With rapper holograms and cameos all over the place from departed celebrities, we’re in a brave new world in which any icon can be brought back to the screen with enough work. The latest such icon to brought back to life? Bruce Lee, in a spiritually-tinged ad for Johnny Walker directed by none other than CHUD-pal Joseph Kahn (Torque, Detention).
True to Kahn’s style, this isn’t merely coyly toying with Mr. Lee’s image- the short gets right up in the man’s face, digitally brought to life by The Mill. What I most appreciate is the decision to bring Lee into the modern world, offering advice to the people of 2013 as a sort of wandering spirit of zen badassery. It’s an exploration of the man as a representation of graceful masculinity rather than just exploitation his martial arts image. The effects work took months, and it shows. There’s a lot of delicate use of light and some uncanny expressions captured. I don’t think we’re ready for an entire movie starring one of these digital actors, but shit is classy is what I’m saying.
Mr. Lee’s daughter Shannon was heavily involved in the rather painstaking process as described by Kahn:
My good friend BBH Creative Executive Johnny Tan and I first talked about doing this concept a year ago. We shot it in Hong Kong, and then we worked with vfx company The Mill in London to create a completely CGI Bruce Lee over nine months. EVERY shot of his head and every detail in there is completely cgi. We got Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter, to come aboard and we really picked her brain to make sure that everything was accurate from look to soul. We wanted to be as respectful to the man and legend as we could.
Perhaps we’ll be seeing an Avengers-style mashup of resurrected celebrities sometime soon. Start with the VW Grace Kelly and the crew could even a Hulk in the form of Terminator: Salvation’s 80s Arnold recreation…