A video allegedly shows Bruce Lee playing ping pong against two men while using nunchucks instead of paddles. Is this video real or fake?
It’s not real.
The video, which has circulated on social media regularly since late 2012, was a promotional spot created in 2008 by Nokia for a limited edition Bruce Lee cell phone. An actor played the part of Bruce Lee.
The award-winning commercial was produced by JWT Shanghai, and was created to look as if it were filmed back in the late 1960s or early 1970s. A Bruce Lee lookalike was used. The three men playing ping pong mimicked the motions of an actual game, but did not actually use a ping pong ball. A “ball” was edited into the film after the fact. At first we see “Lee” beating a single opponent, then taking on two opponents at the same time. There is also video of “Lee” lighting a cigarette – with his nunchaku (“nunchucks”) – as it dangles from another man’s mouth.
JWT Beijing was featured on agency.asia and was asked about the spot. Creative officer Polly Chu noted:
“Effective viral relies on an idea that is ‘very’ – very amazing, very funny, very disgusting, or very rude etc. Only when people find it interesting enough, they will spend time with it and share it to others. That makes it ‘viral’.
Bruce Lee had ‘very’ amazing skills and we knew we had to be true to the legend. Thankfully, we also have a ‘very’ open-minded client who champions and knows the value of great creative.”
Originally, only a 10-second teaser video teaser was released, and it amassed over 700,000 views in the first 24 hours. It was only after the full version of the spot was released that it became apparent that it was merely an advertisement for a limited edition Bruce Lee phone.
It’s interesting to note that the commercial only showed the phone for a few seconds at the very end.
Here are the credits for the spot as given in the interview.
Chief Creative Officer: Polly Chu
Creative Director: Shankun Sun
Copywriter: Wei Huang
Art Director: Dechun Qiu
Agency Producer: Lin Ma
Account Executive: Daniel Ingall
Director: Jingjing Zhu
Production House: JQK Production
Cinematographer: Jingjing Zhu
Producer: Jade Tang
Google Trends History
The chart below shows the search history for “Bruce Lee Ping Pong” and it shows several instances in which the phrase received heavy Google searches, including November 2012 and July 2013.
The video of Bruce Lee playing ping pong with nunchucks was a television commercial created in 2008 by Nokia for a limited edition Bruce Lee cell phone.
Updated December 20, 2015
Originally published November 2012