is your favorite Bruceploitation film?
I have quite a few that I'm very fond of but it would probably be 'The Last Strike' (aka Soul Brothers of Kung fu or The Tiger Strikes Again).
Who is your favorite clone?
It has to be Bruce Li. Not only was he good at doing 'Bruce' - checkout 'Bruce Lee the Man, the Myth' for evidence - he became a good, believable actor and screen fighter. Like Bruce Lee himself in fact! The closest any of the others came to him was Bruce Le in 'Enter the Game of Death'.
Don't confuse this Dragon Lee film with the ultra-rare Bruce Le/Lo Lieh feature of the same name.
If Dragon Lee, Bruce Li and Bruce Le (in their prime) were thrown into the Kumite, who would walk out with less injury?
Probably Dragon Lee, as he's built like a brick shithouse!
I notice the cover says “Foreword by Bey Logan” - who is he, and why should I care?
You are kidding aren't you? He's the kid who discovered the lost footage of Elvis fighting Bigfoot! (Sorry Bey!)
Held together by a beautifully designed cover by a very talented graphic designer, this book is bound to be a collector's item. Here's a secret: Buy a copy, then sell it on ebay once it's out of print. Make a couple hundred bucks, easy.
Yes, I'm kidding... Where can I get a copy of the book? And will signed copies be available?
My co-conspirator John Overall is handling all that....don't hassle me, man! Oh, alright I'll sign 'em!
If I wrote my own book about Bruceploitation and called it “Here Come The Real Kung Fu Clones: By Karl Jonas”, what would you do?
Buy the bloody thing! It couldn't be any worse than mine!
Thank you very much Carl, looking forward to your book!
Order your copy now from www.Amazon.co.uk
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