Although his back catalogue of Hollywood films is relatively slim, since his death forty years ago, Bruce Lee has risen to become an international pop cultural icon.
His mix of warmth, wisdom, dedication and discipline bridge physical and cultural barriers. An ambassador of both US cinema and ancient Chinese martial arts, he has the power to unite fans across cultural and ethnic divides.
One apocryphal story tells of a Bosnian town, torn apart by war, and struggling to come to terms with the aftermath of a bloody genocide, which chose to build a statue of Bruce Lee in the centre of the town. To the local people, and his fans all over the world, he was indisputably a figure to admire, and someone the entirety of the fractured local populace could agree was worth of celebrating.
Bruce Lee died on July 20 2973. Although the intervening years have illustrated the story of his demise with rumours as fantastical as some of his films, the most likely truth is that his passing was precedent by an allergic reaction to some painkillers.
[youtube height=”280″ width=”400″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqzQ2qrtBeg[/youtube]
Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Kowloon until his late teens, when he returned to America to attend college. It was here he first began teaching martial arts, before making the jump into acting. The rest, as they say, is history.
This week, to coincide with the anniversary of his passing, a landmark exhibition celebrating the life of Lee opened up in Hong Kong. Organised by the Bruce Lee Foundation together with the Hong Kong government, the show charts his journey from kung fu student to international martial arts icon.
Tragically, Lee’s son Brandon, who followed his father into the world of martial arts, was killed at the age of 28 on the set of the film ‘The Crow’. The family legacy is kept alive today by Brandon’s sister Shannon, who entered the world of business. Speaking at the exhibit, she said she was determined to ensure her father wasn’t forgotten, saying that she was inspired by seeing ‘how many lives he’s touched in such a positive way, and if I can keep that going, that’s meaningful’.