March 6, 1928|
|Died||February 4, 1997
Ashland, Oregon, USA
|Occupation||Film director, film producer|
Robert Clouse (March 6, 1928 – February 4, 1997) was an American film director and producer, known primarily for his work in the action/adventure and martial arts genres. He died on February 4, 1997 in Oregon of kidney failure.
Clouse directed Bruce Lee in Lee's only English-speaking starring role, 1973's Enter the Dragon. After Lee's death, Clouse attempted to finish Lee's incomplete film Game of Death and released it in 1978 with a new storyline and cast. Other projects included Jim Kelly's Black Belt Jones (1974), Darker than Amber (1970), China O'Brien (starring Cynthia Rothrock) (1990), Jackie Chan's The Big Brawl (1980), Gymkata (1985), The Ultimate Warrior (1975) and many others.
Before becoming a director, Clouse worked as a still photographer for CBS Television and served in the military. He was also completely deaf, relying on assistant directors later on in his career to verify that actors had delivered their lines correctly.
Short films (1960s)
Clouse was also nominated, twice, for an Oscar for his short films The Legend of Jimmy Blue Eyes (1964) (starring Garland Thompson as the title character as well as Donald Elson as "The Devil") and The Cadillac (1962), starring Alex Montoya. At the 1964 Cannes Film Festival, Clouse's film The Legend of Jimmy Blue Eyes was also nominated for the Palme d'Or for Best Short Film. For The Legend of Jimmy Blue Eyes, Clouse was also awarded a Golden Globe and an award at the Edinburgh Film Festival.
Clouse made his feature directorial debut with Darker Than Amber (1970) (based off the John D. MacDonald novel of the same name) and starring Rod Taylor as the protagonist, Travis McGee. He then followed that film with Dreams of Glass (1970) (which he also wrote and which is also notable for being Danny DeVito's first film role), a film which was also completed in the same year, 1970.
In 1971, Clouse directed an episode of the 70s action-crime TV show Ironside entitled "Gentle Oaks" (1971). Ironside also featured Bruce Lee as Leon Soo, a Karate/Aikido/Judo instructor in a martial arts school (in the episode "Tagged for Murder" (1967)), an icon that Clouse would collaborate with later on for much of his career. In 1973, Clouse directed Enter the Dragon. After that film, Clouse directed Black Belt Jones (1974).
The rest of the 1970s for Clouse would yield the films Golden Needles (1974) starring Joe Don Baker, The Ultimate Warrior (1975) (director and screenwriter), a post-apocalyptic sci-fi film starring Yul Brynner and Max Von Sydow, The Pack (1977) (director and screenwriter) also starring Joe Don Baker, The Amsterdam Kill (1977) (director and screenwriter) starring Robert Mitchum, Leslie Nielsen and Keye Luke, Game of Death (1978), The London Connection (1979), and two episodes of the TV show Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color: specifically, "The Kids Know Too Much" (1980) and "The Omega Connection" (1979).
Enter The Dragon
In 1973, Clouse collaborated with Bruce Lee and directed his most iconic, immortal and memorable film, Enter the Dragon (1973), also working with Jim Kelly for the first time, which he would collaborate again with in his following film, Black Belt Jones (1974). Enter the Dragon was well-received by critics upon its release, grossed an estimated $25,000,000 in North America, and an estimated $90,000,000 worldwide on a tight budget of just $850,000. It was also considered by many as one of the best films of 1973. In 1999, Enter the Dragon has grossed more than $200,000,000 worldwide and in 2004, Enter the Dragon was deemed "culturally significant" in the United States and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Clouse would collaborate with several actors from Enter the Dragon on his later films, including Bruce Lee (at least archival footage of Bruce Lee, on Game of Death (1978)), Jim Kelly on Black Belt Jones (1974), Robert Wall on both Game of Death (1978)) and Black Belt Jones (1974), Keye Luke (who provided the voice of Mr. Han in Enter the Dragon (1973)) in The Amsterdam Kill (1977), and Bolo Yeung in his last film, Ironheart (1992).
Game of Death
In 1978, Clouse re-teamed with Bruce Lee again for Game of Death (1978) (director and screenwriter), having to finish the footage in creative ways after Lee's death. For that film, Clouse made a trip to Hong Kong, where Golden Harvest's Raymond Chow hired him in order to direct a "comeback" film for Bruce Lee, despite the fact that Lee had died in 1973, five years earlier. Clouse was provided the incomplete footage from Bruce Lee's original version of Game of Death that had already been filmed, but ultimately made the creative decision to use a small portion of that footage, primarily due to the fact that the film's plot and story had been re-done many times in a multitude of Hong Kong cinema films after Lee's passing. By enlisting some of Lee's friends including Bob Wall and Sammo Hung, editing in footage from other Bruce Lee movies (as well as using the originally shot Game of Death footage), and relying on a number of Bruce Lee stand-ins and look-alikes, Clouse was able to make the film.
During the 1980s, Clouse directed a TV movie entitled The Kids Who Knew Too Much (1980) (based on one of the episodes he directed for the TV show, Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color) and decided to take a chance with a rising young star from Asia named Jackie Chan for The Big Brawl (1980) (director and screenwriter), which Chan stated was a failure because he didn't get a chance to direct the action scenes the way he wanted to.
Clouse also directed in the 80s Force: Five (1981) (which he also wrote), starring Benny "The Jet" Urquidez, heavyweight boxing champion Joe Lewis, Grandmaster Bong Soo Han (the "Father of Hapkido"), Richard Norton, Sonny Barnes and Amanda Wyss. He followed that film with Deadly Eyes (1982) and also directed an episode of the 80s ninja TV show The Master - starring Lee van Cleef, Sho Kosugi and Timothy Van Patten - entitled "Max" (1984). Clouse's last film of the 80s was the gymnastics/martial arts cult classic Gymkata (1985).
In the 1990s, his final decade of directing films, Clouse helmed China O'Brien (1990) (starring Cynthia Rothrock), and its direct-to-video sequel, China O'Brien II (1990) (also with Rothrock). Clouse's final film was Ironheart (1992), a vehicle for Bolo Yeung, and which was created as a showcase for the film's producer, Britton K. Lee.
Clouse was one of the directors of the television series The Master, which was broadcast in 1984 and featured a ninja called "Okasa", a recurring character played by Sho Kosugi. The episode of The Master he directed was entitled "Max" (1984). Clouse also directed episodes of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color in the late 70s and early 80s - "The Kids Know Too Much" (1980) and "The Omega Connection" (1979). In the 70s, he also directed an episode of Ironside entitled "Gentle Oaks" (1971).
Clouse was a Writer-Director and wrote the screenplay (or story) for most of his films, including Dreams of Glass (1970), The Ultimate Warrior (1975), The Pack (1977), The Amsterdam Kill (1977), Game of Death (1978) (also credited as "Jan Spears"), The Big Brawl (1980), Force: Five (1981), China O'Brien (1990) and China O'Brien II (1990).
Clouse also wrote the screenplay for the Steven Spielberg directed TV movie, Something Evil (1972). He also wrote the screenplay for the film Happy Mother's Day, Love George (1973), directed by Darren McGavin and starring Patricia Neal, Cloris Leachman and a young Ron Howard.
Books (Bruce Lee biography)
Clouse also wrote and published a biography on Bruce Lee, entitled Bruce Lee: The Biography which was published in 1989 by Unique Publications. The book's description recites "Finally, the truth can be told about Bruce Lee's remarkable life and tragic death. Close personal friend and director of Bruce's greatest movie, Robert Clouse, reveals his first-hand memories of Bruce and includes interviews with Bruce's family, friends and colleagues in order to tell us the true story of how Bruce lived and died. Also included are numerous photos, many never before made available to the public." The book was also used as one of the source materials for Rob Cohen's film, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993).
An excerpt from the book, in Clouse's voice, reads:
"My direct contact with Bruce Lee occurred between November 1972 and June 1973 when I started pre-production of the film Enter The Dragon and through the post-production period when Bruce came to the Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank, Calif., to complete some dubbing of dialogue that had been poorly recorded in Hong Kong. Many of the people I interviewed for this book I had known from that time, but many others I met for the first time during research of the elusive Bruce Lee. My perceptions of Bruce were dented and bent from what I knew about him; others were destroyed. Piecing together the portrait is imprecise, but the attempt goes on."
- "Robert Clouse". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "Bruce Lee Lives!". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-03.
- "Robert Clouse". IMDb. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "Review: China O’Brien (1990) - Kiai-Kick!". Kiai-Kick!. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "CINEMA RETRO'S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH BRADFORD DILLMAN - Celebrating Films of the 1960s & 1970s". Cinemaretro.com. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "Robert Clouse". IMDb. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "The Irate, Slobberknockin’ Collision In ‘Darker Than Amber’". Drafthouse Films. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "Greatest Films of 1973". Filmsite.org. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "The Gladiator BRUCE LEE". TIME.com. 14 June 1999. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- "National Film Registry Titles of the US Library of Congress". Filmsite.org. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
- Jackie Chan, Jeff Yang, I am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action (autobiography).
- "Amazon.com: Bruce Lee: The Biography (9780865681330): Robert Clouse: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 29 October 2014.