"Bruce Lee Is a Hero!" Mao Zedong Said; Nixon Admired Jet Li

A blog about politics, sports, media, stuff
Dec. 22 2010 11:00 AM

"Bruce Lee Is a Hero!" Mao Zedong Said; Nixon Admired Jet Li

A column in today's China Daily describes a

Advertisement

from the year 1974:


By 1974, Mao was diagnosed with a cataract and was advised by his doctors to refrain from reading. Thus he turned to movies. After a heavy dose of foreign biopics, such as those on Abraham Lincoln and Napoleon, he moved on to Hong Kong fare.

The task of collecting these films fell to Liu Qingtang, then deputy minister of the Ministry of Culture, a ballet dancer who shot to prominence by affiliating himself with Jiang Qing (Madame Mao) and starring in her "model repertory".

[...]

Liu, who sat with Mao during the screenings, said he watched The Big Boss, Fist of Fury and The Way of the Dragon. Mao would burst into eulogies when he got excited.

While watching Fist of Fury for the first time, Mao dissolved in tears, Liu recalled, and said "Bruce Lee is a hero!" Mao watched the film twice more. Liu said he did not know of any other movie that Mao viewed three times.

When it came time to ship the prints back to Hong Kong, nobody dared do so lest Mao got another urge to watch them. Only after he was terminally ill were two of the movies returned.

But Mao was not the only high-level martial-arts enthusiast that year. In an essay on his website, Jet Li recounts his childhood experience as a member of a wushu troupe

:


The last stop and climax of our U.S. tour was Washington, D.C., where a select few from our team performed our wushu routines on the White House lawn. After the performance, we were officially introduced to the American dignitaries and posed with them for official pictures. As I remember, President Richard Nixon stood with one of my female teammates, and I stood next to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. At one point, Nixon turned towards me and said, "Young man, your kung fu is very impressive! How about being my bodyguard when you grow up?"

"No, " I blurted out. "I don't want to protect any individual. When I grow up, I want to defend my one billion Chinese countrymen!"

People were stunned. There was an uncomfortable silence. Nobody had expected me to give that kind of an answer-least of all myself.

Kissinger was the one who finally broke the silence. "Heavens, such a young boy and he already speaks like a diplomat!"

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

iOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 12:02 PM Here It Is: The Flimsiest Campaign Attack Ad of 2014, Which Won’t Stop Running
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 1:59 PM Ask a Homo: Secret Ally Codes 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 1:26 PM Hey CBS, Rihanna Is Exactly Who I Want to See on My TV Before NFL Games
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 1:01 PM A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.