before his untimely Death, Bruce Lee and his student, James Coburn, created a Story for film. it was meant to help introduce western audiences to some of the tenets in eastern philosophy. the original title was “the Silent Flute”.
years later, David Carradine obtained the rights, and aided by writers Sterling Silliphant and Stanley Mann, the film was finally made.
with the immediately forgettable Jeff Cooper in the Protagonist role, and heavyweight supporting done by Christopher Lee, Eli Wallach and Roddy McDowell, it is David Carradine’s performances as 4 characters that carries the Story.
our Hero begins by entering a Tournament of fighters, each seeking to win the prize, a Quest to find the Book of All Knowledge. when asked his Style, Cord answers “no Style”, alluding to Sifu Lee’s own Jeet Kune Do. he wins , of course, otherwise it woud be a 10 minute movie.
the Journey consists of many trials, from Combat to Ethics to Spirit…many might not be readily apparent to some viewers, in part due to Coopers pitiful acting/fighting abilities as well as flaws in the writing done as the movie was being made. Caradine does well as our hero’s Guide in the part of the Blind Flute Player, not as well in the Adversarial roles …the pity here is that Carradine is the closest thing we get to a Martial Artist.
you can tell what the Imagery aims for, allegory and metaphor abound. and there are some good Moments…when the Blind Flute Player asks Cord who he is and upon hearing it scoffs and says “even your name is a noise”…Cord realizes that the Blind Man knows everything that is going to happen a few seconds before it does and states “you’ve been thru this before” and the Blind Man answers, “how many times..” and slaps his open palm against Cord’s cheek (giving the Answer to the old Riddle, what is the sound of one hand clapping). there’s also a fantastic line from Carradine ” it is difficult to kill a horse with a flute”
the Final Testing (Christopher Lee) passed, Cord holds the Book of All Knowledge in his hands, opens it, and sees himself in a mirror page, turns it and sees the same thing…again…again….again…
bad fight scenes, uneven dialogue, Jeff Cooper as Cord is hopeless…not to mention the hideous Irony of Carradine, who stole Lee’s part for the TV series “Kung Fu”, steals this role after Lee’s death…this film belongs in the “awful movie” category for certain
however..it IS a lot of Fun, it does remain a decent Introduction to some forms of easter Thought, and the final Lesson of the Book is downright gnostic in it’s Implications…you’ve been Warned
but i like it, and would own the DVD…the interviews in the extras alone are worth it, and part of it is sentimental for me… a Legend says that Lee held off making it because he wanted his son, Brandon to play Cord while Lee himself played the parts Carradine does…file that on the shelf of Movies that were never made held in the Heart while still having this quirky Shadow to view with real eyes…
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