AMC profiles notable 'warrior'

Fans of martial arts and movie history should pounce on the thoughtful, if curiously old-fashioned, documentary "Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey," (9 p.m., AMC). Lee, who died at age 32 in 1973, introduced Americans to new and innovative Asian martial arts techniques and opened up the west to Hong Kong's burgeoning film industry.

"Warrior" includes vintage clips of Lee's early performances, including his role as Kato in the 1965 television series "The Green Hornet." By then, Lee had already made a name for himself with his innovative martial arts philosophy called Jeet Kune Do, translated as "the way of the intercepting fist." Lee's followers and friends would eventually include Steve McQueen, Roman Polanski, James Coburn and NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who speaks eloquently here of Lee's teaching and influence. Lee's prize students were Chuck Norris and Mike Stone. Lee's stunt double in "Fists of Fury" and "Enter the Dragon" was an up-and-comer named Jackie Chan.

Lee's popularity grew in the 1960s and '70s, when millions in the West were opening up to Eastern philosophies and mysticism. That was also the era of Vietnam War, a time when some attitudes toward "Orientals" were less than generous. While Hollywood producers liked Lee's idea for a martial arts television series, they did not believe that an Asian lead would appeal to American audiences. David Carradine later starred in "Kung Fu," and Lee received no credit or compensation for his idea.

Disappointed, but not surprised by Hollywood attitudes, Lee went back to Hong Kong to make a series of martial arts movies, including the legendary "Enter the Dragon." Produced for less than $600,000 in 1973, "Dragon" has made more than $600 million to date.

"Warrior" also includes never-before-seen footage from "Game of Death," the film Lee was making at the time of his death. Sadly, the man who could perform push-ups using only his thumb was no match for a little pill. Lee died of "hyper-sensitivity" to a pain reliever he had taken for a simple headache.

� Host Kevin Brauch spans the globe in search of potent adult libations on the new weekly series "The Thirsty Traveler," (9:30 p.m., Food Network). Brauch's weekly pub crawls take him from California's Sonoma Valley wine country to Belgium's beer halls and Scotland's Highlands, home to the world's most famous whiskeys. Tonight's premiere episode opens in the Champagne region of France.

� "Boomtown" on "P.O.V.," (9 p.m., PBS) looks at members of Washington State's Suquamish Indian Nation, who have an annual tradition of selling Fourth of July fireworks to supplement their income.

Tonight's other highlights

� Jack Ford welcomes Jim Gray and Dan Le Batard on the debut of "Sports Reporters II," (6:30 p.m., ESPN) a weekly sports discussion show.

� Ali Landry is host to back-to-back episodes of "Spy TV," (7 p.m., NBC).

� A spell forces the gang to burst into song and share its inner feelings in this repeat of the clever musical episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," (7 p.m., UPN). You don't have to like "Buffy" to appreciate this special performance. The series' creator, Josh Whedon, wrote the songs.

� The new documentary series "The Men Who Made the Movies," (7 p.m., Turner Classic Movies) profiles hard-boiled director Sam Fuller. Fuller's intense B-movie classic "Shock Corridor," (8 p.m.) follows.

Cult choice

A small boy befriends a 50-foot-robot visitor in the 1999 feature-length cartoon "Iron Giant," (6 p.m., Cartoon Network). The network will repeat this critically acclaimed film for 24 hours, concluding 6 p.m., Wednesday. Critics loved this movie, but it never found an audience in movie theaters.


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