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Thread: The Orphan (Bruce Lee's last film prior to becoming a Kung Fu star)

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  1. #1
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    The Orphan (Bruce Lee's last film prior to becoming a Kung Fu star)

    I’m looking forward to finally seeing this obscure Bruce Lee film that I’ve never seen before on this Saturday, at the Great Star no less!

    Radiating Bruce Lee: Cinema Under The Sky
    光芒四射李小龍:星光下的電影
    Five film screenings and accompanying talks on the life and iconic career of Bruce Lee. Rare silent, documentary and narrative feature films, mixing genres from martial arts action to arthouse and melodrama. View Bruce Lee’s trailblazing accomplishments at the dynamic intersection of Hong Kong and Chinese American cinema. Screenings at outdoor and indoor locations across Chinatown. This film series by CHSA transforms the parking lot into Chinatown’s first open air cinema experience.
    Buy a binge pass and get access to all five events.
    華人歷史學會主辦 光芒四射李小龍:星光下的電影
    探索一名華人偶像的電影事業和影響電影系列

    ---

    THE ORPHAN (1960) BY LEE SUN-FUNG

    Saturday, November 5

    2.30PM – 3.50PM (Introduction, guest talk from Sam Ho and question and answer)

    4.00PM – 5.45PM (Film screening)

    636 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133 (Great Star Theater)
    Join CHSA for a screening of The Orphan accompanied by a talk from Hong Kong film critic Sam Ho on the Making of Bruce Lee. The Hong Kong-based curator, researcher, and writer Sam Ho will examine the syncretic identities of Bruce Lee and their formation in the nexus of postwar, colonial Hong Kong.
    Bruce Lee grew up as a young Cantoese cinema star. The Orphan was the last film he made before leaving Hong Kong to study in the US. The teenage Lee plays a wild child whose thievery one day lands him in the path of a kindly headmaster. This film is extremely rarely screened anywhere outside of Hong Kong.
    人海孤鴻
    星期六,11月5日
    下午5時至9時
    金星戲院
    積臣街636號




    WITH GUEST TALK FROM INTERNATIONAL FILM CRITIC
    Sam Ho
    The-Orphan-(Bruce-Lee-s-last-film-prior-to-becoming-a-Kung-Fu-star)
    We-Are-Bruce-Lee-at-CHSA
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  2. #2
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    So excited to see The Orphan tomorrow

    Here's an old SCMP feature on Bruce's child star films.

    Bruce Lee’s forgotten child star start: before Enter the Dragon and breaking into Hollywood, the martial arts actor was Hong Kong’s ‘Little Dragon Li’ after landing his first role as a baby
    The martial arts superstar would miss the release of his final Hong Kong film, The Orphan, in 1960, as he had left for a new life in the US before it came out
    Lee followed in his father Li Hoi-chuen’s footsteps into showbiz, racking up a healthy number of film roles after his Hong Kong debut, The Birth of Mankind, in 1946

    Douglas Parkes

    Published: 10:00am, 20 Feb, 2022


    A young Bruce Lee in My Son A-Chang. Photo: @moviesmoviesmoremovies/Instagram
    There are many iconic scenes from Bruce Lee’s films. There are the nunchucks and Colosseum fights from Way of the Dragon, the hall of mirrors showdown that marks the climax of Enter the Dragon, and the visually striking bout between the 7-foot-2-inch (2.18 metre) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the rather more diminutive Lee from Game of Death.
    These films, as well as Fist of Fury and The Big Boss, form the vast bulk of Lee’s cinematic legacy for most people. However, what is often unrealised is that Lee had a history of working in film and television long before his breakthrough in 1971’s The Big Boss.
    Lee started acting young – very young, in fact. His first-ever role came as a newborn baby in Esther Eng’s Golden Gate Girl, filmed in California. Lee’s father, Li Hoi-chuen, was a friend of Eng, who wanted a baby for certain scenes in her movie about an estranged family who eventually reconcile over the need to support China’s war effort against Japan.


    Bruce Lee in one of his most famous scenes from Enter the Dragon. Photo: TNS
    Li, a former Cantonese opera actor, was all too aware of the vagaries of a career in acting and was reluctant to set his son on the same precarious path. However, given his friend’s request and the need for members of the Chinese diaspora to help each other out, Li eventually agreed.
    At this stage of his life, Lee hadn’t even learned to crawl, but he was still ready for his close-up (and his one and only performance pretending to be a girl). Lee only appears for a couple of scenes – one where he is being rocked to sleep and another where he wails and flails like a typical disgruntled baby – but few stars can claim to have started work so young.
    Not long after, Lee’s family returned to Hong Kong. His father, thanks to his opera connections, soon began working in the nascent Hong Kong film industry. Professionals would visit Lee’s home and his dad would often take him to visit the sets he was working on. It was during one of these visits that Bruce would be spotted and offered his first “real” role.

    Bruce Lee as a 10-year-old orphan in The Kid, released in 1950. Photo: Handout
    The film was The Birth of Mankind (1946) and for this minor melodrama Lee played a young runaway who eventually turns to petty crime before being hit by a truck. Unlike his later work, the film was no hit and is only notable for typecasting Lee as a tough, streetwise kid with a heart of gold – exactly the kind of role he’d be given, with slight tweaks, for most of his childhood acting career. This included his next film, Wealth is Like a Dream (1948), where he played a boy lost after the turbulence of World War II.
    After these bit parts, Lee was able to sink his teeth into something meatier two years later. Director Fung Fung was adapting the popular comic Kid Cheung by Yuen Po-wan and needed a child actor with just the right mix of street smarts and kindness. Fung saw Lee’s previous work and went to ask his father’s permission to cast him in his film (which would be released as The Kid and, alternatively, My Son A-Chang in English).
    Still reluctant to have his son became an actor – instead hoping he would attain a more solid middle-class profession – Lee’s father initially declined Fung’s offer of the lead role for his son. The senior Li only relented when Fung promised him a role of his own so that he could keep an eye on his child during filming.
    The Kid would be one of Lee’s most important films. It was a critical and commercial success and Lee was widely applauded for his performance as the titular character. Not only that, the film is notable for providing Lee with a new screen name. Previously known as Little Hoi-chuen, after his father, the credits for The Kid named Bruce as Li Long (Dragon Li). Because of his small stature, Lee’s nickname soon became Li Xiao-long (Little Dragon Li). Bruce was so enamoured with this name that he chose to use it in his private life instead of his birth name, Li Jun-fan.
    Yet despite this breakthrough, the Dragon’s film career was put on ice for a number of years. Lee’s unruly behaviour at school was causing trouble for his parents and his father remained wary of allowing his son to become too involved in filmmaking. To punish Bruce for his misbehaviour, Hoi-chuen forbade his son from starring in a sequel to The Kid and only allowed him to make one movie in the next three years, The Beginning of Man in 1951.



    Bruce loved making films, though, and after three years of nagging his parents allowed him to work regularly again. Lee became a familiar face working for Union Film Enterprises (UFE), a leftist group of filmmakers who wished to create high quality, socially conscious films. The core of the troupe was always the same actors and Lee filled the role of teenage boy. Between 1953 and 1955 he appeared in 10 of UFE’s films, which included films with dramatic titles like An Orphan’s Tragedy, In the Face of Demolition and A Mother’s Tears.
    The most significant of these films was A Guiding Light (1953), one of Lee’s most significant roles to that point, about a homeless boy (Lee), adopted by a kind doctor and his wife, who eventually grows up to discover a cure for blindness.
    Unfortunately, creative differences meant UFE disbanded after just three years and following the split, roles were hard to come by for Lee. By now he was too old to play the part of a roguish young kid, and too young to play more mature roles. After that burst of work with UFE, Lee appeared in only five films throughout the next five years. Arguably the only memorable one from this period is 1957’s Thunderstorm, which saw Lee act against cast and play a refined young gentleman. Critics were not impressed and called his performance “rigid” and “artificial”.

    Bruce Lee in The Orphan, which came out in 1960. Photo: Hualien Films
    Lee’s fallow period continued and for the next three years he didn’t appear in any film – the longest drought of his career. This, combined with the mounting issues surrounding Lee’s propensity to pick fights and get into trouble with the authorities, meant his parents decided to send Bruce back to America for a fresh start.
    Just before this came to pass, Lee starred in one of the best films of his career. The Orphan (1960) was classic fare for Lee pre-martial arts stardom. He played a young man, Ah Sum, orphaned during the war with Japan, who joins a street gang. Eventually arrested, he is given a choice between school and jail. Ah Sum decides to knuckle down and study but he runs afoul of his old gang members when he refuses to help them out one last time.
    The Orphan was a huge hit and Lee’s performance was singled out for praise. The film broke box office records and was the first Hong Kong film to achieve international fame following its showing at the Milan Film Festival.
    Sadly, Lee could not revel in this accomplishment. The Orphan had been filmed in the early months of 1959 and, with the film not out yet, he left Hong Kong for San Francisco at the end of April.
    Greater glory awaited him in America but, in an echo of the past, given how he reached a new peak following Enter the Dragon, he sadly departed early and would not be around to enjoy his success.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  3. #3
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    Our latest exclusive film review on KungFuMagazine.com

    Radiating Bruce - THE ORPHAN: When Bruce Lee Had No Kung Fu... by Gene Ching

    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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