Friday, October 28, 2016

Unsettled Matters: The Life and Death of Bruce Lee

Unsettled Matters: The Life and Death of Bruce Lee is one of those books some followers and fans don’t want. Looking online it appears its author Tom Bleecker has received a mostly positive response. There are those that are distrustful, if downright dismissive towards this work. The author was an acquaintance to Bruce Lee as well as later becoming Bruce Lee’s wife’s second husband.

Unlike other biopics that have created a fantasy around the subject, this authors intention is to dispel the saint Bruce mythology so prevalent today. The author felt he was obligated to write this due to his commitment to the martial arts community. This book covers the multiple Bruce Lee’s. The two I’ll briefly mention is the young, raw and pure martial artist, and the later abusive drug ridden one.

Qualities often unknown with the younger Lee is, he faced tremendous obstacles. Extreme nearsightedness, language barrier, small, legs of different length, stuttering and cryptorchidism (look it up, it’s complicated). Overcoming these challenges, he changed an aspect of martial arts where someone would just appoint themselves a great master to never be challenged or proved.

In the end, he succumbed to rivalries with Hollywood stars. He fell into drug use. He used some of the most damaging anabolic steroids. They were physically damaging to him and well as his mental health. This resulted in physiologically debilitating behavior, unpredictable violent outbursts and attacks on people. A famous film maker once said his martial art failed him. Really, he had lost his way.

A more honest account like this one made me appreciate Bruce Lee more. Not so much in trying to repeat his footsteps but addressing his fears, hopes, and human behaviors we’re all challenged with at some point. He was no exception to human frailty.