ALSO: See how Bruce Lee’s “Enter the Dragon” hero fared in our Badass Bracket!
It’s an amazing story: the rise, dominance, and eventual legacy of Bruce Lee. He was actually born in San Francisco, in 1940, but spent his formative years in Hong Kong. He was a child actor, and in response to being involved in a beating by a street gang, he took up martial arts… and cha-cha dancing, even winning a dance championship as a teenager. He returned to the States to study philosophy.
In the mid 1960s, Bruce Lee was opening kung fu schools and appearing in martial arts events. The exposure eventually caught the eyes of hotshot Hollywood producer William Dozier who was riding high off the Adam West “Batman” series – and about to launch “The Green Hornet.” Dozier needed a Kato, and found him in Bruce Lee. While the show only lasted a season, its popularity (and now its place in pop culture) is due to Bruce Lee himself. He was now off and kicking.
By 1971, Bruce Lee was the star of his own pictures: “Fist of Fury,” “The Chinese Connection,” “The Way of the Dragon” (in which Lee faces Norris in an epic showdown in the Roman Colosseum,) and “Enter the Dragon” were remarkable box office smash hits. More pictures were prepared – including a preposterous bout with basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – but he Lee died on July 20, 1973 under still-mysterious circumstances. He was survived by his wife Linda Lee Cadwell and his two children, including son Brandon Lee who would go on to star in “The Crow,” only to die on the film’s set in a freak accident, drawing eerie parallels to the untimely deaths of both father and son. A posthumous film with Bruce, “Game of Death,” was released in 1978. While poorly edited using a body double, its final sequence remains jaw dropping, with Lee at the top of his game.
Through his mesmerizing persona, his thought provoking philosophical sayings, and his incredible martial arts skill, Bruce Lee’s legacy is ensured for good. He continues to remain a fascinating figure, even in death. A badass to the end.
Bruce on the Web
Enter Bruce Lee
Official Unofficial Bruce Lee fan site.
Bruce Lee Club UK
United Kingdom-based fan club with enormous resources.
Extremely detailed, massive biography of the cult hero.
Milk and Cookies: Lost Interview
Video clip of Lee interview
Daily Motion Interview
Video interview with Lee.
Bruce on the Screen
Bruce Lee was a childhood actor in Hong Kong through the age of 19 before he left for college in America. His career took off on TV as the Green Hornet’s sidekick Kato in William Dozier’s “The Green Hornet.” The show ran from 1966-1967 and Lee worked the rest of the decade guest appearing on other shows. He went to Thailand to film “Fists of Fury” in 1971, followed by a few appearances on TV’s “Longstreet.” In 1972, two films were released: his follow-up to “Fists of Fury,” “The Chinese Connection” (one of many alternate titles), and the Chuck Norris duel “The Way of the Dragon.” His final \ film is 1973’s “The Way of the Dragon.” The uncompleted film was spliced together for a 1978 release and called “Game of Death.” Further footage was pieced together for “Game of Death II” in 1981.
Bruce Lee’s legacy rose to incredible heights in the decades after his death. In 2001, a recut version of “Game of Death” was released in Japan incorporating 40 minutes of footage with Lee. At this time, a phenomenon known as “Bruceploitation,” where filmmakers inspired by Lee’s career weaved the master into their own work, was on the rise. Nowadays, since no figure has replaced Bruce Lee in stature, his preeminence is unchallenged.
“As you think, so shall you become.”
“Simplicity is the key to brilliance.”
“Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.”
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done.”
“If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”