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Posts tagged “Way of the Dragon

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee_BannerBruce Lee (born Lee Jun-fan; 27 November 1940 – 20 July 1973) was a Chinese American actor, martial arts instructor, philosopher, film director, film producer, screenwriter, and founder of the Jeet Kune Do martial arts movement. He is widely considered by many commentators, critics, media and other martial artists to be the most influential martial artist, and a cultural icon.

bruce-lee_enter the dragonLee was born in San Francisco to parents of Hong Kong heritage but was raised in Hong Kong until his late teens. It was in Hong Kong where the largest influence on Lee’s martial arts development was his study of Wing Chun. Lee began training in Wing Chun at the age of 13 under the Wing Chun teacher Yip Man in 1954, after losing a fight with rival gang members. Yip’s regular classes generally consisted of the forms practice, chi sao (sticking hands) drills, wooden dummy techniques, and free-sparring. There was no set pattern to the classes. Yip tried to keep his students from fighting in the street gangs of Hong Kong by encouraging them to fight in organized competitions.

enter_the_dragon_poster_005After a year into his Wing Chun training, most of Yip Man’s other students refused to train with Lee after they learnt of his ancestry (his mother was half Chinese and half Caucasian) as the Chinese generally were against teaching their martial arts techniques to non-Asians. Lee’s sparring partner, Hawkins Cheung states, “Probably fewer than six people in the whole Wing Chun clan were personally taught, or even partly taught, by Yip Man”. However, Lee showed a keen interest in Wing Chun, and continued to train privately with Yip Man and Wong Shun Leung in 1955.

Lee emigrated to the United States at the age of 18 to claim his U.S. citizenship and receive his higher education. It was during this time that he began teaching martial arts, which soon led to film and television roles.

Bruce Lee_Game of Death_posterHis Hong Kong and Hollywood-produced films elevated the traditional Hong Kong martial arts film to a new level of popularity and acclaim and influenced martial arts and martial arts films in Hong Kong and the rest of the world. He is noted for his roles in five feature-length films: Lo Wei’s The Big Boss (1971) and Fist of Fury (1972); Way of the Dragon (1972), directed and written by Lee; Warner Brothers’ Enter the Dragon (1973), directed by Robert Clouse; and Game of Death (1978), directed by Robert Clouse. Extended articles on each of these movies will appear here at a later date.

Lee became an iconic figure known throughout the world. Although he initially trained in Wing Chun, he later rejected well-defined martial art styles, favouring instead to use techniques from various sources in the spirit of his personal martial arts philosophy, which he dubbed Jeet Kune Do (The Way of the Intercepting Fist).

On 10 May 1973, Lee collapsed in Golden Harvest studios while doing dubbing work for the movie Enter the Dragon. Suffering from seizures and headaches, he was immediately rushed to Hong Kong Baptist Hospital where doctors diagnosed cerebral edema. They were able to reduce the swelling.

bruce-lee_game of deathOn 20 July 1973, Lee was in Hong Kong, to have dinner with George Lazenby, with whom he intended to make a film. According to Lee’s wife Linda, Lee met producer Raymond Chow at 2 pm at home to discuss the film Game of Death.  Lee later complained of a headache, and actress Betty Lee Ting gave him an analgesic (painkiller), he went for a nap and never woke up. He died later that day in Kowloon Tong, he was only 32.


Birth of the Dragon – Bruce Lee Biopic

Bruce Lee_Birth of the Dragon_BannerQED International and Groundswell Productions have joined forces for Birth of the Dragon, which will focus on Bruce Lee’s career-defining 1965 no-holdsbarred TKO battle with kung fu master Wong Jack Man.

According to Linda Lee Cadwell, Bruce Lee’s wife, Lee’s teaching of Chinese martial arts to Caucasians made him unpopular with Chinese martial artists in San Francisco. Wong contested the notion that Lee was fighting for the right to teach Caucasians as not all of his students were Chinese. Wong stated that he requested a public fight with Lee after Lee had issued an open challenge during a demonstration at a Chinatown theater in which he claimed to be able to defeat any martial artist in San Francisco. Wong stated it was after a mutual acquaintance delivered a note from Lee inviting him to fight that he showed up at Lee’s school to challenge him. Martial artist David Chin reportedly wrote the original challenge, while Wong asked Chin to let him sign it.

According to author Norman Borine, Wong tried to delay the match and asked for restrictions on techniques such as hitting the face, kicking the groin, and eye jabs, and that the two fought no holds barred after Lee turned down the request.

The details of the fight vary depending on the account. Individuals known to have witnessed the match included Cadwell, James Lee (an associate of Bruce Lee, no relation) and William Chen, a teacher of T’ai chi ch’uan. According to Bruce, Linda, and James Lee, the fight lasted 3 minutes with a decisive victory for Bruce.

Lee gave a description, without naming Wong explicitly, in an interview with Black Belt: 

“I’d gotten into a fight in San Francisco with a Kung-Fu cat, and after a brief encounter the son-of-a-bitch started to run. I chased him and, like a fool, kept punching him behind his head and back. Soon my fists began to swell from hitting his hard head. Right then I realized Wing Chun was not too practical and began to alter my way of fighting.” 

Cadwell recounted the scene in her book Bruce Lee: The Man Only  I Knew:

“The two came out, bowed formally and then began to fight. Wong adopted a classic stance whereas Bruce, who at the time was still using his Wing Chun style, produced a series of straight punches. “Within a minute, Wong’s men were trying to stop the fight as Bruce began to warm to his task. James Lee warned them to let the fight continue. A minute later, with Bruce continuing the attack in earnest, Wong began to back pedal as fast as he could. For an instant, indeed, the scrap threatened to degenerate into a farce as Wong actually turned and ran. But Bruce pounced on him like a springing leopard and brought him to the floor where he began pounding him into a state of demoralization. “Is that enough?” shouted Bruce, “That’s enough!” pleaded his adversary. Bruce demanded a second reply to his question to make sure that he understood this was the end of the fight.”

This is in contrast to Wong and William Chen’s account of the fight as they state the fight lasted an unusually long 20–25 minutes. Allegedly, Wong was unsatisfied with Lee’s account of the match and published his own version in the Chinese Pacific Weekly, a Chinese language newspaper in San Francisco. The article, which was featured on the front page, included a detailed description of the fight from Wong’s perspective and concluded with an invitation to Bruce Lee for a public match if Lee found his version to be unacceptable. Lee never made a public response to the article. Wong later expressed regret over fighting Lee, attributing it to arrogance, both on the part of Lee and himself.

Written by Oscar nominees Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen Rivele, who worked on Oliver Stone’s Nixon and Michael Mann’s Ali, the film focuses on the aforementioned Oakland fight that launched Lee to martial arts stardom, which happened against the backdrop of the Hong Kong Triads’ criminal control of San Francisco’s Chinatown. The film will also detail a team-up between the two legends to take on the Triads. The fight with Jack Man was the last official one of Lee’s career before he headed into acting, competition and building his martial arts philosophy. “We’re excited to retell the fantastic origin story of the world’s most famous martial arts icon, which in the hands of Christopher and Stephen, lends itself to an action thriller we’re sure will enthrall movie fans around the world,” QED’s Bill Block said in a statement. The film will be produced by Block, Groundswell Productions CEO Michael London, Wilkinson and Rivele, and executive produced by Groundswell’s Kelly Mullen.


Raymond Chow

Raymond+Chow+5th+Asian+Film+AwardsRaymond Chow Man-Wai (born January 1, 1929) is a Hong kong film producer, and presenter who was responsible for successfully launching martial arts and Hong Kong cinema onto the international stage. As the founder of Golden Harvest, he would produce some of the biggest stars to ever grace the screen including Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Ricky Tam and countless others.

He went to study abroad at the Shanghai St. John’s University, and graduated with a B. A. in journalism in 1949. In 1951 he joined the Voice of America office in Hong Kong. He also studied martial arts under master Lam Sai-wing. 

Chow was the head of publicity and the production chief of Shaw Brothers between 1958 and 1970. He leased Cathay’s studio and contracted its exhibition chain of 104 cinema theatres in Southeast Asia. At the time Cathay was a predominant force in the Asian film industry.

When Cathay wanted to end the company’s association in Hong Kong, Chow left Shaw Brothers to establish Golden Harvest in 1970. Under Chow’s leadership, Golden Harvest would become the cornerstone for Hong Kong cinema leading HK box office sales for two decades from the 1970s to 1980s. Golden Harvest contracted with independent producers and gave talent more generous pay and greater creative freedom. Some filmmakers and actors from Shaws defected. But what really put the company on the map was a 1971 deal with soon-to-be martial arts superstar Bruce Lee, after he had turned down the low-paying, standard contract offered him by the Shaws.

They produced the Bruce Lee starring massive hits of ‘The Big Boss’ (1970), ‘Fist of Fury’ (1971) and ‘Way of the Dragon (1972). In 1973, Golden Harvest entered into a pioneering co-production with Hollywood for the English-language Lee film ‘Enter the Dragon’ (龍爭虎鬥), a worldwide hit made with the Warner Brothers studio. Bruce Lee’s final film ‘Game of Death’ was released in 1978, 5 years after his death.

Golden Harvest supplanted Shaw Brothers as Hong Kong’s dominant studio by the end of the ’70s and retained that position into the ’90s. Its greatest asset for years was that from the 1980s until very recently, it produced almost all of the films of Jackie Chan, Asia’s top box office star. Golden Harvest has also produced a number of films for Jet Li and Donnie Yen. 

Golden Harvest’s activity has declined in recent years. In 2003, they withdrew from film-making to concentrate on film financing, distribution and cinema management in Hong Kong and in Mainland China. In 2007, Raymond Chow sold the company to Chinese businessman Wu Kebo, who owns the China-based Orange Sky Entertainment Group. In early 2009, Golden Harvest merged with Orange Sky and was renamed Orange Sky Golden Harvest (橙天嘉禾娛樂集團有限公司). In 2009, Golden Harvest announced their relaunch and previewed a new trailer set for movies in 2010.