Jim Kelly, martial artist, actor, and one of the coolest dudes of the 1970’s died this Saturday of cancer at age 67. Although he starred in a handful of films, including fantastically 70’s style films such as Black Belt Jones, Three The Hard Way, and Black Samurai, he’s best known as Williams from Enter The Dragon.
Growing up, I was obsessed with martial arts films. Naturally, Bruce Lee was a God as far as I was concerned, and many of his films were at the forefront of my obsession. Enter The Dragon is of course the seminal classic that created an absolute wave of popularity for all things martial arts in the World. In the film, Kelly plays Williams, an activist who takes 0% shit from people and does things their way even less. When faced with the big-bad man, Han, he was talkin’ shit and reveling in defiance still. “Man, you come right out of a comic book” he states before making short work of Han’s guards. Of course, he doesn’t survive for much long after that, but still the template was created. He was a total bad-ass that helped make the film both stand out, and a lot of fun.
I mean, c’mon, he even makes a tennis racket look menacing.
Myself, and everyone at Renegade Cinema sends out their condolences to Jim Kelly’s friends & family. They can definitely take solace in the fact he was an original, and helped to create a classic.