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Find out about Aarif Lee in Bruce Lee, My Brother!

By InCinemas  /  21 Sep 2011 (Wednesday)
Source: Celestial Pictures
Huge thanks to Celestial Pictures, we have all the great pictures of Aarif Lee in the well-known kung-fu action movie Bruce Lee, My Brother! Best of all, you can also find an exchange of conversation with Aarif Lee below! Aarif will be sharing much of his thoughts and his involvement in Bruce Lee, My Brother!

[Additional Note]
Furthermore, as part of the Celestial Movies' September Kung Fu Carnival, you'll be able to watch BRUCE LEE, MY BROTHER on Starhub Channel 868 this coming Saturday 9pm!
 24 September, 9pm Bruce Lee, My Brother

Click to view Celestial Movies October Highlights!

You may also be interested in its movie trailer and our InCinemas review of the movie.

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Q: When in your life did you hear of Bruce Lee and what were your thoughts on
him growing up in Hong Kong?
Aarif Lee: Being a child of the 80's, I wasn't that familiar with Bruce Lee as a child to be frank. But here's the thing. No matter where you're from, how old you are, whether you're familiar with martial arts or not, there is one thing you know for a fact when you hear the name 'Bruce Lee' - he can fight. This notion was planted in my brain from as far back as I remember and I've met many others who feel the same.

Q: How did you get the part of playing Bruce Lee for this Movie?
Aarif: The producers of the film (Manfred Wong and Robert Lee) watched my debut performance in 'Echoes of the rainbow' and felt that I resembled the young Bruce Lee.

Q: What u feel about playing a world martial arts/movie Icon?
Aarif: Although I felt extremely honoured, I undoubtedly felt a sense responsibility. However, I had the full support of the Lee family and that took a lot of the pressure off.

Q: Did you have any formal Martial arts training before you made this movie? 
Aarif: Yes. I was trained in basic Wing Chun and free fighting.
Q: If so, what style and what did you like about the Martial arts?
Aarif: I read Physics at university so I naturally have an interest in the dynamics and mechanics behind martial arts. Additionally, being a musician I enjoy experiencing the inherit 'rhythm' in performing the martial arts.

Q: Who was your main trainer for this movie and did you find the Wing Chun system hard or difficult to learn?
Aarif: The main trainer and stunt coordinator for the film is veteran action star Ka Lok Chin. Wing Chun training was provided by Sifu Wen. The Wing Chun system was indeed challenging to learn simply because it is such a subtle and refined system. Being able to react quickly enough at such close distances while staying true to the system is really quite a tall order.

Q: Once you had made the movie had your understanding of Bruce Lee improved?
A: Definitely. Through weekly meetings with Robert Lee, reading up materials he wrote, looking up video clips of Bruce online, I truly felt that I had my eyes opened. I actually still live my everyday life based on the quote "Be water my friend".

Q: Why do you think Bruce Lee still has this world appeal, in essence what makes him still so popular?
Aarif: What he represented was simply too strong to be replaced. To me it wasn't merely about martial arts and 'Chinese spirit'. It was perseverance, dedication, talent and most importantly - bravery. These are all qualities that are present in great people of the past and present. Something that transcends culture and time.

Q: You studied in England for three years, how did you find this country and are passion for Bruce Lee?
Aarif: I love London very much and am actually coming back for another movie project soon. I strongly remember a few of my fellow Physics colleagues (non-Chinese), who were huge Bruce Lee fans. That was inspiring to me.

Q: Did you get any good stories or ideas about Bruce Lee from his brother Robert
or his sister Phobe?
Aarif: We actually had weekly meetings with Robert before the shoot started. I remember Robert telling me about Bruce punching a wooden stool consistently during casual conversation. He would do that on a regular basis. Martial arts was a part of him and he wouldn't miss any opportunity to refine his art. Amazing.
Q: Please feel free to enlighten with any anecdotes?
Aarif: One day after filming Robert and I played this game that he and Bruce used to play. We'd take turns punching each other’s hands - very much like in typical boxing training. Only the receiver can pull his hand away. A test of reaction speed and punching speed. Results are as follows: number of times I was able hit Robert's hand before he retracted- 2/10. Vice versa: 9/10. Runs in the family..

Q: When playing Bruce was there anything you used or focused on to stay in character?
Aarif: Not really, I started to get in character around 2 months before shooting, it was a gradual process. I stayed in role pretty much throughout the entire filming process. Off and on screen.

Q: Do feel you will make any more Bruce Lee movies about his life and Legend?
Aarif: It's very hard to say. Let's see where fate takes me!

Q: How did Bruce Lee’s family react to the final cut of the film?
Aarif: Phoebe Lee actually came up to me misty eyed, held my hand and said "thank you". She was the closest to Bruce and so it was a very touching moment for me.

Q: What do think this movie gives to the audience about the life of Bruce Lee that has not been already covered?
Aarif: Mainly about his youth, friends and his family. It's nice to know about the hero's early life and the relationships that influenced him to become who he was.

Q: There are some pretty perilous looking action scenes in the film, particularly on the rooftop. Did you run into any problems during shooting?
Aarif: The rooftop set was festooned with rusted sheets of corrugated iron. I ended up slicing the flesh just below my right pinky on the 1st day of shooting on that set and ended up filming the rest of the 3 days with 5 stitches in my right hand… Not exactly the most comfortable experience. I later found out that Bruce had a similar experience and that he too had stitches on his right hand due to some filming accident.

Q: Had you realised that your first album, Starting Today, released on November 27th, 2009, was Bruce Lee’s 69th Birthday?
Aarif: Only until we started filming. I do feel a certain karma with Bruce after this film.
An interesting similarity would be that both of us had injured our right hand during filiming and ended up having a few stitches.

Q: Now have played Bruce Lee you will always be remembered for this role how do you feel about this?
Aarif: It's a very special feeling. I feel very honoured to have been able to play Bruce Lee and I hope I did him justice.

Q: Having worked with seasoned veteran filmmakers like Mabel Cheung and Alex Law and new kids on the block (Derek Kwok), how has this felt during your early film career?
Aarif: It's still a little surreal. The more I venture on this journey the more I appreciate Mabel and Alex's work. They were the perfect duo to start me off. And the beauty is it was only perfect because I didn't know it was. As for Derek, I think he's a very talented guy and we share many interests. I would have liked to work with him more on our first film. Hopefully that opportunity will come about again in the future.

Q: Have you encountered distinctly different directing styles and was able to draw inspiration from the veterans and a new director like Derek?
Definitely. I've been lucky in a sense because I get along with all the directors I've worked with so far and I find that is the most important thing. So no matter what styles were applied to me, I felt very comfortable on set and was willing to express my role fully.

Q: Manfred Wong and Raymond Yip are both credited as directors on Bruce Lee, My Brother, how did this shared directing responsibility work and feel?
Aarif: Actually, most of the directing was done by Raymond Yip. Manfred Wong was more behind the scenes as more of a moral support to the project. I felt that this combination worked very well since I felt the 3 of us had a very similar vision for the Bruce Lee we wanted to portray.

Q: Likewise working with veteran actors like Tony Leung and Simon Yam who's on their 4th and 5th decades of working in the film business, what do you take away from your experience working with them?
Aarif: As much as you can! These men are more than just actors. They are like a the life-force of the film and have this amazing ability to motivate the entire project on and off set. They have taught me that this is extremely important because film is only great when every single member is driving at full force.

Q: The film has a strong focus on the family unit and friendship and is very much an ensemble piece, did this crossover to the set?
Aarif: Most definitely! Quite a few members of cast and I have become good friends as a result of this film which I am truly grateful for.

Q: Was there an awareness of the level of expectation a story like this brings and did it galvanise the cast and crew during production?

Aarif: Definitely. When I agreed to take part in this project I knew it was serious territory I was treading in. Without doubt there was a huge sense of responsibility and pressure on me since I was playing Bruce himself. That pressure soon became motivation and helped me overcome many obstacles I would have never dreamt of overcoming.

Q: So, did your opinion of Bruce Lee change while making the movie?
Aarif: Definitely. I learned that Bruce was so much more than just a fighter. His thinking was very forward for his time (probably due to his university education in Philosophy) and many of his words still stick with me today.

Q: Would you consider revisiting Bruce Lee territory further into your career, perhaps for a Game of Death remake?!
Aarif: If the opportunity comes and I receive the support of the Lee family, I wouldn't mind!

Q: What will we see you in next? Do you think we might see you perform more martial arts in future?
Definitely more martial arts, it's just too great to pass up!

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