Bruce Lee, the Legend


More ancient than the earliest records

of Chinese civilization...

are legends--

legends of great warriors,

of knights and wizards...

and mysterious monks

who can perform wondrous feats.

In these fabulous beings

was embodied...

the essence of good and evil.

They had the power to fly...

and the strength

to defeat whole armies.

These fables thrived

until about 1 00 years ago.

Then a new legend was born.

According to the Chinese

astrological calendar,

1 940 was the Year of the Dragon.

Bruce Lee was born on the 27 th

of November of that year.

The place was San Francisco.

His father, Lee Hoi Chuen,

a leading comic actor in Hong Kong,

was appearing in a touring

Cantonese opera troupe,

something like the Chinese equivalent

of a vaudeville show.

His wife, Grace, who was half German,

was accompanying him.

The tour over, the Lee family

returned to Hong Kong...

when Bruce was 3 months old.

A family portrait

in their Nathan Road flat...

shows Bruce at the center.

Bruce considered his first film role

was in The Beginning Of A Boy,

which he made when he was 6.

Two years later, he played

a leading role in My Son Ah Cheung.

Much of the material written

about Bruce Lee states...

he never appeared in films

with his father.

These rare scenes from My Son Ah Cheung

prove the opposite.

Interestingly, this was

the first of their films together...

in which Bruce had a more important role

than his father.

The theme of this film

was fairly typical...

of many of the more than 20

he appeared in...

before returning

to San Francisco in 1 958.

In Ah Cheung,

Bruce Lee is an orphan...

whose only education is what

he can find on the street.

You little brat!

Put that down, you!


In what is almost a preview in miniature

of a scene in Enter The Dragon...

Bruce picks up a broomstick

and attacks.

- What'd you hit me for?

- Why did you steal?

It's not your business.

You're a thief.

I'll get you, you pig!

Tell me the truth.

Where were you last night?

You scheming against me, eh?

You little devil, you!

Well, are you going to

tell me the truth, are you?

Come along. Speak up, I say.

Tell me the truth, you little devil.

You've been nothing but trouble

ever since you came here.

I'll see that you

get a good hiding. Ohh!

Ohh! Ohh!

You've beaten up my brother.

I'll chop off your head.

Ohh! Ohh!

Why, you devil!

I'll kill you!

How much of his own character

did Bruce bring to these roles?

And how much were

his screen characters...

beginning to infuse

into his own personality?

As time went on, Bruce would play

more and more the kind of role...

that could be described

as a problem youth.

Many of these reflected

the themes of films...

popular in the United States

at the time,

films like Blackboardjungle.

One of Bruce's films is

called Boys On The Street.

If we watch him closely

in the many street brawls

with which these films abound,

we can already see the beginnings of the

trademarks of expression and gesture...

which he would later make

so very much his own.

Yes, I got a big mouth,

but I can back it up with my fists.

- You want to pick a fight?

- You said it, you asked for it.

- A paper tiger after all.

- Stop it, will you.

You kids shouldn't fight here.

This is my place. Get out of here.

I dare you to follow me.

- He took my box.

- Get him!

Come on!

Hey, you!

- Yay!

- Yay!

- Yay!

- Yay!

- Yay!

- Yay!

Those kids really have guts.

You want some more?

I took your shoe shine box

to get you here for a square off.

Now you know

I mean business.

Come on, kids.

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Russell Cawthorne

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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