Ac­tion man still a star at­trac­tion

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - LOCAL HERO -

Cindy MacDon­ald ex­plores mar­tial arts king Bruce Lee’s con­nec­tions with Hong Kong

IF AUS­TRALIA had just one favourite son to hold up to the world, who would it be?

The great Don­ald Brad­man springs to mind – a man whose achieve­ments ex­tended far be­yond the bound­aries of a cricket pitch, and whose very ex­is­tence buoyed the na­tional psy­che for decades. A man wor­thy of his own mu­seum, in the NSW town of Bowral, where devo­tees can gather to wor­ship amid me­mora­bilia, facts and photographs.

Just as we have The Don, Hong Kong has its own na­tional hero. His name is Bruce Lee.

To mark the 40th an­niver­sary in July of the un­timely death of the mar­tial artist and movie star, the Hong Kong Her­itage Mu­seum opened the Bruce Lee: Kung Fu, Art, Life mul­ti­me­dia ex­hi­bi­tion.

This ho­mage to the highly dis­ci­plined and sin­gle-minded artist, which is sched­uled to run for five years, has brought to­gether more than 600 items of his short but colour­ful life. Sup­ported by the Bruce Lee Foun­da­tion and the ac­tor’s fam­ily, it of­fers a com­pre­hen­sive look at the man, the kung fu mas­ter and the leg­end.

On dis­play are ev­ery­thing from pho­tos of Lee per­form­ing cha-cha moves as a teenager, to the fa­mous mask he wore as Kato in the Amer­i­can TV se­ries The Green Hor­net, to his writ­ten pledge to be­come the “high­est paid Ori­en­tal su­per star in the United States”, to his kung fu cos­tume for the 1973 mar­tial arts clas­sic En­ter the Dragon.

The ex­hi­bi­tion also fea­tures the doc­u­men­tary The Bril­liant Life of Bruce Lee, a 75-minute trib­ute to his legacy.

Born the son of a cel­e­brated Can­tonese opera singer and his wife in San Fran­cisco in 1940, Lee re­turned with his fam­ily to Hong Kong as a baby be­fore head­ing back to the US in 1959 to com­plete his ed­u­ca­tion.

There he mar­ried Linda Emery and had a son, Bran­don (who fol­lowed his fa­ther into act­ing and also died trag­i­cally young), and a daugh­ter, Shan­non.

In 1971, Lee re­turned to Hong Kong a TV star and very quickly be­came an ac­tion­movie cult fig­ure. But while shoot­ing the fight scenes for The Game of Death in July 1973, which he had writ­ten and planned to di­rect him­self, he suf­fered a fatal cere­bral oedema. He was just 32.

When Bruce Lee: Kung Fu, Art, Life was launched, the di­rec­tor of Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cul­tural Ser­vices Depart­ment, Betty Fung, called Lee “the pride of Hong Kong” and de­scribed his in­flu­ence as cross­ing “the bound­aries of re­gion, race and even age”.

As with Brad­man, revered in Aus­tralia and on the sub­con­ti­nent, Lee’s en­dur­ing ap­peal tran­scended eth­nic­ity. The writer was a guest of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

TOP OF THE CHOPS: Mar­tial arts megas­tar Bruce Lee, and a poster for the ex­hi­bi­tion at the Hong Kong Her­itage Mu­seum (above).

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