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Thread: Bruce Lee: A Life by Matt Polly

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    CA, USA
    Quote Originally Posted by yeshe View Post
    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!
    It looks more like some Beijing opera performers. Nevertheless, very interesting for a 1955 American movie. Although, LOL at the actors in yellowface.

    Here is the part of the scene in 1975's Boxer Rebellion where Chi Kuan-Chum demos before the Empress Dowager:

    And supposedly, the first time kung fu was featured on American TV was in 1955 on NBC's The Home Show, with Arlene Francis and Hugh Downs. Students of T.Y. Wong performed. (Source: Striking Distance: Bruce Lee and the Dawn of Martial Arts in America, by Charles Russo).
    Last edited by Jimbo; 08-25-2018 at 03:48 PM.

  2. #32
    Wow, talk about having a bad memory; that's nothing like HG, LOL! I haven't seen the movie in a long time, but remember hearing someone famous was in the clip; that's what I get for trying to do things from memory. The main performer's name is Yuen Siu Tin (the hermit who trains Jackie Chan in Snake in Eagle's Shadow and Yuen Wo Ping's father). The big guy Charlton Heston pokes the sword at is Milton Reid, a veteran of American movies.

    Thanks Yeshe for finding the clip and setting me straight, LOL!

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Better late then never

    Enter The Legend: 'Dragon' Turns 45
    Download Transcript
    August 17, 2018 4:53 AM ET
    Heard on Morning Edition

    Bruce Lee on the set of Enter the Dragon.
    Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

    When the seminal martial arts film Enter the Dragon premiered in August 1973 — 45 years ago this weekend — it was exactly what Bruce Lee had been waiting for: A starring role in a Hollywood production.

    Kung fu meets blaxploitation, and all action, Enter the Dragon was a hit at the box office. It grossed over $20 million in the United States, even beating out a Steve McQueen film, and was Warner Brothers' top grossing film internationally that year.

    It sparked an explosion of martial arts movies — which until then had largely only existed in Hong Kong. It was supposed to make Bruce Lee a star.

    "Enter the Dragon was really a very precious project for him," says Shannon Lee, Bruce's daughter. "And the one that he had been waiting for."

    What Bruce Lee wanted to do was to create a heroic Asian male character, but it simply didn't exist.

    Matthew Polly
    But a month before the film's premiere, he died. Instead of becoming a star, he became a legend.

    Before martial arts films, Lee was a child actor in Hong Kong.

    He played mostly dramatic roles. One film, The Orphan, actually made him a bit of a celebrity there — his performance was compared to James Dean's in Rebel Without a Cause.

    But any fame he had quickly disappeared when he left Hong Kong for the U.S., where he moved when his family felt he was getting in too much trouble at home. Lee, who had been a martial arts student since his early teens, decided to make a living as an instructor.

    He didn't plan on acting but was discovered by a TV producer. William Dozier, who produced the popular Batman TV series, cast Bruce Lee as sidekick Kato in The Green Hornet.


    The Green Hornet debuted on ABC on Sept. 9, 1966. Oddly enough, the original Star Trek series, featuring George Takei as Sulu, premiered the same week. Both shows were significant for casting Asian-American males in prominent roles on TV.

    That was far from the norm.

    "Up until The Green Hornet, it really was pretty much a wasteland as far as Asian-American continuous representation on television," says Jeff Yang, a writer and host of the podcast They Call Us Bruce.

    The Green Hornet didn't catch on like the Batman series and was canceled after only a year. After a few more guest spots on TV and a movie, Lee was ready to play a new type of character — one that didn't yet exist for Asian males in Hollywood.

    Bruce Lee
    A Life
    by Matthew Polly
    Hardcover, 640 pages purchase

    "What Bruce Lee wanted to do was to create a heroic Asian male character," says Matthew Polly, author of the new biography Bruce Lee: A Life. "But it simply didn't exist. There were only two types of roles — Fu Manchu, the villain, and Charlie Chan, the model minority. And both of these characters were played by white actors in multiple films during the '50s and '60s."

    It was about this time Lee caught a lucky break.

    He went back to Hong Kong to visit family and was greeted at the airport by producers eager to cast him. It had been over a decade since his last role in Hong Kong, but The Green Hornet had been playing there — except there it was called The Kato Show. Lee was again a star.

    He decided to make martial arts films for Hong Kong audiences. He made three: The Big Boss, Fist of Fury and Way of the Dragon. All were hits in Hong Kong. So Lee reached out to a producer he knew at Warner Brothers.

    Which is where Enter the Dragon, well, enters. A co-production between Lee's Hong Kong studio, Golden Harvest, and Warner Brothers, it was the first martial arts film produced by an American studio. Lee was finally the heroic Asian star of a Hollywood movie. And he kicked butt.

    Lee died a month before the film's release in the U.S. and didn't get to see the lasting influence it would have.

    Without 'Enter the Dragon' most of the video games that we associate now with martial arts — certainly all of the television shows and films that have come afterwards ... would not be the same.

    Jeff Yang
    "Without Enter the Dragon most of the video games that we associate now with martial arts — certainly all of the television shows and films that have come afterwards ... would not be the same," Yang says.

    "You know, we take for granted now that Hollywood action movies, they have martial arts, they have fight choreography, they do all this amazing stuff," says Phil Yu, the writer behind the site Angry Asian Man. "Before then we hadn't really seen martial arts in that context in a Hollywood film."

    Lee's influence stretched beyond the screen. The Wu-Tang Clan's first album, one of the landmarks of hip-hop, was called Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) in honor of Lee's last film.

    "Man, I used to bang my hands on the wall trying to get iron palms, scrape my hands with beans," says the RZA. "I got stretch marks on my shoulders because of kung fu things I was trying to do."

    Forty-five years after his death, Lee still turns up all over popular culture — just this week, Quentin Tarantino announced a new actor in his upcoming 1969 period piece, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. The role? Bruce Lee.
    Enter the Dragon
    Bruce Lee: A Life by Matt Polly
    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  4. #34
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    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    The Orphan (1960)

    From Matt Polly's facebook:
    Matthew Polly
    1 hr ·

    Thanks to my good friend Alan Canvan, I will be in Irvington, New York on Saturday, September 29 and Seattle, Washington on Friday, October 12 for a book signing, panel discussion, and special screening of Bruce Lee's 'The Orphan' (1960). It is the last movie Bruce ever made as a child actor in Hong Kong and represents one of his most intriguing performances.

    The film, unavailable in America, has been loaned to us by the Hong Kong Film Archives. So this is a unique opportunity. If you are nearby, I hope you will come. The event is free.

    I'm hoping this comes through the SF Bay Area. I've never seen The Orphan. I have seen The Kid.

    Bruce Lee filmography
    Bruce Lee: A Life by Matt Polly
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  5. #35
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    ttt 4 2019!

    Now in paperback
    New in Paperback: ‘Bruce Lee,’ ‘Fruit of the Drunken Tree’

    By Joumana Khatib
    May 30, 2019

    Six new paperbacks to check out this week.

    BRUCE LEE: A Life, by Matthew Polly. (Simon & Schuster, $20.) Among the first serious treatments of the martial arts star, this definitive biography follows Lee’s move from America to Hong Kong and back again, his time as a child star in Asia, the reverse racism he experienced and his rise to prominence in the United States. Above all, Polly explores how Lee’s fame helped reshape perceptions of Asian-Americans in the United States.

    THE OPTIMISTIC DECADE, by Heather Abel. (Algonquin, $15.95.) A back-to-the-land summer camp attracts a charismatic leader and a bevy of followers, who encounter the limits of their ideals in the Colorado desert. Our reviewer, Zoe Greenberg, called Abel “a perceptive writer whose astute observations keep the book funny and light even under the weight of its Big Ideas.”

    INDIANAPOLIS: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man, by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic. (Simon & Schuster, $18.) Nearly 900 people died when the U.S.S. Indianapolis, a Navy cruiser, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1945, but the story has long been incomplete. Vincent, a Navy veteran, and Vladic, a filmmaker, offer a fuller view of the episode.

    FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE, by Ingrid Rojas Contreras. (Anchor, $16.) Drawing on the author’s own experiences, this debut novel describes life in Escobar-era Colombia. Narrated by a young girl, Chula, and her family’s maid from a nearby slum, the story captures the despair, confusion and chaos as the country’s conflict raged. Our reviewer, Julianne Pachico, praised the book, writing, “You don’t need to have grown up in Bogotá to be taken in by Contreras’s simple but memorable prose and absorbing story line.”

    DON’T MAKE ME PULL OVER! An Informal History of the Family Road Trip, by Richard Ratay. (Scribner, $17.) This playful account conjures up the era before air travel was within reach for many American families, and explores how the Interstate transformed people’s relationship to the country. Part history, part memoir (Ratay recalls with fondness trips from his own childhood), the book is a love letter to the 1970s.

    A LUCKY MAN: Stories, by Jamel Brinkley. (Public Space/Graywolf, $16.) A finalist for the National Book Award, this collection explores race, class and intimacy in the lives of black men. In the title story, a man whose wife seems to have left him examines his expectations of what the world owes him, what he feels he can take from others and what it would mean if his good fortune ran out.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  6. #36
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    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    As if we haven't heard enough about Bruce's training already

    Bruce is exceptional but I'm posting this in Training for Movies anyway (and also in Bruce Lee: A Life by Matt Polly)

    Bruce Lee’s fitness regime and diet made him a pioneer among athletes and martial artists alike
    Enter The Dragon star was ahead of his time, reaping benefits of strength and conditioning training 50 years ago
    Lee also drank protein shakes – including a blend of entire raw hamburgers – long before they became commonplace for modern athletes
    Nicolas Atkin
    Published: 7:33pm, 20 Jun, 2019

    Bruce Lee in 1971 film The Big Boss. Photo: Handout

    Bruce Lee is known as the “Godfather of MMA” but he was also a pioneer when it came to his training regime and diet – which included drinking a blend of raw hamburger meat.
    Biographer Matthew Polly’s Bruce Lee: A Life, which was released on paperback last month, details how Lee was the first martial artist to train like a modern athlete.
    The Enter The Dragon star reaped the benefits of strength and conditioning training 50 years ago, long before it became a habit of professional sports stars to hit the gym to improve their game.
    As with his jeet kune do fighting style, which consisted of taking bits and pieces from multiple styles and blending them into one, Lee took training methods from other athletic spheres and forged them all into his own unique regime.
    Polly writes that Bruce Lee recognised that strength and conditioning training was crucial to becoming the ultimate fighter. Whereas athletes to that point would simply practise their own sport, Lee was the first to integrate outside gym work to his routine.
    Accordingly, Lee employed training methods from boxing such as skipping and road running to improve his endurance. He would run four to five miles each morning and lifted weights three nights a week, installing a squat rack, bench press, dumbbells, grip machine and an isometric machine in his garage.

    To alleviate the increased muscle aches, soreness and exhaustion brought on by such rigorous training, Lee used an idea he got from a fitness coach with NFL team the LA Rams, buying an electric muscle stimulator from James Garvey, founder of FlexTone, in 1972.
    And 21 years later in 1993, the company sold muscle stimulators to Valencia Studios in California for the production of the Bruce Lee movie Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.
    “Three minutes is like doing 200 push-ups,” said Lee, who discovered a unique way to use the technology to enhance muscle tone and definition, in tandem with his workouts.

    Lee was also an early pioneer of using protein shakes, drinking a high protein blend several times a day which contained protein powder, iced water, powdered milk, eggs, eggshells, bananas, vegetable oil, peanut flour and chocolate ice cream.
    He also used supplements long before they were commonplace for athletes, and even drank a blend of entire raw hamburgers.
    This approach to diet and fitness helped Lee with his martial arts but just importantly it helped him maintain his film star physique and good looks.

    Bruce Lee in Fist of Fury. Photo: Golden Harvest

    Lee went with lighter weights and higher repetitions to maintain a lean and ripped look, instead of getting big like a bodybuilder.
    According to Polly, Lee knew he needed to train hard to land leading roles in Hollywood, which was dominated by taller, muscle-bound white men.
    “His passion may have been the martial arts but his profession was acting,” writes Polly.
    Bruce is also on the cover of the latest Muscle and Fitness (July 2019). He's been dead for 46 years now. So bad ass.

    Learn how to keep that beach bod all summer long.

    Bruce Lee Enterprises, LLC

    The July 2019 issue of Muscle & Fitness has all the workout Opens a New Window. and nutrition Opens a New Window. tips you need to keep that shredded beach bod all summer long. Plus, in our sprawling cover story, we explore the enduring pop culture legacy of Bruce Lee, one of the fitness Opens a New Window. industry's most influential figures.

    Lee’s physique impressed millions in the 1960s and '70s—now his secrets to killer strength and overall fitness are finally revealed. Lee, who died of a cerebral edema 46 years ago, took workouts Opens a New Window. found in magazines like M&F and modified them to his needs. We dive deep into both Lee's real-life fitness program, as well as Cinemax's must-see action spectacle Warrior, which is based on Lee's own ideas.

    The July issue stays hot with training advice from CrossFit star and former Fittest Woman on Earth Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, TEST Football Opens a New Window. Academy graduate Tuzar Skipper, and WWE superstar Natalya Neidhart.

    Todd Abrams and IFBB Pro League competitor Brandan Fokken are trying to keep fathers everywhere fit with their new venture, DadBod Inc. And MusclePharm athlete Davey Fisher will walk you through his summer shred program with his workout and nutrition tips.

    Now that you’ve got that beach bod, you’ll want to keep it while also have fun during the summer. To that end, we review beers that are high on flavor, but low on calories and carbs—so drink up. We've also got plenty of grilling tips for your next backyard bash.

    And since Muscle & Fitness includes FLEX, you'll also get the latest bodybuilding news, as well as even more workouts and nutrition tips. As Mr. Olympia rapidly approaches (have you bought your tickets Opens a New Window. yet?), four-time Sandow winner Jay Cutler discusses his role as the show’s honorary ambassador. You'll also get the true story behind the controversial Arnold Classic 1990, where Shawn Ray had his title revoked following a failed drug test.

    Whether you’re continuing the cut or beginning to bulk, we’ve got all the tips and tricks you need right here in Muscle & Fitness Opens a New Window. and FLEX.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  7. #37
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Controversy begets buzz, especially for QT

    Why the Bruce Lee Fight in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Has Become the Movie's Most Controversial Scene
    The martial arts master's biographer weighs in on the divisive fight scene with Brad Pitt.
    AUG 7, 2019


    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood earned Quentin Tarantino his best opening weekend box office ever—exceeding forecasts despite being a nearly three-hour long R-rated film that opened while the Lion King remake was still holding strong. But despite also being well received by critics, the film has provoked debate. Its treatment of women has been scrutinized; female characters receive brutal beatings but little dialogue. And one single scene has also been the subject of heated controversy. Here’s a guide to the debate over the movie’s fight scene between real-life actor and martial arts legend Bruce Lee, played by Mike Moh, and Brad Pitt’s character, fictional stuntman Cliff Booth.

    What happens in the movie?

    In the film, Pitt’s character, Booth, has a flashback while repairing a TV antenna for his boss and best friend, Leonardo DiCaprio’s also-fictional western star Rick Dalton. While on Dalton’s roof, Booth remembers an encounter with Bruce Lee on the Green Hornet set. In the memory, Moh’s Lee holds court among stuntmen and crew members, giving a pompous speech and saying that if he fought Cassius Clay, as legendary fighter Muhammad Ali was still often called in the ‘60s, he’d “make him a cripple.” This elicits chuckles from Pitt’s Booth, who calls Lee “a little man with a big mouth and a big chip,” who "should be embarrassed to suggest [he’d] be anything more than a stain on the seat of Cassius Clay’s trunks.”

    Lee proposes a three-round fight to see which man can put the other “on his butt.” In the first round, Lee kicks Booth squarely in the chest, flooring him. He then attacks with a second flying kick, but Booth catches him and hurls him into a car. Before the match can be settled in the third and final round, the two men are interrupted, and Booth is fired for the fight. Flashing back to the present, a Booth still on Dalton’s roof declares his dismissal “fair enough.”


    Was the scene accurate?

    Lee did star in The Green Hornet, as the crime fighter’s sidekick and valet, Kato. But according to Lee biographer Matthew Polly, the scene was inaccurate in many ways. Lee “revered” Muhammad Ali, Polly told Esquire. "So the part in the movie where the Lee character says he would ‘cripple’ [the boxer] and Brad Pitt’s character comes to Ali’s defense is not only completely inaccurate, it turns Lee into a disrespectful blowhard and jerk.”

    And while Lee was known to have fought stuntmen on some of his sets once he returned to Hong Kong, "he never started the fights, they always came up to him and challenged him,” Polly says. He also always defeated these challengers handily, with their fights ending within 20 seconds.

    Lee also had a reputation for being kind to lower-ranking members of the cast and crews of the projects on which he worked. "Bruce was very famous for being very considerate of the people below him on film sets, particularly the stuntmen. He would often like buy them meals, or once he got famous, take them out to eat, or hand them a little extra cash, or look after their careers,” says Polly. "So in this scene, Bruce Lee is essentially calling out a stuntman and getting him fired because he’s the big star. And that’s just not who Bruce Lee was as a person."

    Bruce Lee on the set of Enter the Dragon, directed by Robert Clouse.
    Warner Bros. Pictures

    Why do some people have a problem with it?

    Despite having some basis in reality, Once Upon a Time is a fictional work—its ending proves that much. But Lee, who died in 1973, was a real-life person, and is still beloved worldwide as the most influential martial artist ever, and as one of the most iconic Asian American movie stars. He braved Hollywood’s racism and became a global superstar, decades before the American film industry would begin to improve upon its historically bigoted and emasculating depiction of Asian men.

    In short, his legacy is worthy of the respectful good taste with which Tarantino treats the other real-life figures that appear in the film, including Manson victims Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring, and Lee’s fellow Hollywood legend Steve McQueen. But Moh’s Lee is written as a bloviating ass whose presence was played for laughs and to give Booth’s character credibility as a skilled fighter. And while the fight is technically a draw, Booth loses his round with a pretty dignified fall on his butt—while Lee is thrown into a car by an anonymous, middle-aged stuntman.

    "There’s nothing else to call him but the butt of the joke, because everything that makes him powerful is the very thing that makes him laughable in the film,” film scholar Nancy Wang Yuen told the LA Times. “His kung fu becomes a joke, and his philosophizing becomes a fortune cookie, and the sounds that he makes as he does kung fu are literally made fun of by Cliff. They made his arrogance look like he was a fraud.”

    While Sharon Tate’s family signed off on her portrayal in the film, Shannon Lee wasn’t consulted on her late father’s depiction. "It was really uncomfortable to sit in the theater and listen to people laugh at my father,” she told The Wrap. "What I’m interested in is raising the consciousness of who Bruce Lee was as a human being and how he lived his life,” said. “All of that was flushed down the toilet in this portrayal, and made my father into this arrogant punching bag.”

    On Monday, it emerged that an early version of the scene would have seen Moh’s Lee even more decisively humiliated. In an interview with HuffPost, Once Upon a Time’s stunt coordinator revealed that the original script saw Booth’s fight with Lee going a full three rounds—with Lee losing in the end. "I know that Brad had expressed his concerns, and we all had concerns about Bruce losing,” said Alonzo.

    Being an Asian American myself, I definitely related to how Bruce was a symbol of how Asians should be portrayed in movies, instead of the old Breakfast at Tiffany’s model that was really prevalent back in the day. … I had a difficult time choreographing a fight where he lost. Everyone involved was like, "How is this going to go over?" Brad was very much against it. He was like, "It’s Bruce Lee, man!”
    "I love Quentin Tarantino. I absolutely adore his films, and I think every filmmaker has the right to do whatever they want with history,” said Polly. "What bothered me was that he was very reverential and sympathetic with Steve McQueen, Sharon Tate, and Jay Sebring, but Bruce’s portrayal was more mocking. And given that Bruce was the only non white historical figure in the whole film, I thought that was problematic."
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  8. #38
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Continued from previous post

    What do the Tarantino’s defenders say?

    Defenders of the portrayal point out that Tarantino is an avowed Bruce Lee fan, who even based Uma Tarantino’s Kill Bill jumpsuit on an outfit Lee wore in his last film.

    And critic Walter Chaw, who counts Lee as his hero, found that Moh’s Lee felt humanized. "I would argue Tarantino’s decision to have Booth fight Lee to a draw doesn’t doesn’t take the air out of Lee; it takes the air out of the constructed mystique that Lee was forced to maintain,” he wrote for Vulture. "That by allowing Lee to regain a portion of his humanity, Tarantino is offering a different, more generous kind of Asian-American representation onscreen.”

    He was concerned, however, by hearing audience members in the theater laughing at Moh’s portrayal of the Chinese-accented Lee. "If you watch the new Tarantino, and there's any kind of audience, take note of how the audience reacts to the Bruce Lee impersonation,” Chaw tweeted. "This is what systemic racism looks like. Not the performance which is perfect, the reaction which is hard-wired into members of this culture."

    Sony Pictures' "Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals
    Mike Moh arrives at the Sony Pictures’ "Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood" Los Angeles Premiere on July 22, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
    Steve Granitz

    Mike Moh also spoke about the scene. In an interview with Birth. Movies. Death, he also expressed feeling torn about the sequence. “When I first read it, I was like, wow,” he told the website. "I’m not going to tell you what the original script had exactly, but when I read it, I was so conflicted because he’s my hero—Bruce in my mind was literally a God.”

    But like Chaw, he described the scene as humanizing Lee:
    I can see how people might think Bruce got beat because of the impact with the car, but you give me five more seconds and Bruce would have won. So I know people are going to be up in arms about it, but when I went into my deep dive of studying Bruce, he more than anybody wanted people to know he's human. And I think I respect him m
    ore knowing that he had these challenges, these obstacles, just like everybody.

    Why did Tarantino write the scene like that?

    The Bruce Lee fight had a clear purpose. Booth is an underemployed stuntman who spends his day-to-day running errands for his boss, which doesn’t provide a lot of opportunity for the character to showcase his fighting skill before the film’s bloody finale. Depicting him as being at least as good, and potentially even a better fighter than Bruce Lee makes it a bit more credible when—spoiler—he takes on murderous Manson cultists in the film’s finale. But again, that boils down to tearing down an Asian-American icon in order to build up a fictional white guy.

    It also fits in with the film’s allegiances, which lie with the fading Western stars of the late 1960s. "I suspect the reason Tarantino felt the need to take Bruce down a notch is because Lee’s introduction of Eastern martial arts to Hollywood fight choreography represented a threat to the livelihood of old Western stuntmen like Cliff Booth, who were often incapable of adapting to a new era,” Polly told The Wrap, " and the film’s nostalgic, revisionist sympathies are entirely with the cowboys.”

    But as the end of the film serves as a rather sweet revisionist history, a portrait of a world in which the Manson Family never made it to 10050 Cielo Drive, the movie itself has an altogether more troubling eye for the past. In the world of Once Upon a Time, beautiful women like Sharon Tate dance often and speak little, and the old guard of white men squash all challenges to their dominance.

    "In a movie where Tarantino changes history to fit his violent wish fulfillment,” wrote filmmaker Joseph Kahn on Twitter, "it's odd that his revisionist fantasy of Bruce Lee is that he is a fraud who can easily be overpowered and smacked around by his cowboy avatar."

    Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture.
    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
    Bruce Lee: A Life by Matt Polly[/QUOTE]
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  9. #39
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    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    I can't even imagine Bruce in his 70s. Forever young.

    Bruce Lee: 10 more things you probably didn’t know about the Hong Kong martial arts superstar
    To celebrate Hong Kong kung fu legend Bruce Lee’s birthday, here are 10 lesser-known facts about the cultural icon
    Find out why he was called ‘Chicken Legs’ at school, why he took up kung fu and what car he bought when he first came into some money
    SCMP Reporter
    Published: 10:00pm, 26 Nov, 2019

    Hong Kong martial arts superstar Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon (1973). Photo: Alamy

    Hong Kong martial arts superstar Bruce Lee was born on November 27, 1940. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about him.

    1. According to Matthew Polly’s in-depth biography Bruce Lee: A Life, Lee’s nickname at school was “Gorilla”. He acquired this slightly derogatory moniker because, as Hawkins Cheung, his school friend at St Francis Xavier’s School, remembered, “he was muscular and walked around with his arms at his sides”.
    Most of the schoolkids were scared of Lee, but as Cheung was one of his closest friends, he made up his own nickname for him: he called him “Chicken Legs”, because of Lee’s muscular torso and apparently scrawny legs. Hawkins said that Lee used to get mad at him when he used this name and would chase him around the schoolyard.

    2. Although he came from a middle-class home, the young Lee was a tearaway who loved street-fighting.
    “As a kid in Hong Kong, I was a punk and went looking for fights,” he told Black Belt magazine. “We used chains and pens with knives hidden inside. Then, one day, I began to wonder what would happen if I didn’t have my gang behind me when I got into a fight.”

    Lee was called both “Gorilla” and “Chicken Legs” at school. Photo: Alamy

    This revelation was to change the course of his life, as he started thinking about learning martial arts. “I only took up kung fu when I began to feel insecure,” he said.

    3. One of Lee’s early girlfriends was a Japanese-American student named Amy Sanbo. She initially rebuffed his romantic overtures, but he was persistent.
    The turning point came when she stepped on a nail in her ballet class and had to walk around on crutches. When Lee noticed Sanbo struggling to ascend a tall flight of concrete stairs, he picked her up and carried her to the top. The two had an on-off relationship for two years after that.
    4. Bruce Lee and I is a 1976 feature film that purports to tell the story of Betty Ting Pei, the woman Lee was with the night he died. Bizarrely, Ting starred in the film as herself, and is seen cavorting in bed with Danny Lee Sau-yin, who plays Bruce.
    “Betty Ting Pei nearly got the chance to act out her real-life drama in Bruce Lee and I, but the director had other ideas … the director [Lo Mar] decided to make what happened in her bedroom that night look all part of her imagination,” a critic wrote at the time.

    Lee in 1960s TV series The Green Hornet. Photo: Alamy

    5. Lee’s on-screen martial arts career didn’t get off to a good start on The Green Hornet, the American TV show which gave him his first taste of fame in the West.
    It wasn’t that he performed badly – he just moved too fast for the cameras. After shooting a scene in which he was so fast no one could see the moves he was making, resulting in laughter from the show’s cast and crew, Lee stormed into his dressing room in a bad mood.
    After that he modified his approach. “By god, did he slow it down,” said The Green Hornet’s star Van Williams. Lee played the Hornet’s assistant Kato in the series.

    Lee in The Green Hornet. Photo: Alamy

    6. Lee really loved cars, but while he was teaching martial arts in the US, he could only afford an unglamorous Chevrolet “Chevy” Nova (the car had a sticker in the back window that read “This car is protected by the Green Hornet”).
    A friend sometimes let him drive a supercool Shelby Cobra (called the AC Cobra in Britain), but what he really wanted was the sports car his best buddy Steve McQueen owned: a Porsche Targa.
    When Lee’s mother sent him his share of the proceeds from an apartment she’d sold in Hong Kong, he went straight out to buy the Porsche, even though he couldn’t really afford it.

    7. Veteran film director Lo Wei, who directed Lee in The Big Boss, made the mistake of telling a newspaper that he taught Bruce how to fight in front of the cameras. Even worse, he dared to call himself “The Dragon’s Mentor”. When he found out, an enraged Lee rushed over to where Lo was filming and threatened to beat him up. Lee only calmed down when Lo’s wife Gladys intervened.

    The Bruce Lee statue along Hong Kong’s Avenue of Stars. Photo: Alamy

    8. Bruce’s younger brother Robert Lee Jun-fai was a famous pop musician in Hong Kong. He was lead singer of the Thunderbirds, a successful group of the mid-1960s, and sang in English. He released a posthumous tribute to his brother called The Ballad of Bruce Lee in 1974.
    9. When Lee’s first martial arts film The Big Boss was released in Hong Kong in 1971, it beat the city’s box-office record set by a very different kind of film – the musical The Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews, which had been released in 1965. The Big Boss was a surprise box-office hit.

    Lee in Enter the Dragon. Photo: Alamy

    10. The 1976 “biopic” Bruce Lee: True Story – one of many shoddy films about the star made after his death – depicted a few completely different versions of how he died. One of these endings featured the unusual idea that Lee was not actually dead at all, and was planning to re-emerge in the 1980s.
    “[The film] means well and is a briskly paced and slickly conceived effort,” film trade newspaper Variety said in a review at the time, but noted: “there is very little said about the man and his personal life”.
    HBD Bruce
    Bruce Lee: A Life by Matt Polly
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  10. #40
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    Bruce Lee: A Life by Matt Polly

    Sundance documentary ‘Be Water’ aims to show the man underneath the legend of Bruce Lee
    Entertainment | January 23, 2020
    Ryan Kostecka

    The Sundance documentary “Be Water” aims to give audiences a more intimate look at Bruce Lee than what they saw on screen in his martial arts films.
    Courtesy of the Sundance Institute
    “Be Water,” an entry in the Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Documentary Competition, is set to screen at the following times and locations:

    Saturday, Jan. 25, 2:30 p.m., The MARC Theatre

    Sunday, Jan. 26, 9:30 p.m., Rose Wagner Center, Salt Lake City

    Monday, Jan. 27 at 9:45 p.m., The Ray Theatre

    Thursday, Jan. 30, noon, Redstone Cinemas 7

    Friday, Jan. 31, 6 p.m., Sundance Mountain Resort Screening Room, Sundance Resort

    Saturday, Feb. 1, 8:30 a.m., Prospector Square Theatre
    Make no doubt about it — this was personal for director Bao Nguyen.

    Nguyen, the child of Vietnamese war refugees, gave up a career in law to pursue his passion for film — a decision that he doesn’t regret.

    Everything Nguyen has worked for culminated in his latest film, “Be Water,” a documentary about martial artist and actor Bruce Lee returning to Hong Kong in 1971 to achieve the stardom that eluded him in America before his death in 1973. “Be Water” is an entry in the Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Documentary Competition and marks Nguyen’s first appearance at the festival.

    “I’m Asian American, so to me, Bruce Lee is one of those heroes that I connected with immediately on how he looks and appears on screen,” Nguyen said. “There aren’t many Asian American heroes, so watching him on TV as I grew up was brand new to me. His story was one I didn’t know, so I wanted to explore how he broke through Hollywood following his death.”

    Nguyen said that, through his research, he learned how difficult it was to be Asian American during the 1960s and 1970s, especially as someone trying to break into acting. So telling Lee’s story in a different way from others who’ve attempted to tell it was important to him. He said it was important to acknowledge what Lee overcame to achieve greatness and a continuing place in the culture decades after his early death.

    “I’ve always wanted to explore stories that were personal and could speak to a larger audience. … And lately there’s been a lot of talk about diversity on screen, so I felt that this movie about him would be right,” Nguyen said. “There are so many people out in the world who have different affections for him, so making a personal film about him that’s also not related to him, it just connects with me and hopefully others.”

    If he were still alive, Lee would turn 80 this year, so the timing of the movie couldn’t have been better for Nguyen. The people who knew Lee personally are getting older, which made it imperative for Nguyen to make the film as soon as possible.

    He credits his team for going through old footage to tell the story. He wanted to build an immersive world that would make viewers feel as if they’re living in a story, one in which they’re seeing Lee in the present tense, brought back to life, rather than the legendary figure audiences have come to know.

    “There are so many intimate stories about him as a person that people don’t know compared to the legend, the mythical martial artist,” Nguyen said. “That’s the story my team and I wanted to show. It was difficult because back then, people didn’t have iPhones shooting everything. Finding the archival films and bringing those to new life with the relative interviews. … Building that story from the past was the goal.”

    Nguyen said he found success with the film because of the questions he asked to those who knew Lee. For decades, the same people have been asked the same questions about Lee — but Nguyen wanted to dig deeper. His questions were more personal in nature and enticed the interviewees to open up and help show off a different side of Lee that has never been portrayed before.
    I heard about Be Water from Matthew Polly. I understand he is involved in this project. That's what he tweeted:
    Matthew Polly
    I'm proud to announce that the new ESPN Bruce Lee documentary, 'Be Water,' which is based on my book and on which I served as Executive Producer, has been accepted to the Sundance Film Festival.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  11. #41
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    Criterion Collection

    Lifestyle / Entertainment
    Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits – Criterion Collection producer on preserving the martial arts icon’s legacy with new box set
    Box set collects together all of Bruce Lee’s films, along with commentaries and special features, and producer Curtis Tsui says Lee still has cultural relevance
    ‘He left a small body of work, but behind it was a way of addressing life … that we could implement,’ Tsui says of the actor, who died in Hong Kong in 1973
    Richard James Havis
    Published: 5:00am, 12 Jul, 2020

    Bruce Lee in a still from Fist of Fury (1972), one of the films featured in a Criterion Collection box set being released this week with introductions that put the martial arts icon’s films in context, and mini-documentaries. Photo: Criterion Collection

    Fans of Bruce Lee are in for a bonanza this week when esteemed home-video distribution company Criterion Collection release a seven-disc Blu-ray box set called Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits.
    For release on July 14, the box set, put together by New York-based producer Curtis Tsui for Criterion, collects together all of Lee’s martial arts films, along with a plethora of special features and commentaries, to provide a comprehensive overview of the actor’s life and career.
    Lee is still popular enough in the United States to warrant such an extensive release, says Tsui, noting that the martial artist’s philosophy of life fits the mood of the times.
    “People are still hungry for Bruce Lee, and he has a cultural relevance,” he says. “Symbolically speaking, Lee has always spoken for a kind of oneness in humanity, about looking beyond our differences and finding what is similar in all of us and finding solidarity there.
    “You can look at that in relation to the way he lived his own life as a teacher who went against the strict doctrine of traditional martial arts instructors by opening his school up to everyone. He showed us that everyone could use martial arts to better ourselves and to strengthen ourselves. That has a lot of meaning for people here, and it’s a key element of his continued popularity,” Tsui tells the Post.
    “There was an entire philosophy behind Lee’s on-screen presence. He left a small body of work, but behind it was a way of addressing life, of addressing ourselves, that we could implement. That’s why people are still interested in him today,” Tsui says.

    The films in the box set include The Big Boss, Fist of Fury , The Way of the Dragon, the shorter US theatrical version and the special edition of Enter the Dragon , and Game of Death. The movies are introduced by Lee biographer Matthew Polly, author of Bruce Lee: A Life, and feature commentaries by Enter the Dragon producer Paul Heller and Bruce Lee expert Mike Leeder.
    The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, and Way of the Dragon feature Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, and English dialogue tracks.
    The special features are a combination of already existing licensed content, and new mini-documentaries and introductions produced by Tsui. These include an enthralling examination of the “Bruceploitation” genre – exploitation movies that were made after Lee’s death which feature lookalikes and old footage of the star – and an enlightening documentary about the English-language voice artists who dubbed Lee’s films in Hong Kong for their international release in the 1970s.
    Tsui licensed Lee’s first three martial arts films, which had already been restored in 4K, and Game of Death, from Hong Kong company Fortune Star. Acquiring rights can be tricky, and Tsui was thrilled to obtain permission from Warner Brothers to include Enter the Dragon, so that North American fans could have the films together in one collection.
    “Enter the Dragon really makes this box set special,” says Tsui. “We are including the shorter 99-minute original US theatrical version of the film, as well as the longer ‘special edition’ release. The theatrical cut has not been available since the days of the laser disc in the 1990s, and fans have been clamouring to see it for some time.” Both versions are presented in new 2K restorations.

    The films feature lengthy introductions by Polly, which set the films in context and provide some film history and biographical notes. His introduction to Fist of Fury, for instance, features an opinion about how Lee’s style of acting was influenced by watching Japanese samurai films, and he also talks about Huo Yuanjia, the real-life martial arts master whose death provides the premise for the story.

    Bruce Lee in a still from The Way of the Dragon (1972). Photo: Criterion Collection

    “I wanted to have someone reflect on the films in relation to Lee’s life, rather than vice versa,” says Tsui. “There’s usually a big focus on his life, and the people that he knew and met. I wanted someone who could succinctly focus on the movies and talk about them as films, and what they mean to the genre,” Tsui says. “That’s what Matthew brings to the discs.”
    Tsui also made a short film about the dubbing artists who dubbed Lee’s films into English in the 1970s, Michael Kaye and Vaughan Savidge. This provides some fascinating insights. Although the dubbing in martial arts films is usually disparaged, both voice artists say they were committed to the work, and enjoyed it.
    Most dubbing in Hong Kong in the early 1970s was done by expatriate radio and television announcers who wanted to earn some extra money. Films were dubbed into English primarily for a release in the Philippines, they say, and the voice artists had to fit a translation of the script to a voice soundtrack in Mandarin and the lip movements of the actors – so a lot of improvisation was necessary. The voice artists even supplied Lee’s trademark whoops and screeches in the dubbed versions, they say.

    Bruce Lee in a still from The Big Boss (1971). Photo: Criterion Collection

    “The experience of watching the films with the dubbed soundtracks can’t be buried, and it’s something that we have to talk about,” says Tsui, who notes that one of Lee’s voice artists now works for Criterion. “They might even have added to our enjoyment of the movies. When you see the way they had to work, you see how impossible a task it was. They were not being slipshod, they were trying hard to make it work.”
    Another short film Tsui produced features author and film historian Grady Hendrix, who scripted Netflix’s recent Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks documentary, talking about the Bruceploitation genre. Those films were an attempt to fill the gap left by Lee when he died in 1973.
    “I don’t think there has been anything like it in the history of cinema,” says Tsui of the genre. “It’s both amazing and horrifying at the same time.”

    Bruce Lee in a still from Enter the Dragon (1973). Photo: Criterion Collection
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  12. #42
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    only 7?

    7 Reasons Bruce Lee Continues to Kick Butt

    BY DAVE ROOS NOV 2, 2020

    A publicity portrait of Bruce Lee from the 1972 film "The Way of the Dragon." WARNER BROTHERS/GETTY IMAGES
    When the kung fu legend Bruce Lee is on screen, it's hard to take your eyes off of him. Consider Lee's cocky swagger as he swipes at his nose and beckons his opponent — or sometimes a roomful of opponents — to give it their best shot. You know how this is going to end, with a punishing flurry of kicks and punches, and Lee standing over his vanquished foes flexing his taut torso.

    The Bruce Lee made famous in films like 1973's "Enter the Dragon" is the ultimate badass, an unbeatable kung fu warrior, and for most Westerners that's the only Bruce Lee they ever knew. Lee died under mysterious circumstances at only 32 years old, just as his Hollywood star was beginning to shine.

    But who was the real Bruce Lee? And how did his childhood and upbringing in Hong Kong and America help shape the man who would become an actor and dancer years before he became a kung fu master? For answers, we spoke with Matthew Polly, author of the eye-opening biography, "Bruce Lee: A Life." Here are seven essential things to know about this iconic star.

    1. Lee Was Born in the U.S.A. and Had Jewish Ancestry
    In America, we think of Bruce Lee as a Chinese actor who made it big in Hollywood, but Bruce was actually born in America and comes from an ethnically diverse family tree.

    In his biography, Polly reveals that Lee's maternal great grandfather was a Dutch-Jewish merchant named Mozes Hartog Bosman, who sailed to Hong Kong in the 1850s with the Dutch East India Company. Bosman eventually became the Dutch ambassador to Hong Kong and had six children with his Chinese concubine. One of those children, Ho Kom-tong, grew fabulously wealthy and had a British mistress in addition to his wife and 13 concubines. Bruce Lee's mother was the 30th child of Ho, who was half Jewish, and his British girlfriend.

    Bruce's father, on the other hand, was 100-percent Han Chinese and born into poverty. He escaped through his singing voice, becoming a famous Cantonese opera star and actor. He was touring in the United States when Bruce was born in San Francisco in 1940. Bruce's parents named him Li Jun Fan, and a nurse at the hospital suggested Bruce as his English name. The Lee family moved back to Hong Kong when Bruce was still a baby, and Lee grew up attending English-language private schools.

    Throughout his life, Lee bounced back and forth between two worlds, Chinese and American, but never felt like he fit fully into either one. In China, he was a Eurasian with an American passport. In America, he was a Chinese guy with a funny accent. Polly thinks this is key to understanding Lee's persona.

    "He didn't quite fit in anywhere and I think it's why he has this wide appeal to various groups," says Polly. "He has this outsider status — he's not of any one tribe."

    2. He Was a Small, Sickly Kid Who Became a Street Fighter
    Bruce's early years in Hong Kong coincided with a brutal three-year occupation by Imperial Japan. Lee was small to begin with, but was further weakened by strict food rations and a cholera epidemic. He grew into a frail and skinny boy with one leg shorter than the other, an undescended testicle and bad acne.

    But Lee was also a whirlwind of energy and a natural-born troublemaker. He constantly picked fights to prove his manhood, and Polly says he earned a reputation in the Hong Kong streets not as a gangster, exactly, but a "middle-class tough guy."

    "Bruce Lee fits into the pattern of a young boy who felt weaker and had a bit of a chip on his shoulder," says Polly. "He got very interested in physical dominance in order to project himself out in a world in which he felt threatened."

    When Lee was a teenager, he got trounced by another kid who was studying Wing Chun, a school of kung fu or Chinese-style martial arts. Unwilling to accept defeat, Lee decided to up his game and began studying kung fu at the age of 15 or 16.

    3. He Was an Actor (and Dancer) First
    Lee's opera singer father also acted in Cantonese movies and musicals, and Bruce grew up on movie sets. He first appeared on film as an infant stand-in at just 3 months old, but his first starring role as a child actor was in a popular 1950 Hong Kong movie called "The Kid" filmed when Lee was 10. Polly says that he even debuted some of his classic moves in "The Kid," like swiping at his nose before a fight and ripping open his shirt.

    "The Kid" was a huge success, and Bruce was signed on to do sequels that would have made him the Cantonese MaCaulay Culkin, but his father stepped in. The elder Lee wanted his kids to be doctors and lawyers, not actors, and Bruce was constantly getting in trouble at school anyway. His father squashed his chance at child stardom, but Bruce acted on and off in small Hong Kong movies throughout the 1950s.

    "By the time Bruce was 18, he had appeared in 20 Cantonese movies and none of them were kung fu flicks," says Polly. "Watching those 20 movies, you see that Bruce was an actor first who later becomes a martial artist."

    Lee was also a talented dancer, once winning a Hong Kong "cha-cha" contest.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  13. #43
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    continued from previous post

    4. Lee's First Hollywood Break Was as Kung Fu Instructor to the Stars
    Bruce's parents sent him off to America for college, where the spoiled kid from Hong Kong got his first taste of supporting himself. In Seattle, between classes at the University of Washington, Lee worked as a busboy in a Chinese restaurant and slept there in a glorified closet. Word of his martial arts skills got around and soon Bruce was teaching some kung fu classes on the side.

    It wasn't long before Bruce's side gig overshadowed his studies. Lee dropped out of school and hatched a plan to open a franchise of martial arts schools along the West Coast. "It was going to be the McDonald's of kung fu," jokes Polly. To drum up business, Lee traveled to Los Angeles to give a demonstration at a karate tournament where he caught the attention of a TV producer. This led to Bruce's first and only role on American television as the fast-fisted sidekick Kato on the forgettable 1966 series "The Green Hornet."

    The show was canceled after just one season, but Bruce hung around in Hollywood hoping for his next big break. He scored a few bit parts over the next four years, but Polly says Bruce mostly made his living as a kung fu instructor to the Hollywood elite.

    "Steve McQueen was one of his students, so was James Coburn and Roman Polanski," says Polly. "Bruce was charging the equivalent of $1,000 an hour."

    5. Back in Hong Kong, a Kung Fu Legend Was Born
    Even with his high-profile clients, Bruce got himself into some financial trouble and needed some fast cash to dig out of debt. He decided to fly back to Hong Kong for a few months, take some roles in "cheapo" kung fu movies and earn enough money to come back to Los Angeles.

    The first of these Hong Kong movies was called "The Big Boss," and Lee wasn't even supposed to be the lead. It was already in production when he arrived, Polly says, but Lee was "so charismatic they killed off the lead actor and made him the star."

    Bruce Lee on the set of 1971's "The Big Boss," written and directed by Wei Lo.
    The movie was the first to feature his unique style of fight choreography. At the time, fight scenes in most kung fu movies looked like dance routines, but Bruce's fight choreography, informed by years of martial arts mastery, packed a wallop.

    "What he was doing was a kind of heightened realism," says Polly. "When he hit somebody, it felt like a real hit, like there's real violence occurring. What Bruce created is still the dominant form of fight choreography in Hollywood movies to this day."

    "The Big Boss" was a breakout hit and propelled Lee into a new stratosphere of fame, at least in Asia.

    "'The movie blew the box office record out of the water and suddenly Bruce was like the Beatles in Hong Kong and all of Southeast Asia," says Polly.

    Bruce followed up with two more wildly popular kung fu movies filmed in Hong Kong, "Fists of Fury" and "The Way of the Dragon," that caught the attention of American producers. It was time to parlay Bruce's Asian stardom into the Hollywood career of his dreams.

    6. His Death Launched a Thousand Conspiracy Theories
    1973's "Enter the Dragon" was supposed to be the film that made Bruce Lee a household name. And it was, but Lee didn't live to see it.

    Bruce Lee practices martial arts with a group of students in a scene from the 1973 film "Enter The Dragon."
    A month before the film premiered in the United States, Lee was at his mistress' apartment in Hong Kong when he complained of a headache, took a prescription pain reliever and lay down for a nap. He never woke up. He was only 32 years old, leaving his young wife Linda to care for their two children, Brandon and Shannon.

    The odd circumstances and mysterious nature of his death became fodder for conspiracy theories — that he was killed by ninjas or given the "touch of death" by a rival kung fu master — but the official cause of death was listed as a brain edema caused by an allergic reaction to the pain reliever, which he had been taking for months for a back injury.

    Polly thinks that a better explanation is heat stroke. Ten days before his death, Lee collapsed while dubbing a film in an un-air-conditioned room in Hong Kong's sweltering heat. The day he died was also exceptionally hot, and Lee spent part of the afternoon practicing moves for an upcoming role. His body may simply have given out.

    "Enter the Dragon" became a touchstone of popular culture, introducing Western audiences to the archetype of the kung fu hero, and earning Bruce the posthumous fame that had eluded him in life.

    "Before 'Enter the Dragon,' Bruce was basically a no-name actor from an obscure TV show," says Polly, "and then the movie came out and he became an international sensation a month after his death."

    7. He's the Reason Martial Arts Are So Popular in the West
    "Bruce Lee is perhaps the only iconic figure from the 20th century who died before he became famous," says Polly, "and that's why he became a mythological figure."

    Lee didn't live long enough to give endless press interviews, to attend glitzy award shows or to get drunk and wreck his sports car on Sunset Boulevard. One of the advantages of dying young, says Polly, is that people can project their own image onto you. This is how Bruce Lee becomes the legendary kung fu hero and the ultimate warrior.

    And on a cultural level, Polly says that it's hard to overestimate the influence that Bruce Lee's films had on popularizing the martial arts in the West.

    "Before 'Enter the Dragon,' there were about 10,000 people who studied the martial arts in America," says Polly, himself an enthusiast, "and now it's like 40 million. He introduced more westerners to Asian culture than any other figure in modern history."
    Surprised this article didn't reference his 80th.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  14. #44
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    Holy stuff

    Holy stuff’ - Bruce Lee’s letters document shipments and orders of cocaine, acid, other drugs
    Recently revealed letters from Bruce Lee allegedly detail international drug shipments to Hong Kong.

    By Anton Tabuena@antontabuena Jul 6, 2021, 12:59pm EDT

    Bruce Lee on the poster of Fist of Fury Photo by Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images

    BruceBruce Lee’s marijuana use has been recently well documented, mostly thanks to Matthew Polly’s 2018 biography on the martial arts icon that had him interview at least a hundred of his friends, family, and colleagues. Lee was said to have enjoyed smoking weed and ingesting hashish because “it raises the consciousness level,” but did the actor have a more serious drug habit?

    Enter Robert Baker, who started out as a volunteer for the iconic “one inch punch” demonstration in 1964, and would eventually become Lee’s close friend and confidant.

    Baker would be known for his role in Lee’s 1972 film Fists of Fury, but according to Polly, he was also “long rumored to be Bruce’s dealer.” The author of Bruce Lee: A Life stated that it was “assumed by many” that Bob, as he was called, simply supplied the actor with marijuana.

    Recently released private letters between the two seem to suggest that it was much more than that.

    Heritage Auctions has since authenticated and put up various memorabilia from Bob Baker’s Bruce Lee collection on sale, which includes over 50 letters that Bruce and his wife, Linda sent him through the years. Most of them were handwritten, and many used Lee’s personal Jeet Kune Do letterhead stationeries.

    These personal correspondence discussed various topics such as their developing friendship, plans for their film careers, and Lee’s back injuries. Perhaps more striking, it also contains numerous references to drugs, including marijuana as well as cocaine.

    The handwritten letters allegedly document different instances of Lee trying Baker’s “holy stuff,” recovering from their get togethers, and having nights out with “little recollection of what had happened.”

    There was also a letter with a short-lived attempt at quitting.

    “I told Linda to call you to forget about the ‘stuff’ because I really don’t need them in my training,” a letter from 1970 read. “I feel that I have ‘gained’ in trying them, but excessive indulgence of them just isn’t in my road in Jeet Kune Do.”

    By 1972, as Lee left the US and moved to Hong Kong, the letters included requests to Baker for “advice on the possibility of shipping some coke to me.”

    Hong Kong had very strict drug laws, but he supposedly proposed a plan on shipping drugs to an address under the name “Wu Ngan,” and hiding the contraband inside books and clothes. Wu Ngan was one of Lee’s friends, who had a role in his 1972 movie, The Way of the Dragon.

    In one letter authenticated by Heritage Auctions to be from Lee, the writer ordered “COKE (in large amount),” “ACID (in fair amount)” and “HASH OR GRASS,” before also inquiring about procuring “psilocybin” — commonly known as magic mushrooms — after supposedly reading about it in a book.

    In the same note, the writer also asked for “more goodies ready for shipping” including a “very classy derringer” firearm and a “cowboy holster.”

    Later in the year, a supposedly “stoned as hell” Lee wrote a less legible letter to Baker about needing “some coke” to “help in the formation” of a character he was working on.

    In various other letters, there were repeated orders of “C,” “coke” and “Coca-Cola.” There were also references to other substances, which he called the “holy stuff,” “super duper,” “M pills”, “H oil” and others.

    One of the dozens of letters in auction, with Bruce Lee asking Bob Baker to “air-mail me some coca-cola”
    Other letters signed by Linda appear to discuss follow ups on drug shipments and money orders. It was also stated that she bought a scale and would be inspecting the cocaine that would be sent.

    “Enclosed you will find the $500 for the amount of C you quote that Bruce can get. I’ll measure it but the quality (that goes without saying) plus the quantity Bruce himself will have to judge,” the letter from 1973 read. “I hope you will send him the mostest along with the one oz of H. oil and/or whatever.”

    “The goodies list can be (1) COKE (in large amount) (2) ACID (in fair amount) (3) HASH OR GRASS”
    Two letters also appear to have Linda thanking Bob’s wife, Bev for “past favors” and for “taking the risk and sending the last shipment to Bruce.”

    In another note following up a new shipment of “C,” Baker was assured that Bruce had things under control.

    “Don’t worry about Bruce using the C — he is not going overboard,” a letter signed by Linda in 1973 read.

    Apart from details on drugs, one correspondence also revealed what Polly calls “a previously unknown mistress named Teresa,” as Lee seemingly tried to plan a secret meet up without their family knowing.

    Hong Kong, 1971: Bruce Lee and Maria Yi in a scene from Fists of Fury Photo by Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images
    They discussed various topics through the years, but below are a few of the more notable snippets from the letters addressed to Baker.

    Bruce’s only typewritten letter to Baker from this collection. Sent from Los Angeles, December 15, 1969:

    A personal letter to thank you for bringing me the stuffs, especially the pipe and the painting.

    February 2, 1970:

    It was a brief but definitely enjoyable get together. Thank you again for that “holy stuff”

    March 6, 1970:

    ... By the way, wouldn’t mind going in with you for some of those “holy stuff” before leaving for H.K.

    March 11, 1970:

    I’m planning to leave for H.K. on April 1st, and definitely would like to store up on some “Holy stuff” to bring over there. See if you can come up with something good.


    The paper that I had “taste” kind of sweet and that definitely adds to it. So see if you can get some “good tasting” paper.

    March 17, 1970:

    Though I have little recollection of what had happened - - - - - - - - - - anyway I know that I enjoyed your stay and am looking forward for another visit from you. Thank you for that stuffs and do take care and have fun.

    Love, Peace, Brotherhood,


    P.S. I can’t think of the six items, but I think you have a better memory - - - - -

    Ordering and planning on sharing “M” pills with friend and actor James Coburn, who would eventually win an Academy Award in 1997. From April 22, 1970:

    A quick letter to thank you personally for the “wonderful gifts.” I enjoyed them very much. By the way, when and if you should come down again, do get more 1-inch boards plus the same “M” pills. They do give me tremendous experience. Coburn likes some of them. I’ll give some to him when I get them.

    Cancelling an order and trying to quit, June 17, 1970:

    I told Linda to call you to forget about the “stuff” because I really don’t need them in my training. I feel that I have “gained” in trying them, but excessive indulgence of them just isn’t in my road in Jeet Kune Do.

    June 30, 1970:

    “Again thank you for your generous supply of paper that would seem to last a life time!”

    October 8, 1970:

    ...Anyway, when you go back to work, I need more paper! Plus I can’t remember what - - - - - - anyway, you will remember.

    December 16, 1970:

    It takes me a day to get back to myself to write this letter to “thank you” once more for everything, particularly “those super duper!” We had some wonderful moments.

    February 25, 1971:

    “Thank you” Bob

    Organizing a secret meet up, June 22, 1971:

    I plan to come up — depending when I finished shooting — from July 2 (friday nite) to probably Tues or Wed (7). One thought here: I “might” come up (fly) with Teresa and she probably stays Friday nite (July 2), Sat nite (July 3) and leave Sunday (July 4) afternoon or so. The question is, is it convenient for Beth Bev and the kids to spend two Friday nite, Sat. and Sunday morning at her mother or somewhere and make up some convenient jazz for I don’t want Bev to know about this. Of course it has to be convenient or else forget it. My mother and everybody is at my house now. Let me know, and remember if only it is convenient and flow and everything is cool.

    From Thailand, while filming “The Big Boss,” August 3, 1971:

    Thailand is full of G but I have very little time for it though. I have to say it is “extremely” good.

    From Thailand, August 23, 1971:

    ...By the way the “G” in Bangkok is holy indeed. I understand Hong Kong is super lousy.

    That same later also included a passage stating Baker would be “coming” to Hong Kong and has been cast to star in his next film, Fist of Fury. The movie was shot in Hong Kong late in 1971. Prior to this, Lee dealt with serious back injuries, and previous letters showed that Baker also gave him a loan when he was struggling financially at the time.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  15. #45
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    continued from previous post

    After Lee moved to Hong Kong, February 28, 1972:

    ...Still am in the process of adapting to life here. By the way, what is the advice on the possibility of shipping some coke to me? Drop me a line on that.

    Planning the orders and shipment of various drugs, along with a firearm, from late 1972:

    (A) Regarding the goods — you can send them in a package addressed to Mr. Wu Ngan c/o Golden Harvest Studio, 1412 Tung Ying Building 100 Nathan Rd.

    The goodies list can be (1) COKE (in large amount) (2) ACID (in fair amount) (3) HASH OR GRASS (the former can be more while the latter, even cleaned, has to be carefully packed. As to what you put the above with you know better — inside books? Clothings? —

    (B) Also, when I come I would like to have more goodies ready for shipping including finding me a really classy derringer — from shops, collection, or what not. Also, find me a cowboy holster for my 45 fast draw — all these when I come but not for your sending me right away.

    So send (A) request right away ... they might open for brief inspection or they might not — but play it safe. As for the total cost, let me know and I’ll send you the money order by air mail right away.


    P.S. Do you have access to any PSILOCYBIN. If so send a little together with info on how to take it. Read about it in a book.

    From Linda Lee, October 5, 1972:

    I just want to check with you about the second shipment. We thought you probably would have sent it already, but it has not arrived. Hope nothing has happened to it in the mail. Please confirm if you have sent it or not. In regards to the money, I’ll send as soon as I can get to the bank to buy a money order.

    November 22, 1972:

    ...One thing you have to do is to air-mail me some fine “C” if you can swing it.

    December 11, 1972:

    Air-mail me some Coca-Cola — do it the way you and I sincerely feel — in other word, whatever. Be cool about the package. Same procedure, Wu Ngan — “quality! man”

    Date illegible, late 1972:

    “Cooly” send some Coke — How’s everything? Stoned as hell, but am working on the upcoming character. Some coke would help in the formation and [illegible] I want to create.

    Another order after Baker’s “friend” supposedly got “busted” in 1973:

    Deep regret for your friend being busted


    RUSH the sparkle “quality” LOTS!”


    By now you should have received my money order, though I feel that it might be a slight delay because of your friend’s situation. I hope you will send me the “quality” stuff you said you will send (“it has never been from the street”). In the mean time I’m getting a “quality” spoon and [illegible] scale. Do send it “air-mail” like yesterday (ha! ha!)

    March 21, 1973:

    Just want you to know that Linda had yesterday send the ADDITIONAL money you have requested. I had a hard day, a REAL HARD day. You take good care of yourself and your family. By the way, I’ll be waiting for the 1 oz of H. oil I have ordered from you — send it as soon as you can.

    From Linda Lee, March 29, 1973:

    Dear Bob and Bev, For past favors and for being a good friend. Hope this small amount helps a little.

    From Linda Lee, March 30, 1973:

    Received your four letters. Bruce is in the midst of shooting — working very hard.

    Well, forget about your making some money out of the last orders. I’ve bought a gram measurer and enclosed you will find the $500 for the amount of C you quote that Bruce can get. I’ll measure it but the quality (that goes without saying) plus the quantity Bruce himself will have to judge. I hope you will send him the mostest along with the one oz of H. oil and/or whatever.

    From Linda Lee, April 16, 1973:

    Dear Bob, Its been quite a while since you’ve written. I assume you have received the money order for $500 and I am wondering if you have sent the C yet. Please let me know right away because if you did not receive the money order, then I will have to talk to the bank to put a tracer on it.

    How are you all doing? We hope things are straightening out for you. Say thanks to Bev for taking the risk and sending the last shipment to Bruce. Don’t worry about Bruce using the C — he is not going overboard.


    Write very soon and let us know about the $500 money order and/or when the C is coming.

    “Don’t worry about Bruce using the C — he is not going overboard”
    On May 10, 1973, less than a month after that letter signed by Linda, Bruce Lee collapsed. He suffered seizures and headaches, and was diagnosed with cerebral edema. While the reports and circumstances leading to his death were conflicting, more headaches and brain swelling happened again two months later. Lee passed away on July 20, 1973, at just 32-years-old.

    In the years following his death, letters show that Linda still tried to keep in touch with Bev and Bob Baker. The latest from this collection being sold is from January 16, 1975.

    “After living with Bruce for so long, I certainly have the strength and determination to keep going, as well as the ability to take life as it comes,” Linda wrote. “Like Bruce used to say — turn those stumbling blocks into stepping stones!”

    Baker reportedly died by heart attack in 1993, at age 52.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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