A Bridge Too Far, well almost. . .

April 20, 2012

I receive a request to send the ‘man who fell off the roof’ along to the Studios where he’ll be working ‘closely’ (there’s an euphemism, if ever there was one!) with the lead actor on a film called ‘Bruce Lee and I’.

The fight co-ordinator turns out to be the stunts manager from the previous film. He seems quite pleased to see me and shakes my hand as he introduces me to a young, athletic Chinese guy wearing a beige, three-piece suit. This is Danny Lee, who is playing the lead, Bruce Lee. He gives me a wide welcoming grin with white even teeth.

Yuen, the fight choreographer, gives my instructions since the director, who asked specially that I be there, ignores me.

I am to be drunken, lecherous and about to molest Ms Betty when a vengeful Bruce half- drowns me in her bath. This is to be my ‘motivation’. I set to fighting Bruce but come up against the new martial art technique, devised by Bruce himself, who proceeds to whup my ass, competently and thoroughly, as I put up a pitiful display of European style boxing, intentionally ineffectual. I am not to look confident but must obviously be in awe of ‘The Dragon’.

Despite my following orders, neither Danny nor the action manager are happy with my performance. I must be more vigorous. I am to be admittedly unimpressive but not, as I currently appear, totally useless. Two or three more go-arounds show no improvement.

It is decided, for the sake of realism and due to my apparent inability to provide a serious threat to Bruce’s wellbeing that I should go all out and actually try to hit Bruce, who, the choreographer and Danny both believe, is accomplished enough to deflect all ‘my feeble efforts’. I like to think that I can absorb constructive criticism but, freely admit, not always with good grace. I should say, at this juncture, these guys are taking all the fun out of this for me. I’m beginning to feel just a little vexed.

We get down to it again but I can’t work up the motivation to go all out and Danny makes it look like child’s play deflecting my straight arm punches with an over the top looping movement, known in the business apparently as “The Snake”, that sweeps all my efforts away.

The director interrupts as he wants to film the scene in the corridor where the drunk passes Bruce on his way to Betty’s room, followed by the part where intoxicated me gets baptised. One take is enough for the corridor but the bathroom scene takes four, which means that many duckings for yours truly.

While waiting for the cameras to be set up for the whupping, the fight co-ordinator decides to have one last attempt at getting an Oscar performance out of me. Danny appears almost bored as he listens in.

“Do no try do much set piece box fight. Rerax. Do you your own ting. Trow punches. You not worry. Danny can stop.” Danny sagely nodded his agreement. We go for one last tussle before we have to film.

I block Danny’s left fist with my solar plexus, and realise that he is rubbish at pulling a punch, before I mercilessly punish first his right and then his left set of knuckles with my face. I throw another right, his left hand sweeps over it swinging it away, outwards to my right, as simultaneously I unleash a powerful left hook, elbow well up, which I have no intention of “pulling”, that evades the snake. Henry Cooper would have been proud of it. Unfortunately, Danny can’t stop it; well, he does, but with three thousand dollars’ worth of bridgework.

Danny leaves to see his dentist. The director and the co-ordinator get into a huddle and, with frequent rather unhappy looks in my direction, decide their action plan. To me it is obvious I am toast, but wait – due to the scenes already shot and in the can, Danny’s time out to see his orthodontist and the lack of time to find someone else, I’ve become ‘indispensable’.

I’m to come back and film another day. Result!

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