Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bruce Lee's Enduring Legacy: The Big Boss

Bruce Lee’s Legacy Lives On In A Major New Exhibition Showing In Hong Kong
by Matthew Scott
The sepia-tinged photos still tell the story. In the days following Bruce Lee’s passing, his family, friends and tens of thousands of fans united by grief and the shock of the news that the martial artist and actor’s life had been cut short gathered on the streets of Hong Kong to pay their respects. Lee was just 32 when he was claimed by a cerebral oedema on 20 July, 1973, but he had long been a star in Hong Kong. Those images of public mourning were sent out to a world that had only recently come under Lee’s influence.

Asia’s first cinematic hero

Lee had given Asia its first internationally recognised cinematic hero, while the characters he developed, all common men standing up to injustice, resonated with people from all walks of life. It was the first time the world had seen an Asian man fight back – and win – and Lee’s success paved the way for the generations of Chinese martial-arts stars that followed.
Forty years after his death, Lee is still revered globally – as much for the sheer power of his performances on screen as for the messages of self-respect and honour he sought to spread through his martial-arts philosophy. Time magazine named him as one of the 100 most-influential people of the 20th century.
“My father was an extremely engaging man – passionate, charismatic, funny, caring and energetic. He was magnetic,” says Shannon Lee, who was just four years old when her father passed away. “As for his work, I think it’s built a lasting legacy because of the depth and authenticity that was the foundation of all he did. When you see him move or speak or write, you feel the passion, dedication and belief backing it. It’s inspiring.”
Born in San Francisco but raised in Hong Kong from the time he was three months old, Lee became a child star before heading back to San Francisco when he was 18 to further his education. He returned to Hong Kong for good in 1971, determined to make it in the movies. At the time of his death, Lee had rolled out a series of local blockbusters including The Big Boss (1971) and Fist of Fury (1972), which leaned heavily on the skills he had developed through his own jeet kune do school of kung fu and on his particular brand of philosophy. Hollywood had also come calling and Lee’s Enter the Dragon (1973) was a major international hit, released just days after his death.
From left: the classic yellow track suit worn by Bruce Lee in Game of Death, conceptual drawings for
the fight scenes in 
Enter the Dragon made by Bruce Lee and a nunchaku

Bruce Lee: Kung Fu • Art • Life

Shannon has helped ensure her father’s legacy by setting up the Bruce Lee Foundation charity, which along with Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department, marks the 40th anniversary of his passing by staging the Bruce Lee: Kung Fu • Art • Life exhibition, running until 2018 at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. “I feel blessed to be able to continue to spread his message and I’m amazed at his accomplishments and the maturity and depth he had at such a young age,” says Shannon. “He was a dynamic individual who inspires us all to be our best selves.”
More than 600 items collected from the star’s personal belongings are on display along with memorabilia from private collections, much of which, organisers say, has rarely been shown in public. Belinda Wong, Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, says the personal touches present Lee just as he was. “On Bruce Lee’s journey through life, he was not greatly bothered by any need to rigidly maintain his personal image,” says Wong. “Rather, he was constantly in search of truth and explored different aspects of himself to discover who he was and what he could be.”
The exhibition’s highlights include Lee’s personal letters outlining his philosophy, conceptual drawings of fight sequences from his movies, his personal training equipment and his library. A documentary –The Brilliant Life of Bruce Lee – is also being screened at the museum.
It is the first major event of its kind in Hong Kong and for fans such as “W” Wong Yiu-keung, Chairman of the Kowloon-based Bruce Lee Club, it’s an opportunity to reflect on Lee’s continuing influence. “Bruce Lee’s spirit, to me, is a philosophy of liberating oneself and a kind of positive thinking, against all forms of the old mindset, traditional norms and bias,” he says. “He is a cross-cultural icon and a product of multi-disciplines, not only in the martial-arts field but also in human philosophy. Bruce Lee is a legend that is still relevant in a modern, global society.” — Discovery via

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