Nationality: American. Born: Lee Yuen Kam in San Francisco, California, 27 November 1940, of Chinese parents. Education: Attended the University of Washington, Seattle. Family: Married Linda (Lee), son the actor Brandon Lee (deceased). Career: Lived in Hong Kong as a child, and made a number of films as a child actor; appeared as Kato in the Green Hornet TV series, 1966–67, and also in Batman , Ironside , Blondie , and Longstreet series, usually as a karate practitioner or teacher; from 1971, associated with series of kung-fu films made in Hong Kong; he directed one himself (released posthumously). Died: In Hong Kong, 20 July 1973.
(as Lee Siu Lung)
The Birth of Mankind
My Son A-Chen
A Mother's Tears ; Blame It on Father ; Countless Families ( A Myriad Homes )
In the Face of Demolition
An Orphan's Tragedy ; We Owe It to Our Children ; Orphan's Song
Those Wise Guys Who Fool Around ; Too Late for Divorce
The Orphan ( The Orphan Ah-Sam )
A Goose Alone in the World
(as Bruce Lee)
Marlowe (Bogart) (as Winslow Wong)
Fists of Fury ( The Big Boss ) (Lo Wei) (as Chen)
The Chinese Connection ( Fist of Fury ) (Lo Wei) (as Chen Chen)
Enter the Dragon ( The Deadly Three ) (Clouse) (as Lee); The Unicorn Fist
Kato and the Green Hornet (compilation of three Green Hornet episodes) (as Kato)
Game of Death ( Bruce Lee's Game of Death ) (Clouse) (as Billy Lo)
The Best of the Martial Arts Films (Weintraub—compilation)
Return of the Dragon ( The Way of the Dragon ) (as Tang Lung)
The Wrecking Crew (Karlson) (karate adviser)
Circle of Iron ( The Silent Flute ) (co-story)
Chinese Gung Fu: The Philosophical Art of Self Defense , Oakland, California, 1965.
Tao of Jeet Kune Do , Burbank, California, 1975.
Bruce Lee's Fighting Method: Advanced Techniques , with M. Uyehara, Burbank, California, 1977.
Bruce Lee's Fighting Method: Basic Training , with M. Uyehara, Burbank, California, 1977.
The Art of Expressing the Human Body , Boston, 1998.
Letters of the Dragon: an Anthology of Bruce Lee's Correspondence with Family, Frieds & Fans, 1958–1973, Boston, 1998.
Bruce Lee: Artist of Life: Vol. 6 , Boston, 1999.
"Bruce Lee: The Final Screen Test," interview with C. Golden, in Interview (New York), November 1974.
Interview with Liu Chia-Liang, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), September 1984.
Block, Alex Ben, The Legend of Bruce Lee , New York, 1974.
Bruce Lee, King of Kung Fu , edited by Lynne Waites, London, 1974.
Dennis, Felix, Bruce Lee, King of Kung Fu , London, 1974.
Lee, Linda, Bruce Lee: The Only Man I Knew , New York, 1975.
Château, René, Bruce Lee: La Légende du petit dragon , Paris, 1976.
Clouse, Robert, Bruce Lee: The Biography , Burbank, California, 1988.
Uyehara, M., Bruce Lee: The Incomparable Fighter , Burbank, California, 1988.
Lee, Linda, and Tom Bleecker, The Bruce Lee Story , Burbank, California, 1989.
Thomas, Bruce, Bruce Lee , New York, 1993.
Chunovic, Louis, Bruce Lee: The Tao of the Dragon Warrior , New York, 1996.
Little, John R., Bruce Lee: Words of a Master , Lincolnwood, 1998.
Crompton, Paul, Bruce Lee Anthology: Films & Fighting , Paul H. Crompton, Ltd., 1999.
Bishop, James, Remembering Bruce: The Enduring Legend of the Martial Arts Superstar , Nipomo, 1999.
Tagliaferro, Linda, Bruce Lee , Minneapolis, 2000.
Little, John, editor, Bruce Lee's Striking Thoughts , Boston, 2000.
Flanigan, B. P., "Kung Fu Krazy, or The Invasion of the 'Chop Suey Easterns'," in Cineaste (New York), vol. 6, no. 3, 1974.
Kaminsky, S. M., "Kung Fu Film as Ghetto Myth," in Journal of Popular Film (Bowling Green, Ohio), Spring 1974.
Ochs, P., "Requiem for a Dragon Departed," in Take One (Montreal), May 1974.
Moore, J., "I Was Bruce Lee's Voice," in Take One (Montreal), March 1975.
Braucourt, G., "Bruce Lee, superstar posthume," in Ecran (Paris), April 1975.
Gauthier, C., "Quand Superman se fit Chinois," and "Bruce Lee: repères biographiques et filmographiques," by D. Sauvaget, in Image et Son (Paris), March 1976.
Chiao, Hsiung-Ping, "Bruce Lee: His Influence on the Evolution of the Kung Fu Genre," in Journal of Popular Film and Television (Washington, D.C.), Spring 1981.
Weinraub, B., "Bruce Lee's Brief Life Being Brought to Screen," in New York Times , 15 April 1993.
Sharkey, B., "Fate's Children: Bruce and Brandon," in New York Times , 2 May 1993.
Appelo, Tim, "Tears of the Dragon," in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 14 May 1993.
"The Big Picture," in Boxoffice (Chicago), October 1993.
Lo, Kwai-Cheung, "Muscles and Subjectivity: A Short History of the Masculine Body in Hong Kong Popular Culture," in Camera Obscura (Bloomington), September 1996.
Brown, B., "Global Bodies/Postnationalities: Charles Johnson's Consumer Culture," in Representations , Spring 1997.
Bruce Lee: The Legend , documentary, 1984.
Bruce Lee: The Man/The Myth , film biography, 1984.
Bruce Lee: Curse of the Dragon , documentary, 1993.
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story , directed by Rob Cohen, 1993.
* * *
Bruce Lee was a phenomenon—a martial artist who, as an actor, became the hero and teacher of millions. As a child, Lee appeared in at least 20 Hong Kong film productions. Pursuing a career there and in the United States as a martial artist, Lee became well known and frequently taught actors, developing his own style of martial arts known as Jeet Kune Do. Due to his reputation, he was offered the role of Kato in the television series The Green Hornet .
After a few small parts in American films, Lee's breakthrough came when he returned to Hong Kong with his family in 1970. Due to the popularity of The Green Hornet , Lee found himself greeted by Hong Kong citizens as a local hero. Raymond Chow, the founder of Golden Harvest Productions, saw in Lee the great potential of a superstar and signed him for a two-film contract. With the immense box-office success of both Fists of Fury and The Chinese Connection , Lee went on to make his first English-language production, Enter the Dragon . Three months after the completion of the film and one month before its premiere, Lee's sudden death at the moment of his emerging international stardom shocked and saddened the world.
Another explanation for Lee's status as a cult figure may have something to do with his screen image. Because he was physically a small man, with the persona of a shy incompetent or a bumbling boy-next-door, it was hard to imagine that he could destroy any number of armed opponents singlehandedly. To many, Lee was the avenger of the underprivileged and oppressed, the "little man" rising up to battle the corruption surrounding him. He was a member of an oppressed minority who reflected the frustrations of minorities everywhere; he was the underdog who came out on top.
The 1990s have seen not only Jet Li's remake of Fists of Fury but also Jackie Chan's breakthrough in the United States with Rumble in the Bronx ; like Lee, in the late 1970s Chan was discovered by Raymond Chow, who groomed him as a new Bruce Lee. People still remember Lee. A new generation of kung-fu movie stars, though employing different styles and incorporating more modern techniques, still have to prove that they can match up with—in terms of physical agility and fighting ability—the legendary Bruce Lee.
—Maryann Oshana, updated by Guo-Juin Hong