Joseph Kahn and The Mill Channel Bruce Lee for Johnnie Walker
Resurrecting legends for advertising is a touchy business, mostly because fans consider it blasphemy when you screw with their perceptions of their hero. Say for instance, resurrecting a certain teetotaling martial arts master to sell Johnnie Walker Blue Label in China. The Mill worked closely with Lee’s daughter Shannon to complete the illusion, meticulously animating the 3D head by hand and integrating it with live action footage of Hong Kong actor and Bruce Lee lookalike Danny Chan Kwok-kwan.
The ad has polarized fans and the media: The South China Morning Post calls the ad a “Disgrace”
Read the directors thoughts below…
Joseph Kahn: “We got Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter, to come aboard and we really picked her brain to make sure that everything was accurate from look to soul. We wanted to be as respectful to the man and legend as we could.
“This spot isn’t about drinking, nor does Bruce Lee ever pitch, hold, talk about it. It’s a short inspirational film sponsored by Johnnie Walker. Those making comparisons of “water” to “alcohol” are literalists & wrong. Last thing alcohol wants to be is water. It’s a metaphor for life. It’s his metaphor in his actual words. I spent a year living and breathing this man, thinking about him every day. For me, it’s not an ad. It’s an exploration & celebration of him. This is a sculpture in a different medium, paid for by a different church. I stand behind it.
Client: Johnnie Walker Blue Label
Director: Joseph Kahn
Cinematographer: Christopher Probst
Agency: BBH, Johnny Tan Creative Director
Agency Producer: BBH, Krystie Koh
Line Producer: Merrilyn Lim, Gravity Films
Executive Producer HSI Productions: Kim Dellara
Music: Brain & Melissa
VFX: The Mill, London