Bruce Lee Plays Ping Pong With Nunchucks — The Truth Revealed!


by: Garr Ovard    Profile     Share: bruce lee plays ping pong
Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bruce Lee (left) completing a roundhouse kick as he pelts a ping pong ball into oblivion with his nunchucks. Photo: Still from video. All copyrights belong to their respective owners.

First of all, you may be wondering what an article about Bruce Lee playing ping pong with nunchucks is doing on a kids books site. There are 2 reasons. One, what kid wouldn’t love to see a video of Bruce Lee playing ping pong with nunchucks? Two, I wrote this article long before I re-branded my site to focus on kids books, and I didn’t want to disappoint all of my readers who have linked to this page. Now for the fun stuff…

I seriously thought I’d seen it all. Then a friend of mine shared this video on Facebook. Seriously, nunchucks? If you’ve never seen Bruce Lee then you need to watch this video right now. If you have seen Bruce Lee then you’ll probably laugh and shake your head as you watch him effortlessly whack ping pong balls with nunchucks — not to mention the fact that his TWO opponents are freakishly good at ping pong. Amazing.

PART OF THE TRUTH
Now that you’ve been blown away I can tell you part of the truth. This video is a promotional video made to promote the Nokia N96 Bruce Lee edition phone, a $1,290 mobile device — approximately 8,788 Chinese yuan — available only in Hong Kong and China. Apparently it’s been a very successful viral campaign.

Nokia N96 Bruce Lee Edition Mobile Phone
Nokia N96 Bruce Lee Edition Mobile Phone. Photo

Bruce Lee Mobile Phone Accessories
Bruce Lee Mobile Phone Accessories. Photo

Countless blogs and Websites, including the official Nokia blog, are trying to figure out if this is an actual video of Bruce Lee. But all the author of the post on the official Nokia blog has to say is “Oh, and, the speculation since this was released has been rife as to whether or not the video is real, faked using CGI or faked using a Bruce Lee impersonator. We don’t know either, but we’ll endeavor to find out.”

Is it Bruce or not? Some Bruce Lee fans swear this is not Bruce Lee because his body proportions are not correct and he didn’t do his famous 1 inch punch. Others say it’s definitely the “Little Dragon” and that Nokia inserted digital footage of the master himself into the video. There’s even a “Making of the Bruce Lee Ping Pong” video on YouTube that disappoints. It shows nothing of the making of the video but commentary from a random actor who says inserting Bruce Lee into campaigns like this only adds to his legacy. As of this writing there is nothing on snopes.com except debate.

My Quest for Truth
So what is one to do when even the source is shrouded in secrecy? I decided to do what I hadn’t seen anyone else do.

First I used Google to translate “Bruce Lee” into simplified Chinese.

Bruce Lee in simplified Chinese = 李小龙

Next, armed with modern linguistic translation power I went to the Chinese Nokia Website (via Google’s translator) and entered the Chinese characters into the the search bar. Nothing. However, searching for “N96” in English produced the non-Bruce Lee phone product page, which did not translate very well since most of the characters were graphics.

Hunt Down the Art Director
Since the official Nokia bloggers wouldn’t fess up, the original Flash site is now nothing but a junk site, and the Internet Wayback machine offered nothing but blank screens, I had no choice but to find the agency that created the viral in the first place. Why hadn’t I thought of that before? It seemed like such an obvious solution.

Bingo.

Created by JWT Beijing, the Bruce Lee Ping Pong viral ad was an instant success. After only 24 hours the 10 second teaser had generated 700,000 views. 2 days later the full spot ran with a product shot and URL directing people to a microsite where they could order the limited edition phone.

In this interview with Agency.Asia, Chief Creative Officer, Polly Chu, gracefully dodges Agency.Asia’s attempt to elicit information as to whether the ad was fake. But she finally had this to say:

“Yes, we discussed with the director how to make it look like a never-seen-before secret footage of Bruce Lee. The director took a great effort to study Bruce Lee and found the right talent. We used an up and coming local Chinese director whose passion could be seen in every second of the film.”

So now you’ve heard it straight from the Chief Creative Officer. They were trying to make it look like something it wasn’t; and, after studying Bruce Lee, they found the “right talent”.

Clearly this is a brilliant example of viral creative — interesting enough to spread like wildfire and controversial enough to stir passionate debate among its viewers.

Well done JWT Beijing.


Buy these great Bruce Lee products from Amazon.com:

The Warrior Within : The Philosophies of Bruce Lee

Letters of the Dragon (Bruce Lee Library)

Bruce Lee: The Celebrated Life of the Golden Dragon (Bruce Lee Library)











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Garr Ovard
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Well-written and beautifully illustrated books have the power to move and inspire their readers. I’ve always enjoyed reading great kids books. My goal with zerzle* is to share as many of the best kids books I can find with as many people as possible.

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