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Thread: Bruce Lee: A Life by Matt Polly

  1. #16
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    Our winners are announced!

    Gene Ching
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  2. #17
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    Just finished reading Polly's Bruce Lee. What a breath of fresh air to hear of the realities behind the Legend instead of the movie script glamorization and cover-ups by friends and family to keep the tarnish from surfacing into the limelighted public domain. This book emblazons his extraordinary accomplishments while providing the reader with a chronological account and input that serves well to illustrate time and circumstance in the life of the Master and his family lineage. FIVE STARS !
    Last edited by PalmStriker; 06-29-2018 at 11:27 PM.

  3. #18
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    Glad to hear you liked it, PalmStriker

    I've yet to hear anyone dislike it. Most say they can't put it down once they started it.

    Here's our local SF coverage:
    ‘Bruce Lee: A Life,’ by Matthew Polly
    By Yunte Huang Published 10:41 am, Friday, June 29, 2018


    “Bruce Lee” Photo: Simon & Schuster
    Photo: Simon & Schuster

    Did you know Bruce Lee was a circumcised Jew? Yes, that Bruce Lee, the man who introduced the word “kung fu” to the English language, the patron saint of martial arts. In fact, the man considered by many as the icon of Asian masculinity turned out to be five-eighths Chinese, one-quarter English, and one-eighth Dutch Jewish. But that’s not all the fascinating tidbits you can find in the illuminating, expansive and thoroughly enjoyable biography “Bruce Lee: A Life,” by Matthew Polly. In Polly, a Princeton graduate who spent two years studying kung fu at Shaolin Temple in China before writing the book “American Shaolin,” Lee cannot have found a better Boswell, a more kindred spirit.

    As if anticipating the peripatetic life journey ahead of him, Bruce Lee was born on the road between curtain calls in San Francisco on Nov. 27, 1940 , when his parents came from Hong Kong as part of a touring theatrical troupe. His father, Hoi Chuen Li, hailing from humble roots in southern China, was an actor in Cantonese opera. Bruce’s mother, Grace Ho, was a member of a wealthy Eurasian family, the Hong Kong equivalent of the Rockefellers. Her maternal grandfather, Mozes Hartog Bosman, was a Dutch Jewish tycoon who had made his fortune in Chinese coolie trade.

    Growing up in Hong Kong under British rule, young Bruce was a troubled kid. Hyperactive, severely nearsighted, an avid reader of comic books, he sported thick glasses, was a gang leader at school, and repeatedly failed to advance. A textbook juvenile delinquent, he was expelled from school in 1956 because of a trifecta of bad grades, constant fighting and increasingly violent schoolyard pranks.

    Lost on the hard pavements of a swarming colonial city, Bruce would carry switchblades and brass knuckles, itching for a fight. It appeared that our future global icon was well on his way to jail, until one day Ip Man, a kung fu master, accepted the pugnacious 15-year-old as his disciple. Master Ip was known for Wing Chun, a style of martial arts that emphasizes close-quarters combat. More than the basics of Wing Chun — low kicks, lightning-quick punches, blocks and traps, Master Ip distilled in his young disciple a sense of self-discipline, akin to the Taoist notions of being one with nature, going with the flow and bending like a reed in the wind. It was a philosophical outlook best captured later by one of Bruce Lee’s signature onscreen lines, “Be water, my friend.”

    Besides the daily training with the wooden dummy and sticky hands, Bruce also became a dance aficionado, following all the latest fads, anything from the Lindy hop to the boogie-woogie, jitterbug and jive, and acquiring the moniker of “the cha-cha champion of Hong Kong.” He also picked up acting gigs, playing comedic characters in films. Wary of the hazards of an acting career, Bruce’s father decided to send him to America to study medicine. On April 29, 1959, Bruce boarded the President Wilson at Victoria Harbor and sailed for his birth country.

    After a brief sojourn in San Francisco, Bruce went to Seattle, where for three years he lived in a walk-in closet above a Chinese restaurant and washed dishes to support himself. He attended the University of Washington, where he met a brown-haired, blue-eyed fellow student, Linda Emery. When they married in 1964, anti-miscegenation laws were dying hard in the great USA, with 17 states still banning interracial marriages. But that’s not the only racial barrier Bruce broke. When he opened a martial arts studio in Seattle, he became the first kung fu teacher in America to accept students regardless of race or ethnicity.

    In the period when karate was the hottest fad in America — Elvis Presley and Sean Connery were learning to kick and chop — Bruce’s impressive performances at karate championships and his rising reputation as a kung fu master stood him in good stead. Soon, Hollywood came calling, and Bruce landed the role of Kato in the television show “The Green Hornet.” The success of the black-masked Kato character gave Bruce a foothold in Hollywood, and he soon became sifu (teacher) to the likes of Steve McQueen, Roman Polanski, Frank Sinatra and Paul Newman.

    MORE INFORMATION
    Bruce Lee

    A Life

    By Matthew Polly

    (Simon & Schuster; 640 pages; $35)
    But the noisome racial mores in Hollywood made it impossible for Bruce to transition, as he had hoped, from teaching stars to being one. He was repeatedly snubbed for lead roles in action films, the most notorious case being the “Kung Fu” series, which features a Shaolin monk wandering the American West. That dream role, much to Bruce’s dismay, went to the white actor David Carradine.

    Disheartened, Bruce returned to Hong Kong, hoping that success there would give him a bank shot back to Hollywood. The strategy worked. “The Big Boss,” produced by Raymond Chow and premiered in October 1971, smashed all box office records, followed by “Fist of Fury” (1972), which broke records again and swept across Asia. Almost singlehandedly, Bruce put Hong Kong cinema on the world map.

    The next two films, “Way of the Dragon” (1972) and “Enter the Dragon” (1973), made Bruce the first Hong Kong and Hollywood crossover star, a feat not repeated until Jackie Chan starred in “Rush Hour” in 1998. On the eve of the release of “Enter the Dragon,” and days before his scheduled guest appearance on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show,” Lee died suddenly in the flat of his lover in Hong Kong, a tragic event still shrouded in mystery. He was only 32.

    Lee’s epic journey, his rise from a street thug to a global star, is certainly the stuff of legend. But Polly’s enthralling biography, which at times reads like a screenplay full of dialogue and mots justes, is a deeply humanizing portrait of a complicated character, a man who was at once a fitness freak and a junkie, a superhero and a superstud, someone who would flaunt his bell-bottom jeans, high-heeled Cuban boots and occasionally even a floor-length mink coat, and then would crack your skull with a nunchaku while letting out a feline yell. In the words of a Hollywood producer from that racially charged bygone era, Bruce Lee “might be too authentic.”

    Yunte Huang is a professor of English at UC Santa Barbara. His most recent book is “Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History,” published by Liveright in April.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  4. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by PalmStriker View Post
    Just finished reading Polly's Bruce Lee. What a breath of fresh air to hear of the realities behind the Legend instead of the movie script glamorization and cover-ups by friends and family to keep the tarnish from surfacing into the limelighted public domain. This book emblazons his extraordinary accomplishments while providing the reader with a chronological account and input that serves well to illustrate time and circumstance in the life of the Master and his family lineage. FIVE STARS !
    So glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for the review.

  5. #20
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    Bad Feng Shui

    Matt Polly's new book, Bruce Lee: A Life has been generating a lot of Bruce news lately. I've heard the bad feng shui thing about his Cumberland place. I prefer the 'assassinated by ninjas' theory.

    Did bad feng shui kill Bruce Lee? Talk continues to this day that it played a part in actor’s death
    Forty-five years after he died, there is still speculation that the martial arts superstar died because of a curse, with Lee’s home at 41 Cumberland Road, Kowloon Tong, long rumoured to have suffered from bad feng shui theory about his
    PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 July, 2018, 7:04am
    UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 July, 2018, 7:03am
    Staff Reporter



    According to a new biography, the Chinese icon also had English and Dutch-Jewish blood, and as an action star admired the whole world over he would have felt at home today

    There’s still speculation that Bruce Lee died because of a curse. But according to the Post publication Memoirs of an Asian Moviegoer, the word at the time was that he was a victim of bad feng shui.

    Quoting an article published a week after Lee’s death on July 20, 1973, the book says: “Lee’s sudden and untimely death last Friday immediately led a neighbour to say that he knew something bad was in the offing because a tree in the star’s home at Kowloon Tong was blown down by Typhoon Dot. [Typhoon Dot struck Hong Kong in July 1973, causing storm force winds and killing one person]. This, the neighbour claimed was a bad omen resulting in the death of Lee.”

    Feng shui is a supernatural belief that the spatial arrangement of objects can have favourable or unfavourable effects on nearby people, their wealth or poverty, health and death. When moving into a new apartment, a geomancer is hired to arrange furniture so that the feng shui is benign, and architects sometimes consult geomancers while designing buildings.

    Location can also play a role, with some areas being deemed to have bad feng shui. Kowloon Tong, where Lee lived at 41 Cumberland Road, was rumoured to have bad feng shui. (Lee did not die in Cumberland Road, but in the flat of actress Betty Ting Pei, at nearby 67 Beacon Hill Road.)


    A neon sign shines outside the Romantic Hotel occupying the house where Lee lived in Kowloon Tong. Photo: Antony Dickson

    “The Chinese press said that Bruce Lee knew about the bad feng shui prevailing in the area and he installed a feng shui deflector on the roof of his home in Cumberland Road,” the book says, quoting the same article. “This deflector, a pat kwe [bagua] – an octagon-shaped wooden frame with a mirror in the centre – was found missing after Typhoon Dot lashed Hong Kong. In the absence of it, Bruce Lee became vulnerable, some say. So the story goes that if he had lived elsewhere, Bruce Lee would have lived longer.”

    Other reports suggest that Lee’s friends Unicorn Chan and Wu Ngan set up the deflector, as they had arranged for a geomancer to examine the property before Lee moved in. Lee himself was apparently not superstitious, but he didn’t object.

    It was also rumoured that Lee’s choice of The Game of Death as the title of his next film was responsible for his death. “The Chinese press reported that film director Lo Wei [who directed Lee in The Big Boss and Fist of Fury] had warned him about the film’s name, which he said should be carefully chosen,” the book says, quoting the article.


    Lee’s picture in a funeral parlour after his death. Photo: SCMP

    Lee died of a cerebral oedema, although what brought that on has never been confirmed, and speculation has run rife since. The coroner’s inquest said that it may have been an allergic reaction to aspirin, and recorded a verdict of death by misadventure. In his biography Bruce Lee: A Life, Matthew Polly speculates that the cause of death might have been heatstroke.

    In a television interview, Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, who worked as a stuntman on the set of Lee’s Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon, said that the notion of any supernatural causes behind Lee’s death was ridiculous. “Everyone in Hong Kong knows what happened,” he said. “I don’t want to say it, but just Google it.”
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  6. #21
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    I don't care for the word 'supernatural'.

    Coincidentally (or not), Shaw Brothers star Alexander Fu Sheng was living in Bruce Lee's house at the time he died as a result of a car accident, 10 years to the month later, on July 7, 1983.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 07-06-2018 at 12:45 PM.

  7. #22
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    "George never did wake up. And, even all that talking didn't make death any easier...at least not for us. Maybe, in the end, all you can really hope for is that your last thought is a nice one...even if it's just about the taste of a nice cold beer."

    "If you find the right balance between desperation and fear you can make people believe anything"

    "Is enlightenment even possible? Or, did I drive by it like a missed exit?"

    It's simpler than you think.

    I could be completely wrong"

  8. #23
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    As far as BL being Jewish; I thought Jewish was a religion, not a race. There are Chinese Jews in China (in Henan Province, I believe). Funny, I'd always heard that BL's European blood was German. Whatever, it was supposedly enough for BL's Wing Chun classmates to get Ip Man to expel BL from his school for not being 'pure' Chinese. I've never heard of anybody describing BL as 'That Englishman,' or 'That Dutch Jew'. BL looked more like the Western image of 'purely Asian' than my dad's side of the family (all Japanese, BTW).

    If the results I always hear about from people who use DNA services like '23 and me' and others are true and accurate, EVERYBODY is a mutt. No surprise there. There is no such thing as 'pure' anything.

    I'll certainly be getting a copy of the book for myself. I'm still a fan of BL, but was never a BL worshiper. He was definitely a highly talented and fascinating person that many still either put on a pedestal or talk trash about. Some like to say that BL created a new Asian stereotype with his martial arts moves and 'cat cries'. That may be true, but it was certainly unintended on his part (his Hong Kong movies weren't even intended for Western audiences). Anybody who trashes him for that should look at the Asian stereotypes that preceded BL's superstardom (many of which amazingly still exist today).
    Last edited by Jimbo; 07-08-2018 at 11:04 AM.

  9. #24
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    INTERVIEW with KUNG FU TEA


  10. #25
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    SUMMER 2018 Kung Fu Tai Chi

    READ Bruce Lee – A Life: A New Biography from Martial Author Matthew Polly By Gene Ching in our SUMMER 2018 issue.

    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  11. #26
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    I've ordered my copy and am looking forward to it.

  12. #27
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    In honor of the 45th anniversary of the passing of Bruce Lee...

    ...our first meme for our current issue.



    THREADS:
    Summer 2018
    Bruce Lee: A Life by Matt Polly
    Bruce Lee Memorials
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  13. #28

    Good reading!!!

    I finished this book within a week and I was sorry when I finished as I truly enjoyed Matt's bio on Bruce Lee. The book had lots of information I did not know about Bruce and lots I knew, the new information was well worth the price of the book. Matt presented the single mindedness of Bruce in an era where Hollywood did not know what to make of him and certainly did not appreciate him. What also stuck out for me was how Bruce kept asking Stirling Silliphant and James Coburn to help him get The Silent Flute made and tried as they may, could not not get Hollywood interested. When Bruce finally made it big and Stirling and James asked Bruce to revisit it, Bruce was being a hard-ass about it, telling his friends he was too big. To his friends, who tried to help him. Bruce was certainly obsessively driven from the get go, as though he knew he only had a limited amount of time to do what he wanted...

    In his footnotes, Matt mentioned he did not know of any Chinese Gung Fu presented in any American TV or movie media before 1966 (?); in the 1963 movie, 55 Days at Peking with Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner, there is a scene where Hung Ga Gung Fu is demonstrated by someone from the LSW lineage, to the Chinese Imperial Court, if I'm not mistaken.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by SifuYui View Post
    In his footnotes, Matt mentioned he did not know of any Chinese Gung Fu presented in any American TV or movie media before 1966 (?); in the 1963 movie, 55 Days at Peking with Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner, there is a scene where Hung Ga Gung Fu is demonstrated by someone from the LSW lineage, to the Chinese Imperial Court, if I'm not mistaken.
    IIRC, there was a Bay Area Fut Ga master who was the first TCMAist to appear on American TV, doing demos; I think it was sometime in the 1950s(?). I forgot his name, but he was a big name in the San Francisco CMA scene back in that time period and into the '60s and maybe the '70s.

    Interesting that 55 Days at Peking would have a Hung Ga demo in it. In the 1975 Shaw Brothers movie Boxer Rebellion, directed by Chang Cheh, there is a scene in which Chi Kuan-Chun performs (I believe) Sup Ying Kuen, and Alexander Fu Sheng performs another Hung Ga set in front of the Empress Dowager, played by Lily Hua.

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by SifuYui View Post
    I finished this book within a week and I was sorry when I finished as I truly enjoyed Matt's bio on Bruce Lee. The book had lots of information I did not know about Bruce and lots I knew, the new information was well worth the price of the book. Matt presented the single mindedness of Bruce in an era where Hollywood did not know what to make of him and certainly did not appreciate him. What also stuck out for me was how Bruce kept asking Stirling Silliphant and James Coburn to help him get The Silent Flute made and tried as they may, could not not get Hollywood interested. When Bruce finally made it big and Stirling and James asked Bruce to revisit it, Bruce was being a hard-ass about it, telling his friends he was too big. To his friends, who tried to help him. Bruce was certainly obsessively driven from the get go, as though he knew he only had a limited amount of time to do what he wanted...

    In his footnotes, Matt mentioned he did not know of any Chinese Gung Fu presented in any American TV or movie media before 1966 (?); in the 1963 movie, 55 Days at Peking with Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner, there is a scene where Hung Ga Gung Fu is demonstrated by someone from the LSW lineage, to the Chinese Imperial Court, if I'm not mistaken.

    I found it ,not really Hung Ga far as I can see,but could be Hung Ga guys.
    Starts at 8:00 mints
    HIP WAH!

    https://youtu.be/3acHUlH6OYQ
    First smooth,then fast.
    Smooth is fast.

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