Yesterday once more: The Green Hornet

31 01 2011

My first encounters with the masked superhero wannabe, the Green Hornet, and his trusty (and more able) sidekick Kato, had been during a re-run of the 1960s television series which starred Van Williams as the title character, and non other than the still popular Bruce Lee, as Kato and accompanied by a jazzed up version of The Flight of the Bumblebee. The re-runs that I could remember catching were screened over 1979 and 1980, on Tuesday evenings at 7, during a time when I was completing my secondary schooling, when I should really have been distracted by the preparations that I needed to make for the finishing examinations, then by the antics of the two masked men over half an hours of evening television, once a week before the Malay news came on.

There was actually a lot more to distract us during those days, despite the apparent lack of gadgetry and the wired-up world that keeps our young connected these days. It was exciting times brought about by gyrations inspired by the falsettos of Bee Gees and John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and with Michael Jackson going Off The Wall, amongst other things, as bell bottoms and butterfly collars gave way to pleated pants. It was a time when perhaps the childhood fascination with the superheroes in tights had waned to the extent that the die-cast Batmobile that I had held on to since I was five, with it’s paintwork chipped and damaged from the many occasions that it answered the call of duty in its many years of service it provided, went out with the trash (I now wish I had kept it). Despite that, the Green Hornet, when it remade an appearance, somehow drew us schoolboys to it. Perhaps it was it chance to watch the exploits of a Bruce Lee that had remained a cult hero to many of us, in a language that wasn’t alien to many of my friends, or perhaps it was it cool 1965 Chrysler Imperial known as the Black Beauty that caught our attention, but it had an effect on us that was similar to watching Erik Estrada in CHiPs, so much so that it often came up as a hot topic of conversation on the long bus journeys that we took to school.

I got to re-live my youth watching the Green Hornet courtesy of Domino's Pizza. I was an avid follower of the re-run of the television series screened on Tuesdays at 7pm in 1979 and 1980.

With that in mind, I approached a preview of the newly released remake of the Green Hornet in 3D, courtesy of Domino’s Pizza, with a bit of hesitation. This time around, the Green Hornet had at his disposal, not just a few clones of the Black Beauty, but with a garage full of cool automobiles that would have any one watching drooling, not that the female lead Cameron Diaz, who plays Lenore Case the secretary to the lead character, Britt Reid, a.k.a. the Green Hornet, wouldn’t. In this version, we do not just have the marvels of technology to keep our eyes glued to the screen, but also the silliness of Britt Reid’s character played by Seth Rogen and also of the bad guy, Chudnowsky (Christoph Waltz) who comes across as one who is as much as an narcissistic egomaniac as Britt Reid is, adding to the amusement. My favourite character in the 1960s television series, Kato, is played by the sullen Jay Chou, who somehow seems to mumble through some of his lines with good effect. Overall, watching it in 3D doesn’t seem to have made the experience any more spectacular, even with the generous dose of destruction that the audience is provided with, and I didn’t really think that Seth Rogen did justice to the character, but I guess audiences would still be drawn to the kick-the-bad-guy’s-ass theme, the car-chases to which Kato puts the accessories of the Black Beauty to good use, and the glass breaking and explosive sequences that is always popular with audiences. However, despite having reservations about Seth Rogen portrayal of of the masked Superhero wannabe and the lack of the spectacular, I must admit that not only I wasn’t disappointed with Green Hornet 3D, I did actually enjoy watching it as much as I did the television series.