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Film Review: 30 for 30: Be Water (2020) - USA

Andrew Chan 30 For 30: Be Water Bao Nguyen Be Water Bruce Lee ESPN

30 for 30: Be Water (2020) - USA


Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)

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There is so much to love a about the latest ESPN documentary “30 for 30: Be Water”, as much as it is about Bruce Lee, it is really about general Asian American representation in Hollywood during the racist 60s and 70s. It is all the more inspiring when director Bao Nguyen allows real life clips and interviews of key people in Lee’s life to flow out the key messages. Bruce Lee has become almost mythical basis and it’s timely to witness that he too struggled and suffered as a human being only that he managed to fulfil his ambitions and overcome difficulties that many would have simply given up. Given the context of Hollywood and in face of rejection, we witness someone who believed in himself truly and expressed himself totally like water.


There are moments that make this documentary special, Lee rise to fame in Hong Kong is a message of global acceptance and the attainment of the ultimate goal of martial arts that is to be totally adaptable and fluid in all situations that life throws at you. Personally, Bruce Lee represent a big part of my spiritual growth and seeing him exceed all boundaries and expectations to become a hero and icon for not just Asians, but for people of all colours. Lee once said that he like to think of himself as a human being and that under the sky, we are one family. The saying is all the more relevant today as the “Black Life Matters” have blown thru across the world.


All in all, “30 for 30: Be Water” is more than a fitting tribute of Bruce Lee to all human beings that we can too achieve the impossible if we have enough will power and belief in ourselves. We see the full support from Lee’s wife, Linda and how he drawn from a constant state of learning from his students and all those around him. Ultimately, we are left with butter-sweet emotions as what could have been if he survived as “Enter the Dragon” became the film and stardom that would have made him a global superstar. Perhaps the Asian American representation wave would have come much sooner, but for what it is worth, Lee became a myth and a legend within a timeless era and his very presence on screen was a protest in itself.


“Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. Always be yourself; express yourself; have faith in yourself.”

— Bruce Lee


I rated it 9/10


Available for streaming on ESPN

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