“The Last Airbender” has the unenviable task of proving itself to not one but two very distinct audiences. In order to find success, director M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film will have to win over mainstream audiences while also earning respect from the fans of the hit Nickelodeon animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” on which the live-action film was based.
But according to Shyamalan, that wasn’t the only source of inspiration for the film.
In an interview with MTV News this week, Shyamalan revealed that one of his favorite scenes from the film was actually an homage to a famous scene in a 1973 action classic: Bruce Lee’s “Enter the Dragon.”
“Sometimes, you just see something and you go, ’Wow, this is just working out exactly perfectly,’ ” Shyamalan said. “The Master Pakku fight [was like that].”
In the scene he’s describing, one of the story’s most talented waterbenders takes on a horde of soldiers from the enemy Fire Nation with a pair of thick ropes shaped out of water and ice. Flinging the watery tentacles around, Master Pakku (played by Francis Guinan) easily keeps the crowd of warriors at bay.
“I’d always imagined him bringing out these two tentacles and whipping people,” Shyamalan explained, swinging his own arms around for reference. “For me, it was the Bruce Lee scene in ’Enter the Dragon’ with the nunchucks. [Lee] was surrounded, [but] he has peripheral vision, and somebody’s coming up from behind him, and he hits him with the nunchuck from behind.”
And the finished product, Shyamalan said, is a more than fitting ode to Lee’s famous one-on-many battle.
“I thought of the Pakku scene like that, and that turned out really well,” said the filmmaker.
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Last Airbender.”