CGI Bruce Lee stars in Johnnie Walker commercial

Bruce Lee was brought back to life in a new ad for Johnnie Walker Blue. Some are saying it’s offensive, especially considering Bruce Lee didn’t drink, but the spirit of the ad is in the right place.

It’s not surprising that people would complain about using Bruce Lee to sell a product. Using a hero to hock $170 whisky will certainly tug at the sensibilities of those who revere him. This helped me turn the corner and accept it for the inspiring piece of work that it is: “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.” If it’s OK with the man’s daughter, it’s OK with me. After that I was free to recognize the incredible work that went into creating a completely CGI Bruce Lee.

I can’t explain it any better than director Joseph Kahn did, so here are his latest words about the controversy of appropriateness.

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.