For the last handful of weeks,I’ve been very slow at catching up with the various celebrities that have passed away(such as the likes of Jean Stapleton[Edith Bynker],James Gandolfini[Tony Soprano],Filipno genre filmmaker Eddie Romero,Esther Williams,martial arts actor/filmmaker Lau Kar Keung,and genre writer Richard Matheson),but now it hits me hard to know that we’ve now lost martial arts great Jim Kelly at the age of 67.
During his regin as the black king of martial arts,Jim Kelly started his film career with MELINDA,which landed him a major role in ENTER THE DRAGON,and blossomed onward to the likes of BLACK BELT JONES,HOT POTATO,THREE THE HARD WAY(the first of three films with Fred Williamson and Jim Brown),BLACK SAMURAI(the first of two films with Al Adamson),ONE DOWN…TWO TO GO(the final Kelly/Williamson/Brown team-uo,with Richard Roundtree joining the pack),TAKE A HARD RIDE,and DEATH DIMENSION(a.k.a.:ICY DEATH,FREEZE ZONE,THE KILL FACTOR,BLACK ELIMINATOR,DEATH DIMENSIONS,and DEAD DIMENSIONS)and small roles in STRANGLEHOLD(and its alternate Filipino market version ULTIMATUM) and AFRO NINJA(his final film).
He spent the majority of his post-film career in training in various other sports such as judo and boxing,and even had a career in golf,and was almost casted in the wild Steven Seagal DTV actioneer THE BELLY OF THE BEAST,and was doing a stint as a film convention regular guest prior to his passing.
Jim Kelly will deinitely be missed,and his impact upon the martial arts world(both on-screen and off-screen) will still be heavily felt upon.
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