Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Jim Kelly R.I.P.
Let the record show, when Channel Zero screened "Black Belt Jones" (1974) back in 2002 at the Coolidge Corner Theater we sold some seventeen tickets for this seminal martial-arts-blaxsploitation fusion. Ah but our rule of thumb has always been that the "moral imperative to screen certain films is in no way conditioned by said film's potential box office". Suffice to say, we live up to this dictum every time we do a screening. Ah but Jim Kelly was Zen, he had Muhammad Ali's insolent bravado and the martial arts skills to back it all up. Of all the Bruce-Lee Successor-Wannabees (a eclectic assortment that starts with George Lazenby and ends next to Bruce Li) Kelly was probably the most credible. But after a mere five films he gave up on Hollywood took up professional tennis and wrapped himself in such comforting obscurity that rumors of homelessness dogged him for years. Its like he found out that "being Bruce Lee" was a fruitless ambition, my Ghod Robert Clouse must have wept. Bruce Lee though, (who was Zen like yuh read about) would have understood. In fact I myself I had to buttonhole Kelly's former costar Gloria Hendry at a con in East Rutherford New Jersey who assured me Jim was alive and well, reading scripts and turning everything down with a merry smile. Maybe word got back in him, a few years later, there was Jim Kelly at Chiller Theatre in New Jersey cheerily signing autographs. After all being Zen doesn't me you have tolerate rumors of mendicancy. Alas now too young (a mere sixty seven) Jim Kelly is dead....if there is an afterlife organized on principles of Justice then Jim Kelly and Bruce Lee are bowing to one another in the Squared Circle.