CIRCLE OF IRON also known as THE SILENT FLUTE is a 1978 martial arts fantasy film, originally conceived by Bruce Lee, James Coburn and Stirling Silliphant in 1969. Both Mrs. Coburn and Silliphant were students of Sigung Lee at that time. The film stars David Carradine, Jeff Cooper and Anthony De Longis and has cameos from Roddy McDowall, Eli Wallach and Christopher Lee. The plot involves Jeff Cooper’s character’s MUSHA SHUGYO “Warrior Quest.” Along the way he encounters several trials that educate him in the Zen like philosophy of Jeet Kune Do. Some of the trials involve physical combat and some of them are like Zen KOAN or riddles designed to confound conventional thinking.
Bruce Lee envisioned his film as an entertaining introduction to Eastern Philosophy, as well as martial arts. As he wrote in a preface to the script:
The story illustrates a great difference between Oriental and Western thinking. This average Westerner would be intrigued by someone’s ability to catch flies with chopsticks, and would probably say that has nothing to do with how good he is in combat. But the Oriental would realize that a man who has attained such complete mastery of an art reveals his presence of mind in every action…True mastery transcends any particular art.
It’s ironic that both the original KUNG FU television series and Circle Of Iron were meant to be vehicles for Bruce Lee, yet David Carradine ended up starring in both of them. This film has reached cult status and I highly recommend that you watch it. It’s available on Blu-ray, DVD and streaming on Nettflix.