Jim Kelly Interview in Black Belt

Last month they re-ran an interview with Jim Kelly from 1976, I think.

"After this year I will be the no. 1 black star, and in three years, I'll be the no 1 worldwide box office champion, black or white. "
It didn't quite happen that way, which is actually too bad because the guy was great. I hear he went into pro tennis and did quite well.
He would have had a bigger film career but, well, he was too busy lookin' goood.

That guy should have had a TV series. He would have been perfect for a private detective series. Doesn't want to use a gun so he just kicks every ass he needs to.

I think he needed better management.

Man, you come right out of a comic book.

You'll have to pardon me if I can't accomodate everyone, I'm too tired.

He was also hyping up BJJ/GJJ in the mid-to-late 80's. Way ahead of his time.

I understand he was a professional tennis player for some time. Does anyone know how successful his career was?

Been practicing, huh?

The sceen where he worked those cops over in enter the dragon was one of the best bad scenes in a movie ever :)

Mr. Han: "...but it is defeat you must learn to deal with."

Williams: "Uh uh, when it comes, I wont even notice."

Mr. Han: "Oh? How so?"


Yeah, if Jim Kelly had the right representation and had taken the right scripts, he might have succeeeded in being a huge box office draw. But you have to remember it was a lot tougher for a black guy to be a leading man back then.

In fact, Aaron Spelling talked about doing some western show where Sammy Davis, jr. guest starred, and because Sammy was black he wasn't allowed to kill or even shoot the bad guys, because they were white. Didn't matter that they were the bad guys.

I think everyone has heard why David Carridine ended up with the lead in Kung Fu instead of Bruce Lee.

Which made for such a classic show. Stranger walks into town. He's wearing a buckskin outfit and has long, blond hair, and the first guy who sees him yells, "Hey, Chinaman!"


I think America's attitude was symbolized nicely in Enter the Dragon when the white cop said, "Look, this jig's got himself a passport!"

If you haven't seen "Badasss", Mario Van Peebles movie about what his dad went through to make "Sweet Sweetback's Badass Song" go check it out.

If Melvin Van Peebles had wanted to make another movie like Watermelon Man, the studio would have given him a very nice budget. But Melvin wanted to make a movie about a strong black man who took on some crooked cops and that was just not allowed back then.

And I think that was one of Jim Kelly's biggest obstacles. Also shows how ballsy Bruce Lee was to put Kelly in Enter the Dragon in that role and have him beat up two white cops.

 So Kelly ended up making Black Belt Jones and a couple other blacksploitation flicks. He probably could have taken some supporting roles, but he wanted to play leads.

If he'd been able to hook up with the right script, he might well have become a huge box office star. But he was a decade early for the roles he should have been doing.   

The theme song from Black Belt Jones lives on, its a standard break dance ditty.

Huh...a human fly...

Bullshit, Mr. Han man!

Maaaaan, you come right out of a comic book (assumes karate stance).

That's a whole lot of if's.


Good points Johnny99. As a kid I remember my older brothers always making fun of the "Chinaman" comments in Kung-Fu.

That's a whole lot of if's.

  • True. Not like the industry wasnt way more prejudiced back then but the entertainment industry IS all about if's.

It's a shame he didn't make it huge but I think it's
time to track this dude down...NOW