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The Asian ApertureThe Green Hornet (1974)
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, January 14, 2011    Share

With the new Green Hornet movie coming soon to a theater near you in 2011, I thought I would reflect on the old 1974 Green Hornet movie that very few seem to remember.

One Saturday afternoon, I happened to be at the Sound Exchange on Nebraska and headed straight for the martial arts section. I found The Green Hornet (1974) on DVD and right away I knew that something had to be wrong. Bruce Lee died in 1973 and following his death everyone jumped on the bandwagon to fill the missing void by releasing old stuff for cheap posthumous releases. The same fate that
dogged Jimi Hendrix back in 1970 when tons of bootlegs and studio outtakes hit the market seem to plague , Bruce Lee. I knew that this so called movie would be bits and pieces from the 60's TV series but I didn't care because I owned all the other Bruce Lee movies so I might as well get a look at Bruce before he made it big in Hong Kong and later internationally thanks to Enter the Dragon (1973.)

After multiple viewings of the Green Hornet DVD, I quickly noticed the good and the bad. On the bad the middle episodes involving The Green Hornet and Kato battling space aliens is such a let down. One particular hokey scene is when Kato attacks a fat white guy playing an alien and the alien blasts him with some type of energy charge that sends Kato flying over a coach. There is not even a good fight scene at the end between Kato and fat clumsy aliens. Also, the first episode doesn't really set up the Green Hornet or Kato to the
audience. It is an uninteresting episode about game hunters. However, the action shots of Kato in kung fu action are worth checking out.

In his Green Hornet days, Bruce was still using Wing Chun techniques and going for the quick, economy of motion knockdowns that he was teaching his martial arts students at the time. His own art of Jeet Kune Do wasn't around so his Cinematic Jeet Kune Do wouldn't have been around either. Movie audiences would have to wait for The Big Boss to see that.

Before, dismissing The Green Hornet as a truly bad movie, there is a good solid episode for the finale that features Bruce Lee fighting against Mako (Memoirs of a Geisha, Highlander: The Final Dimension) that is something to see because Mako is using the traditional kung fu style of Northern Praying Mantis against Lee's traditional Southern Wing Chun. An easy way to determine which style is which is
that the Northern Style relies on kicking and Southern Styles emphasis punching. Set in San Francisco Chinatown, this last episode is about Chinese gangsters. The usual kidnapping and threatening go on. Mako is the leader of one gang and gets into a brief fight with Kato and literary slams Kato into a trash can. This was such a funny scene to anyone who knows of Bruce and his legendary temper and sense of pride in his high level of kung fu skills. Finally, after egging each other on, Kato and Mako square off for a quick, but entertaining fight that has to be easily one of the best fight scenes on American TV. Forget the slow motion Tai Chi of David Carradine in Kung Fu or the Tang So Do kicks of Chuck Norris in Walker Texas Ranger, the Green
Hornet fight is still much better.

It is a shame that this little movie was only meant to keep selling the Bruce Lee name, a year after his death. The Green Hornet movie is still interesting for Van Williams portrayal of The Green Horent, all the Asia actors that went on to bigger careers, the shots of the car called the Black Beauty zipping down the streets with Kato at the wheel, and the final half hour is the main draw the elevates this movie beyond bad pulp.

Now with that in mind, I really am not expecting much from the new Green Hornet movie. For one thing Seth Rogen is such a terrible actor with his lame druggie slacker persona. He can't just be the stupid pothead Seth Rogen when he plays the Green Hornet. I willing to accept the fact that he might pull it off. Jay Chou is a Taiwanese singer who definitely lacks Lee's kung fu background. This will be yet another actor who will being using wires and CGI to try to pass himself off as a kung fu expert. He probably only had a little bit of martial arts training just prior to filming to try to make it look real. No 2-week or a few months of training can compensate for a lifetime of dedicated training. So I predict that Jay Chou will look ok but something will be missing. Even as a movie goer, when you see
real martial arts, you knew it in your gut. No amount of post production and limited training can replace something real and authentic.

Do yourself a favor and seek out The Green Hornet from 1974. Yes, it has several flaws but for the true Green Hornet experience it can't be beat.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2011 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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