8.15.2015

Bruce Lee and Jim Kelly wore Onitsuka Tiger

Your second, um...or fifth favorite blogger was this friggin' close to purchasing a yellow pair of Mexico 66's. The temptation to buy arose from my long having it wrongly in my big ol' head that these shoes, made by Onitsuka Tiger since the mid-1960s, were the sneakers that Bruce Lee had on his nimble feet in the film Game of Death. The shoes that Lee actually did have on added a stylish 'grounding element' to an iconic ensemble comprised of a sleek yellow and black striped bodysuit and color coordinated nunchakus.

And to anyone for whom the aforementioned imagery just happens to resonate, imagine what you'd do if you happened to see shoes like those on the feet of some anonymous soul as he perused the racks with his seeds at the comic book shop, or while he roamed the aisles at Trader Joe's with his wifey, or as he did Tai Chi exercises in the neighborhood park? You'd probably walk right over and give him a fist bump or a high five for very obviously following in the footsteps of the most badass man to ever put on a pair of yellow sneakers. Am I right?

Well, as fate would have it, I have recently come to learn–after re-watching Game of Death clips–that the shoes worn by Lee in the film were actually a different and, as yet, unknown brand, possibly of Chinese make. There is a similarity between that shoe and the Mexico 66, but the Onitsuka Tiger sneaker is a better-looking shoe.

Come to think of it, though, looking as nice and as unique as they do, a pair of yellow and black Mexico 66's would still probably trigger the Game of Death association just the same. I mean, when was the last time you saw yellow sneakers on somebody's feet? Well, other than Tarantino's Bruce Lee homage via Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, that is.

Lee, as it happens, did wear Onitsuka Tiger's during the filming of Enter the Dragon, albeit not on screen. His co-star Jim Kelly can, however, be seen wearing a pair during his "unorthodox...but effective" fighting match in the arena of the evil Mr. Han. Behind the scenes photos show both Kelly and Lee wearing the shoes while practicing fight choreography. And these images have now caused this blogger to wonder: Did one of these kick ass icons pass on a superfly fashion tip to the other, or were they both already on the same shoe game level? Were they sole mates, sole brothers?

The world may never know.

Click to enlarge


Side note: The marketing department at Onitsuka Tiger should probably break Mr. Paco off with several different pairs of Mexico 66's (size 13) for brainstorming on the fly a brilliant ad campaign (pictured just above) aimed at the Generation X demographic––and their kids. If I myself happened to see an Onitsuka Tiger parody ad like this, based on the 90's Gap khaki ads, in some über-trendy culture mag, I'd be headin' right off to Footlocker to buy some new shoes. Word is bond. LOL

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