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Ricky Chik Remembers Bruce Lee

August 7 2015 at 8:42 AM
LJF  (Login LJF)

Response to Re: Thanks LJF. Any info on Ricky Chik?

Nick, Ricky Chik was a low profile guy. I found one Chinese article which Ricky Chik wrote about Bruce. I have translated and hope to share it with BL fans on the forum.


Ricky Chik Yiu-Cheong had been working in the film industry between 1962-1983. During his career, he had been an assistant director for 16 films, director for 2 films which include “Sonny Come Home (1972) and “The bloody Hero” (1976) as well as produced 4 films. He first started working for HK Shaw Brothers and subsequently joined Golden Harvest. As a capable and experienced shooting staff, he was appointed as the assistant director to Lo Wei. Furthermore, he had assisted Bruce Lee in shooting his debut "Way of The Dragon" and his uncompleted "Game of Death." He was not only Bruce's right-hand man but also a good friend of Bruce. Below is Ricky Chik’s short memoir of Bruce. It was republished in “Chinese Wushu” magazine in the July 2002 issue.

Assistant Director of “WOTD” – Ricky Chik Remembers Bruce Lee
I got to know Bruce when I was in filming "The Big Boss" in Thailand. Soon after returning to Hong Kong, we worked together in "Fist of Fury." After eight months of working together, we got along very well and became good friends. In my impression, Bruce was a honest, straightforward and smart person. He had lots of enthusiasms and hopes towards movies. Also, he was so responsible at work that he sometimes almost forgot to eat and rest. I deeply feel that he had an ambition to be a good director and in making good movies. Soon, there was news of Bruce going to shoot a new film which he would write and direct called "Way of The Dragon" just as I had expected. When I received the order from a senior manager to assist Bruce (as assistant director) in making this film, I was nervous yet excited. I thought this was the first time Bruce became the director and this movie was also the debut of his "Concord Production Company," hence, the responsibility was huge and I did not know whether we could work along together.

The next day, I went to meet Bruce with an uneasy and tensed mind. Bruce patted my shoulder and sincerely said: "Ah Cheong, calm down! We would discuss and consult each other and then make a good movie!" "Alright!" I held his hand and felt a bit at ease and both of us smiled with exicitement. Bruce and I locked ourselves up in room and started off discussing and preparing the script. Although the audience were extremely fond of exciting action films but Bruce thought that if a movie is too accommodating to the taste of the audience, i.e. fighting for the sake of fighting, then, it would inevitably ended up in "fighting from the beginning till the end," which would definitely make the whole movie completely boring and tasteless. I agree with Bruce’s views and opinions. So, based on the story of the development and the role of the character, it would be in the form of comedy that served as the film's backdrop. Bruce was full of "tales" in his minds, especially those humorous, amusing and "weird" jokes. These were good comedy materials for enriching the script. As Bruce had been living is the United States for many years, his daily communication was all in English, so, it became a difficult task for him to write the script in Chinese out of the blue. However, this did not hinder his motivation in his work. He would use English to make up if he forgot how to write certain Chinese characters. As a result, the script for "Way of the Dragon" was often mixed with many English words.

After a few days of working, we finished the script with complete unity and a common understanding, which was necessary in our cooperation. Bruce then stood up, stretched himself and said: "Ah Cheong, I’ve never tried to sit for so long since I was born!" I couldn’t help but burst out my laughter. Creating a precedent in the Hong Kong film history, the “dragon" not only "cross the river" but it went overseas to Rome in its location shooting. Upon reaching Rome, Bruce put down his luggages and qucikly went scouting for filming locations. Rome is a great place with monuments everywhere and so that really made you don’t know how and what to choose. But Bruce was decisive in selecting all the locations based on the requirements of the script without any hesitation.

Later, the exterior filming crew team arrived in Rome and started shooting "Way of the Dragon." Every locations such as airport, Coliseum, fountains, gardens, streets and other public places were always filled with thousands and millions of visitors. So, we had to start shooting early in the morning every day while there was relatively sparse visitors then. We hastily filmed the long distance shots in accordance with the pre-portioned camera shots in the script and gradually filmed the close-ups. After a hard day’s work, Bruce and I would locked ourselves up in the hotel room, seriously preparing the work for the following day. Long-distance shot, mid-distance shot, close-up, dialogue, actions all had to be written beforehand and each of us was to hold a copy otherwise we would become visitors when we reached the filming locations.

One day, I jokingly asked him, “Hey, Bruce what is it like being a director?” Bruce sighed with relief and replied, “After his new appointment, this new director has to shoot locations in Rome, so, he daren’t be lazy.” As most of the exterior locations in Rome had been shot and the negatives had just been developed, we couldn’t wait but to rush to a local specimen studio to see our “product.” After viewing the "raw footage," both of us smiled because we were satisfied with what we saw on the screen. However, Bruce was not totally satisfied yet, instead, this gave him more inspirations and motivations. Upon returning to Hong Kong, he immediately engaged in the unfinished shooting sections. As the interior shots could be controlled by ourselves which saved all the restrictions and troubles which we faced during filming the exterior locations, hence, the filming atmosphere was more relaxed. However, we did not relaxed totally, especially Bruce, I really admire his drive.

We were still the same as before, every night preparing in advance for the tasks that were meant for the following day. While the rest of the crew were relaxing at their homes, Bruce was planning and designing the details of the choreography quietly in his study. He worked until very late at night and the next morning, he would drive his car back to the studio. He was always very polite to say “hello”, “Goodmorning” to the staff and workers in the studio without putting on any air.
Some people said: "Bruce is a person that couldn’t sit still." I said he was more like a non-stop machine. Why do I say that? Because at the shooting site, he not only directed, but also played, choregraphed actions. He would not miss any camera shots and would be extremely busy doing things here and there and sweating profusely at the same time. Even during the time for changing the filming lights, he would not take a break and sit still on a chair. Instead, he would be giving martial arts guidance and pointers to the people around him, or, he would be telling funny "adult jokes" which made those present at the site laughed. This really brought a lot of lively feelings to the busy working environment.

I knew Bruce studied philosophy and psychology in the United States. So, was that the reason that could help stimulate one's motivation and drive? I did not ask him, so I do not know the answer. After more than a month of continuous shooting, the film finally completed. Bruce asked: "Ah Cheong, do you think this movie which was shot with a “rush shooting” schedule was smooth?" I replied without any hesitation, "Needn’t ask, of course, it’s smoother than “straight flush!” The staff present also agreed with me.

"Bruce Lee crossed the borders to fish (even did the jobs of others)!" This was a joke made by the dubbing staff. The director’s job is supposed to give instructions when entering the dubbing room but Bruce was not the case. He always wanted to have hands-on. For instance, when dubbing the English dialogue for the Caucasians’ characters, a few foreigners were hired to do the dubbing. However, Bruce volunteered to dub for the Black’s character in the film. He said, "Speaking English is not difficult, but to fully express the mood and the feeling are not easy." Another instance was the day when dubbing the music for the movie, Bruce’s "fun’s addiction" got seizure, and he acted as the guest musician! Maybe, people might think that he just wanted to "have fun", but I do not think so. On the contrary, these showed his seriousness, boldness and strong drive in his working attitude.

In making "Way of the Dragon," I had a cordial working relationship and experience with Bruce. After this cooperation, it was natural for us to know and understand each other better. Some people would asked me, what does someone like Bruce who has already gained fame and fortune still crave for? As I understand, Bruce viewed "Superstar" and "Money" very lightly. He always said, "Ignore the word superstar, just give the amount of effort in return for the money people pay you.” From his words, we can appreciate his seriousness towards his career and his strictness towards his self-expectations.

Exercise and reading were Bruce Lee's only hobbies. He must run two miles a day apart from his busy filming schedule, even the storm and rain would not hinder his perseverance. For the remaining time, he would keep himself in his study, reading and writing stories as well as searching materials for new scripts. There is no other goals for him working so hard, but to make his favorite and quality movies. He also hoped his film would not only popular in Southeast Asia, but also it could enter the international market. I remember Bruce said to me, "Ah Cheong, Bruce Lee’s films will definitely enter the international market, it’s just a matter of time" Yes, indeed, Bruce was right, but unfortunately, his dream was realised only after he left this world.

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  • Bruce vs Ali - Leon on Aug 7, 2015, 10:32 AM
  • Re: Ricky Chik Remembers Bruce Lee - Nick Clarke on Aug 7, 2015, 11:12 AM
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