Joel Stein wrote in Time, "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 pointy fingers---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 went up to the theaters to see his action films. He was David, with spin-kicks and flying leaps more captivating than any slingshot."
Lee honed his craft as a martial arts instructor in the U.S. before making his debut in the short-lived TV series The Green Hornet. Struggling to break into Hollywood, he returned to his hometown Hong Kong, where he catapulted to global fame with hits like The Big Boss and Fist of Fury before passing away in 1972 at age 32 from swelling of the brain.
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Good Websites and Sources: Jet Lee Official Site jetli.com ; Bruce Lee Foundation bruceleefoundation.orns ; Bruce Lee, the Divine Wind bruceleedivinewind.com . Book: ”Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit” by Bruce Thomas, the bassist in Elvis Costello’s group The Attractions.
Good Websites and Sources on Chinese Film: Chinese Movie Database dianying.com ; Internet Movie Database /www.imdb.com ; Shelly Kraicer’s Chinese Cinema site chinesecinemas.org ; Modern Chinese Literature and Culture (MCLC) Resource List mclc.osu.edu ; iFilm Connections---Asia and Pacific asianfilms.orns ; Love Asia Film loveasianfilm.com ; Journal of Chinese Cinemas intellectbooks.co.uk ; Wikipedia article on Chinese Cinema Wikipedia ; Senses of Cinema sensesofcinema.com ; Film in China (Chinese Government site) china.org.cn ; Directory of Interent Sources newton.uor.edu ; Chinese, Japanese, and Korean CDs and DVDs at Yes Asia yesasia.com and Zoom Movin other words zoommovie.com ; Expert on Chinese film: Stanley Rosen, a professor at the University of Southern California.
Bruce Lee"s Early Life
The son of a Hong Kong opera singer, Lee was born in San Francisco on November 27, 1940, the Year of the Dragon, while his father was on tour. Lee was a sickly child with a female name (Li Jun Fan) given to him by his mother to ward off evil spirits. She also pierced one of his ears in the belief that the spirits would leave him alone if they thought he was a girl.
Lee’s father was from Shunde in southern Guangdong Province. In 1941 he moved with his family to Hong Kong. Beginning at the age of five he appeared as a child star in 20 films and rarely showed up at school. Growing up in Hong Kong he took ballroom dancing classes, trained in the Chinese kung fu style of wing chun, took part in inter-school boxing competitions and was greatly affected by the drug addiction of a childhood friend.
Lee was skinny, bespectacled kid. In 1953, he lost a street fight and began taking kung-fu lessons as a means of protecting himself. He also began a life-long quest to turn his body into a well-tuned fighting machine through diet, exercise, weight training, and meditation. As a teenager Lee was formally trained in the martial arts in the Wing Chin kung fu order under a master teacher in Hong Kong. Lee’s style was known as Jee Kune Do (“Way of the Intercepting Fist”).
In 1959, at the age of 18, Lee returned to the United States to study philosophy at the University of Washington in Seattle. His mother sent him there so he could receive dual citizenship and to keep him away from his local gang. He worked at a Chinese restaurant, met his wife, went to college, and got a job teaching the Wing Chun-style of marital arts. In 1963, Lee opened his first kung-fu school, teaching Jee Kune Do. He taught in both Seattle in Oakland.
Bruce Lee, Physical Fitness and Television
In 1964, Lee entered a tournament in Long Beach, California---the first major American demonstration of kung fu. He have back belt Dan Inosanto a good fight. Inosanto asked Lee to be his student. Lee moved to Los Angeles and become a physical fitness freak. He ran, lifted weights and did isometrics. He experimented with electrical impulses which he used to stimulate his muscles while he slept. He consumed vitamins, royal jelly, steroids and even liquid steaks. Lee once wrote: "Research your won experiences for the truth. Absorb what is useful...Add what is specifically your won...The creating individual...is more important than any style or system."
In 1966 and 1967, Lee played Kato, a Japanese chauffeur, on the Green Hornet, a tongue-and-cheek super hero television series made by the creators of Batman. The role gave his teaching career a boost. Among his students were Steve McQueen, James Coburn and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Lee developed the idea for television series that became Kung Fu. David Carradine was selected over Lee for the leading role. According to a Warner Bros memo: "The American public won’t sit for a Chinaman appearing in their living room every week."
Off screen, he had reputation for arrogance and aggression. Insanto later said, "Although he had a short temper, Bruce Lee was a very humane and multidimensional person. If you were in his circle of close friends, he was open and joking all the time.
Bruce Lee"s Action Style
Lee was is known for the funny sounds he made when he fought and the unusual poses and stances he struck as he prepared to do battle. He was famous for a combat technique called the “one-inch punch” and reportedly used fencing techniques in his martial arts maneuvers but used his arms instead of a sword.
"No could make violence as beautiful as Lee"s," wrote Stein. "He had a cockiness that passed as charisma. And when he whooped like a crane, jumped in the air and simultaneously kicked two bad guys into unconsciousness, all while punching out two others...Off screen, you knew the real Lee could do that to."
Bruce Lee"s Hong Kong Films
To become a film star, Lee had to leave Los Angeles for Hong Kong. He blamed his lack of opportunities in Hollywood on discrimination against Asians. In 1971, he signed a contact with the Hong Kong company Golden Harvest.
Lee starred in three Hong Kong films: “Big Boss” (1971); “Fist of Fury” (1972), featuring classic numchuk work; “Way of the Dragon” (1972), in which Lee battles American karate killers and Mafia killers.
Of these three one was almost unwatchable and other two had only the fight scenes to redeem them. The New York Times film critic Vincent Canby wrote, his films make "the worst Italian western look like the most solemn and noble achievements of the early Soviet Cinema."
The plot of Lee"s films were all pretty much the same. He plays a Robin-Hood-like good guy who sticks ofr irdnary Chinese who are getting pushed around by criminals and bullies. At he beginning Lee makes a vow not too fight. After people close to him are exploited and killed he renounces his vow and seek retribution by killing lots of people.
Bruce Lee"s Hollywood Films
Lee"s films made lots of money in Asia, which caught Hollywood’s attention. He was invited back to the United States to make films, something he dreamed about. “Enter the Dragon” (1973), a joint Hollywood and Hong Kong production was the result.
In “Enter the Dragon” Lee battles villains who runs a kung fu academy as a cover for a drug smuggling operation. The climatic fight scene takes place in a room of mirrors against a claw-fisted rival. The film has earned more than $200 million and is still popular today. .
“Game of Death” (1978) was released five years after Lee"s death. Lee died while making the film and appears in only about 40 minutes of the film. Many scenes use Lee look-a -likes with fake beards and sunglasses and clips from previous Bruce Lee films. There is even some footage from Lee’s real life funeral. In the film Lee fights 7-foot-1-inch basketball star Kareem Abdul Jabar and was able to kick him in the face with one foot still on the ground. The film was absurd and didn’t do very at the box office.
Bruce Lee"s Death
Lee died at the age of 32 on July 20, 1973 of a brain aneurysm at his mistress"s home one month before the premier of “Enter the Dragon”. Some believe the injury was caused by a blow to the head. Others say he died became of a problem with his adrenaline gland, exacerbated by the overuse of cortisone. An autopsy reported his death was linked to a strange reaction to a prescription painkiller called Equagesic.
Doctors also found traces of marijuana in his blood. Some have speculated that died from eating hash cookies. According to the theory his body, which had only 1 percent fat, was unable to deal with large amounts of THC. Some believe his stash was poisoned with cortisone by jealous Hong Kong move moguls.
Lee was buried at Lake View Cemetery in Seattle. He left no will and was not a wealthy man. At the time of his death, Lee was a fairly big star in Asia but still relatively unknown in the United States. His obituary in the New York Times was only eight sentences long. The documentary “Bruce Lee: The Man and the Legend” was released in 1973. It contains interviews with Steve McQueen, James Coburn and Chuck Norris.
Bruce Lee"s Legacy
Lee had two children with his wife, actress Linda Lee-Cadwell. His son Brandon Lee was killed in 1993 while making his first feature film, “The Crow”. His daughter Shannon Lee was in the 1998 film “Enter the Eagles”. The mansion in Hong Kong where Lee lived is now a by-the-hour love hotel. It was sold two years after his death and transformed by its owner into the "Romantic Hotel."
Bruce Lee is more popular and recognized in Hong Kong and the West than in mainland China in part because when he was the height of his fame in the 1970s China was in the middle of the Cultural Revolution.
Lee is admired for helping boost the status of Chinese in particular and instilling pride in minorities in general. Liu Jikang, a representative with Sony films in Beijing, told the Los Angeles Times, “Before his movies few foreigners knew about the Chinese, but his films abruptly gave up a very positive image of China.”
David Henry Hwang, who is working on a play about Lee, said the Lee helped elevate Chinese from the ranks of cooks and laundry men to math geniuses and company leaders. He told the Los Angeles Times, “For the first time on the 20th century a Chinese man was seen as a hero, as someone, who stood for justice and all the things we associated with heroism. That was completely different for Chinese at the time he came along.”
All the rights to Bruce Lee’s name. likeness, trademarks and works are owned by Concord Moon, a Los-Angeles-based limited partnership managed in part by Shannon Lee. Licensing the Bruce Lee’s name and products is worth millions of dollars but can not attached, according to Shannon Lee’s wishes, to tobacco products, alcohol or weapons. “Basically, what we try to do is run the business with my father’s legacy I mind,” Shannon said.
In mainland China Lee’s films are widely pirated and his image is widely used without permission or royalty fees. Real Fym--- a chain of a 100 or so restaurants, doesn’t use the Lee name but in their logo the use an image of a jumping kung fu fighter that looks unmistakable like Lee.
Bruce Lee"s Projects
In 2006, the family of Bruce Lee said that was working on a film of Bruce Lee’s life based a biography about Lee by his brother Robert Lee Chun-fai; and the first statue of Bruce Lee was unveiled in the Bosnian town of Mostar as way of uniting the different ethnic groups in Bosnia.
Among the project involving Concord Moon are a CGI movie, an animated feature film, a live-action television series and a Broadway musical by David Henry Hwang, whose “M Butterfly” won a Tony award for best play in 1988. Concord Moon has given its approval to the CCTV project.
The CGI movie is being produced by Li Cheng and J.A. Media. Plans are to start shooting in April of 2005 and release the film before the 2008 Olympics. There are plans for shooting in Hong Kong and Seattle and perhaps other cities in the U.S., Europe or mainland China. It is not clear what sort of arrangements have been made with the Lee family.
The film “Finishing the Game” by director Justin Lin spoofs a film made after Lee’s death with body doubles and features 50 Bruce-Lee look-likes selected from a massive audition in Los Angeles that aimed to get 100 of them. Men of Asian descent from a variety of countries showed up. One Korean-America actor who got a part told the New York Times, “People told me I look like Bruce Lee but I grew up in the West so I’ve had people tell me I look like Sandra Oh.” The story behind the film is that the look-alikes all want a single part and are their numbers are reduced in some very unpleasant ways
In 2006, it was announced that a Bruce Lee-themed park will be built in Shunde---the ancestral home of Bruce Lee’s family. It will contain a statue of Bruce Lee, memorial hall, martial arts academy and conference center and a rollercoaster that let out a Bruce Lee howl. The park is expected to cost $25.5 million and be completed in time ofr the Olympics in 2008. the actress Betty Ting Pei donated a pair numchucks that Lee once used. Shunde was the hometown of Lee’s father and grandfather. Lee was born in San Francisco and only visited the town once when he was a kid.
In January 2009, a plan was approved to transform Bruce Lee’s Kowloon home from a love hotel into a tourist attraction after the hotel’s owner released it and hotel tycoon Yu Pang-line decided to donate the use of it to the city of Hong Kong. The plan calls for Lee’s study and training room to be decorated with weapons and paraphernalia like those used in his films.
2010 Movie About Young Bruce Lee
A $4.6 million Chinese-language production released two days before what would have been Lee"s 70th birthday on November 27, 2010 was about Lee’s early life before he became famous and was based on memories of Lee"s siblings. “Bruce Lee, My Brother” traces the actor"s life growing up in Hong Kong before he left to study in the U.S.
"Many people know about his movies and his fighting philosophy after he became famous. But very few people know about his family, his parents, his first love, what he did on movie sets as a young actor," producer Manfred Wong told AP. "This production offers a new perspective to understanding a person. We see someone who is real and fragile. The Bruce Lee we see in his films is deified," said Wong Yiu-keung, head of the Hong Kong Bruce Lee fan club and an adviser to the film.
AP reported: “Audiences see Lee courting his first love interest,launching his entertainment career as a popular child actor and pained by a childhood friend"s drug addiction. He flashes his ballroom dance moves, starts training in the Chinese kung fu style of wing chun and takes part in an inter-school boxing competition.
Cast in the lead role is Hong Kong newcomer Aarif Lee, who is not related to the late actor. The sharp facial features of the 23-year-old singer-songwriter who hails from a family of mixed Chinese, Malaysian and Middle Eastern heritage make him a credible stand-in for Bruce Lee, whose mother was part German. The production was based on input from Lee"s younger brother Robert and his two older sisters. Lee"s daughter Shannon Lee and widow Linda Lee Cadwell, however, were not involved and there have been suggestions of interfamily controversy.
Rebirth of Bruce Lee"s Wing Chun Kung Fu Style
In December 2011, AFP reported: ‘sam Lau picks up his sword and waves it in a series of terrifying slashes as he runs towards a student, who retreats laughing nervously. All around them, kung fu students grapple fiercely. The pupils have come to Lau"s Hong Kong studio---some from as far away as Italy---to hone their moves in the kung fu style called wing chun, which is on the rise again decades after the death of its most famous follower, Bruce Lee.
Many credit wing chun"s renewed popularity to a series of films about Yip Man, one of the art"s greatest "sifus", or teachers, and most famously the man who turned Lee from street fighter to martial arts legend. "I started to learn wing chun because of the movie "Ip Man". He was a great person," said Sam Ng, 12. "When Yip Man saw someone beating someone else, he would stand up and help to rescue them." Ng shows off a series of sharp chopping gestures followed by a formal bow.
But though students may be brought to wing chun by the 2008 blockbuster starring Donnie Yen -- or its sequel and prequel -- it is the health and self-defence benefits that keep them sparring, said Yip"s son, Yip Ching, 77. "Yip Man let the world know about wing chun but it"s even more popular now," he said. Lau, 64, was once Yip"s assistant and is now a sifu in his own right with over 1,000 pupils. He says that wing chun appeals to a broad range of students because of its emphasis on cunning and focus rather than brute force. "I like it because now I am not shy," an Italian student said. "Before, I was shy, but now I have found a different part of myself. I have more positive energy."
Lau also credits the growth in student numbers to the Internet, which allows would-be martial artists to instantly find Yip"s followers and their kung fu schools rather than what he sees as cheap imitations. "Wing chun is the best kung fu in the world, and we have to tell the world, this is the correct wing chun," he said. "People see my website, they say this is very good, this is Bruce Lee again." But exact numbers of wing chun students around the world are hard to come by, and this, says Lau, is a symptom of wing chun"s problems.
Wing Chun Style of Kung Fu
According to legend the wing chun style of kung fu was founded by Yim Wing Chun, a young woman in southern China during the Qing dynasty who used techniques taught to her by a nun to overcome a local warlord trying to trap her into marriage. Yip Man brought her art to Hong Kong and, through Bruce Lee and the heyday of Hong Kong film, to the attention of the world."A lady in a dangerous situation can do something very serious, very fierce -- attack the eye, the chin, the neck -- wing chun is real fighting, real defence that relies on your technique," Lau said.
Fortunately, Lau"s studios in Hong Kong"s teeming Tsim Sha Tsui are free of pupils gouging one another"s eyes out. Instead they stand in pairs grappling with their arms in an exercise called chi sao, or "sticky hands" -- a key element of wing chun in which students learn to respond instantly to an opponent"s movements.Other exercises involve kicks and punches, while students may also train with wooden dummies and, in advanced stages, poles or swords.
Students learn to outwit opponents with speed and deliver multiple punches in quick succession while staying balanced around a centre line. The most important exercises are not the most spectacular, but Lau"s students say they train the body to react faster than the brain.They also lead to a different state of mind and body in which relaxation enables total focus, says Lau"s disciple, Italian Furio Piccinini.
"Even when punching incredibly fast you have to also be relaxed... Normally you think that to punch you use force, but that"s not true, you use the body weight to punch and to develop power," Piccinini said. "If you are relaxed, you can develop great power. I think that"s incredible -- it"s like geometry, physics. With a simple movement you can push very, very hard."
With roots in down-and-dirty street fighting, the sport has no standardised system of exams and competitions, and lacks the international profile of other martial arts like judo and taekwondo. Lau sees it as his mission to "unify wing chun" to preserve Yip Man"s techniques for the future."I have been asking the Chinese government to promote wing chun, to develop it and tell the world to follow," he said. "But they only know about gold medals and the Olympic Games. With several teachers claiming to be the heirs of Yip Man, Lau"s quest to become the head of a united wing chun movement may prove difficult.
The crowd that gathers at Yip"s grave for an autumn commemoration shows the old man is far from forgotten. Some European visitors have no language in common with Yip"s local fans, but all rowdily honour him with incense, rice wine and a whole barbecued pig. One Hong Kong disciple, Tony Ng, has only been learning for a year but sees wing chun featuring heavily in his future. "I"m learning to use my whole body for fighting," he said. "It"s very easy to say but very difficult to do."
Jet Li has been called the Fred Astaire of Hong Kong action film. He is known for his lightning fast moves and inventive choreography. He has been making movies since 1982. The “Once Upon a Time in China” series made him a Hong Kong superstar.He was 46 in 2009. He has made kung fu movies in both mainland China and Hong Kong. He lives in Shanghai.
Jet Li was born Li Lian-Jie. He began studying wushu at the age of 7 and eventually became a five-time all-China wushu champion. In 1974, he performed on the White House lawn in front of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger as part of the People"s Republic junior wushu team.
Jet Li has been married twice, he said his first marriage was done out of obligation and never developed into loving relationship. His second marriage to his current wife, actress Nina Li, he said, was out of love. On his first wife he said, “In terms of how much emotion each person devoted, she maybe gave 90 percent or 80 percent. At most I gave...I still haven’t figured it out. She was a classmate two years his elder. “My family was poor,” he said. “Her family was well-off. She often took care of me. That’s how it happened. I didn’t know what love was.”
Li married Nina Li in September 1999. They have two daughters. “You realize, “I put myself out there. I can give up my fame and success, give up my status, give up my money. I’m willing to die for her.” You realize this is love.”
Jet Li has said the he struggles with love scenes in his movies because has naturally introverted personality. On his web log he said, “Every time I start a move I don’t know how to have a conversation with the female lead. I’m rather introverted.”
Jet Li blog: alivenot dead.com/26
Jet Li Hong Kong Films
While still s a teenager Jet Li appeared in the Hong Kong films “Once Upon a Time in China” (1981), which made him a star, and “Shaolin Temple”, (1982), which made Shaolin Temple a major tourist attraction as the birthplace of kung fu and remains one of the most popular kung fu films ever.
Some critics believe that Li’s best Hong Kong films are “Fong Said Ache” and “My Father Is Hero”. In a memorable scene from “New Legend of Shaolin” he fights off a dozen attackers with an infant strapped to his back.
Jet Li was making the Chinese-language film “Ci Ma” (“Piercing Horse”) in 2007 with Chinese actress and director Xu Jingiei.
Jet Li Hollywood Films
Jet Li made his Hollywood debut in the film “Lethal Weapon 4" (1998), a move he took a pay cut to around $1 million to make, and appeared in “Romeo Must Die” (2000), “Cradle 2 the Grave” and “The One”. Warner Bros sign him up to a multi-picture deal because women in a test audience loved him.
Li could barely speak any English when he made his Hollywood debut in 1998 but now is regarded as fluent. He told the Los Angeles Times, “When I started I only knew how to say “good morning,” “thank you” and few single words. Warner Bros hired a teacher and he taught me enough. If you want to make Hollywood movies you need to study
The best scene in “Romeo Must Die” shows Jet Li using his costar, the late hip hop singer Aaliya, as weapon in fight against a female villain. Li said, "
Jet Li is scheduled to appear as Kato in the film version of the “Green Hornet”. He has also suppled his voice and stunts to the video game “Rise and Honor”.
Jet Li’s “Fearless” was released in September 2006. It is about a kung fu master who turns from a fighter into to a man who preaches martial arts as a means of self-betterment. On the role, Li said, “It’s my most important film because it is the heart if my philosophy---that the biggest enemy is within yourself.” It is about the late martial artist Huo Yiuanjia,
In “Rouge” Jet Li plays a violent assassin who is sought by an FBI agent whose partner was killed by Li’s character.
Jet Li has criticized Chinese censors, especially in regard ro the fact that few of his Hollywood movies are shown on the mainland. “Romeo Must Die” was banned because of it gangsters. “Kiss the Dragon” was banned because Li’s character, a policeman, kills foreigners.
Jet Li and Jackie Chan
The fight scenes were choreographed by Yuen Woo-Ping, who worked with Chan on his first moves but hadn’t worked with him in more than 30 years. He was chosen because he was the one guy respected by both Chan and Li.
Director if the film Rob Minkoff told the Daily Yomiuri, “A week before shooting the movie, both of them told me that they are scared to death and they wanted to get out. They called their managers and said, “Can we get out? And the managers said, “It’s too late; we cashed the check.” Bringing them together in first place he was no piece of cake. “You have like those two giant nations suddenly ramming together to try to do a merger...It’s just an overwhelmingly complicated and difficult to deal with.”
“You have the two largest movie stars in Asia---largest martial arts stars particularly...All the customary things that they would get suddenly are challenged. Who’s gonna to get first billing, who’s gonna get second billing, who’s gonna get this, who’s gonna get that?..You had to make sure that they were going to be treated equally, because the truth is, the two of them had an enormous amount to lose if this didn’t work.”
On Jackie Chan and Jet Li, Time film critic Richard Corliss wrote: “For all the safety precautions taken, the two stars still have to give every fiber of their disciplined, battered bodies to get through the kung-fu scenes. It’s what made them action stars to begin with: the willingness to display their physical gifts while undergoing something like physical torture. In a phrase macho masochism.”
In his blog Chan said, the scenes were expected to take all day but were completed in a couple of hours. “The short sparring that lasted a few moves went very smoothly. It was like lightning with a brother from the same school of martial arts. We blended easily on every move, be it on terms of timing or rhythm.
Jet Li’s 1000 Village Plan
Tony Blair and Jet Li are collaborating on the “1000 Village Plan,” a plan to make 1000 villages worldwide energy efficient, with 400 of the villages are to be in China.
Jet Li is one of China"s best-known philanthropists thanks to his One Foundation. He recently highlighted the difficulties such groups face when he said its future was uncertain due to its blurry legal status, telling state broadcaster CCTV that soon “it will be questioned by those who seek more transparency and professionalism in China"s charity development.” Li met with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett when they came too China urging Chinese billionaires to give to charity.
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