In 1959 a short, skinny, bespectacled 18-year-old kid from Hong Kong traveled to America and declared himself to be John Wayne, James Dean, Charles Atlas and the guy who kicked your butt in junior high. In an America where the Chinese were still stereotyped as meek house servants and railroad workers, Bruce Lee was all steely sinew, threatening stare and cocky, pointed finger--a Clark Kent who didn't need to change outfits. He was the redeemer, not only for the Chinese but for all the geeks and dorks and pimpled teenage masses that washed up at the theaters to see his action movies. He was David, with spin-kicks and flying leaps more captivating than any slingshot.
As an exceptional martial artist, Lee's ability to synthesize various national martial techniques sparked a new trend in unarmed combat martial arts films. His talent shifted the focus from martial arts director to martial arts actor.
Since 1973, the year Bruce Lee died and his famous motion picture Enter the Dragon was released, movies have been the single most influential factor behind the growing popularity of martial arts. Lee's cinematic success spawned a global industry of the martial arts, and schools opened and flourished worldwide. During the 1970s more students took up the study of martial arts than at any time before or since. To those involved in martial arts, the years from 1972 to 1975 the height of Lee's popularity are often cited as the Bruce Lee era.
Biography of Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee (Lee Hsiao Lung), was born in San Fransisco in November 1940 the son of a famous Chinese opera singer. Bruce moved to Hong Kong when he soon became a child star in the growing Eastern film industry. His first film was called The birth of Mankind, his last film which was uncompleted at the time of his death in 1973 was called Game of Death. Bruce was a loner and was constantly getting himself into fights, with this in mind he looked towards Kung Fu as a way of disciplining himself. The famous Yip Men taught Bruce his basic skills, but it was not long before he was mastering the master. Yip Men was acknowledged to be one of the greatest authorities on the subject of Wing Chun a branch of the Chinese Martial Arts. Bruce mastered this before progressing to his own style of Jeet Kune Do.
At the age of 19 Bruce left Hong Kong to study for a degree in philosophy at the University of Washington in America. It was at this time that he took on a waiter's job and also began to teach some of his skills to students who would pay. Some of the Japanese schools in the Seattle area tried to force Bruce out, and there was many confrontations and duels fought for Bruce to remain.
He met his wife Linda at the University he was studying. His Martial Arts school flourished and he soon graduated. He gained some small roles in Hollywood films - Marlowe- etc, and some major stars were begging to be students of the Little Dragon. James Coburn, Steve McQueen and Lee Marvin to name but a few. He regularly gave displays at exhibitions, and it was during one of these exhibitions that he was spotted by a producer and signed up to do The Green Hornet series. The series was quite successful in the States - but was a huge hit in Hong Kong. Bruce visited Hong Kong in 1968 and he was overwhelmed by the attention he received from the people he had left.
He once said on a radio program if the price was right he would do a movie for the Chinese audiences. He returned to the States and completed some episodes of Longstreet. He began writing his book on Jeet Kune Do at roughly the same time.
Back in Hong Kong producers were desperate to sign Bruce for a Martial Arts film, and it was Raymond Chow the head of Golden Harvest who produced The Big Boss. The rest as they say is history.
Bruce Lee's Hollywood Movies
These are the five movies that Bruce Lee made in Hollywood before his tragic death.
FIST OF FURY
THE CHINESE CONNECTION
ENTER THE DRAGON
RETURN OF THE DRAGON
GAME OF DEATH