Course:ASIA321/2022/Bruce Lee

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Bruce Lee in 1971

Bruce Lee: Global Icon for the Marginalized


In this Wiki page, we will be covering the life, screen presence, cultural impact and philosophy of the notorious Bruce Lee. We have compiled uncommon/lesser known information about the legend himself and seek to provide insight for those curious about the more personal side of Lee as well as the far-reaching cultural influence of his works on the big screen. Being passionate fans of Bruce's works/lifestyle ourselves, we hope to inspire others to realize his importance as a global icon acting as a bridge between the East and West through his revolutionary work on the big screen as well as the ever-existing appreciation for his lingering legacy. Our page aims to showcase how the influence of a celebrity's lifestyle/philosophy can indeed shape the cultural landscape well past their physical contributions.


Bruce Lee was born in November 27,1940 in the hour and year of the Dragon in San Francisco, California. In Chinese astrology this combination represents a good omen, which we agree is also a symbol Bruce Lee's persona and eventful life. [1]

Raised in Hong Kong until the age of 13, Lee is the son of Grace Ho and the Cantonese opera star Lee Hoi-Chuen. Due to the celebrity status of his father, Lee was constantly exposed to the celebrity world, to the point of participating on multiple of his father's films from a very young age. [2] Despite his early introduction, however it was not until his last five films that he began gaining recognition both in Hong Kong and worldwide. [1]

Lee's way of acting developed after his mastering of martial arts, all which relate to his realistic and appealing visual of his films. He began studying Gung Fu at the age of 13, and soon after grew interest in acting and dancing. For Lee, having learnt martial arts before dancing allowed him to mastered both arts with ease. These skills allowed him to be in 20 films before leaving to San Francisco at the age of 18 with only $100 under his name. Once in the United States, his martial arts skills gave him the opportunity to take in a recurrent role in the TV series The Green Hornet. [1]

As time continued, Lee became an icon that bridges the West and the East. Both in and outside the camera, Lee was the embodiment of acceptance of different cultures and fighting for the underdog. He participated in films that worked as joint collaborations between Hong Kong and United States, developed the his own martial arts Jeet Kune Do, and continued spreading his own philosophical beliefs. [1]

Unfortunately, his living years were soon interrupted on July 20, 1973 at the age of 32 due to an allergic reaction to a pain medication that he took for a headache. Nonetheless, his legacy continues, and to this day, Bruce Lee is recognized worldwide as a symbol of strength and martial arts for all people. [1]

Life roles

The celebrity’s life roles

Bruce Lee played many roles throughout his eventful life, student, teacher, lover, father, actor to an iconic revolutionary just to name a few. However, in his era where many Asians had tried convincing themselves of being white, Lee was "bursting with pride" playing his role of being unapologetically Chinese.

His role of training as a student under Yip man himself translated well into his early profession of being a "Wing Chun" martial arts instructor. Needless to say, the countless hours of martial arts training as well as his childhood acting experience contributed immensely to his success with acting out his notorious fight scenes on the big screen.

Early Influences

Lee was actually introduced to the entertainment at a very young age, first appearing in a film at the tender age of 3 months acting as a stand-in for an American baby. Being that his father was an opera singer and part-time actor, young Lee likely followed his footsteps and started to frequently appear in films often casted as a juvenile delinquent or street urchin.

Majored in Philosophy at the university of Washington, was a superb artist and had an interest in writing poetry.

Training under Yip man in "Wing Chun" with other top students before moving to USA in 1959. However had a falling out with his former master when Yip man took Lee's gesture of buying a nice apartment for him as an offer to learn the higher level techniques negatively (Yip man wasn't doing so well in his later years). This was in addition to Yip man being against Lee's desire to teach foreigners the art of Wing Chun.

Daily Life

It wouldn't be too surprising that the icon of martial arts himself trained extensively but fewer know of the details within his unique yet rigorous daily regimen.[3]

"He would often use drums/drumming in training, he invented a concept called broken rhythm where he tried to break the rhythm of his opponent and get in between the beats as it were." -Shannon Lee This likely led to the development of his later "Jeet Kune Do" martial arts expression as it heavily prioritizes interception of the opponents technique/intent

The following is Shannon Lee's memoir on her early family life in the Lee household; "Ours was a lively household, he was constantly training (even when watching TV) and we always had people working out in the backyard. My brother's friends would be afraid to come over as kids as there were always grown men beating each other up in the backyard. And we always had pets around, cats and dogs alike, my father loved animals."[4]

He also had a Wednesday night group, where mainly students from his class would come over for extra instruction and philosophical conversation which would turn into a communal dinner building a sense of community and togetherness with his students and associate alike.

Multiple sources also state that Bruce developed a habit of smoking pot which surprised many of the martial artists training with him, one was even quoted to stop training with Lee as he was sick of all the smoke swirling around. “It raises the consciousness level,” Lee explained when another martial artist asked him why he got high.

Common roles on screen

The Underdog

Bruce Lee was an underdog in Hollywood starting out as an Asian American and therefore easily dismissed and marginalized. Though he was known to be extremely confident, and described by some as even cocky, such an attitude was necessary given the environment he was attempting to thrive in. Without his signature self-assuredness, one can assume that producers and actors alike wouldn't be able to take him seriously.

This attitude of Lee's seems to carry over into his roles on screen as well, he's often casted as an underdog but is never fearful of opponents, rather he's unforgiving and relentless in a fight. This is further emphasized in "Fist of Fury" where his character embodies the values of minority groups (being Chinese underdogs) and fights the unfair Japanese tyranny present in the film.

The Lonely Hero

In films such as Enter the Dragon (1973) and Fist of Fury (1972), Bruce Lee would often portray the lonely hero that goes to extremes to fight for what is right and save people. His usual role aligned with the traditional martial arts hero: the loner that abides by their own moral rules and is strong enough to save everyone on their own. His role juxtaposes those from the usual Blaxploitation films that had a more communal approach.[5] Nonetheless, Lee's characters relate to his personal abilities and talent. Lee was an individual with great speed and martial arts ability, and the main difference between him and other martial arts actors is that he is a martial artist that can act instead of an actor that is doing martial arts. [5] Thus, his realistic aspect in acting became a major turning point for martial arts films, ultimately grabbing the attention from African American people despite his different characters compared to those from Blaxploitation films..

Analysis of the celebrity's profession

Fist of Fury (1972) film poster

Fist of Fury (1972): Lee as the Underdog Hero

Fist of Fury (1972) touches on topics such as being accepted in society and being a solo hero with individual moral values; all which relate to Bruce Lee's influence on minorities and his own philosophy. The film follows the story of Chen Zhen, a top-of-the-class student from the Chinese martial arts school located in the international settlement of Shanghai, China. After hearing about the death of his master, Chen decides to take the lead and defend the honor of his school by avenging the death of his master. During this time, Chen suspects that the Japanese school orchestrated the death of his master, so he embarks in a journey that involves interrogating, infiltrating and taking the lives of those that wronged him, ultimately working under his own moral rules. [6]

Bruce Lee's character, Chen Zhen, symbolizes the idea of being heard and fighting for one own's values for minority groups, all which relates to minority audiences being fascinated with his films. One example is the scene when Chen wants to enter a park only to be stopped by the guard who points at the sign that says "no dogs and Chinese allowed". Soon after, Chen sees a woman with her dog entering the park without a problem, and then a Japanese man tells him that he will take Chen in only if he pretends to be a dog. Chen quickly reacts and attacks the Japanese man and his companions, and then jumps to kick the sign and break it with one kick. [6] The scene demonstrates that in the realm of the film, even though they are located in Shanghai, China, Chinese people still have a lower status than foreign nationals, belittling the Chinese and making them the underdog.

A Quest of Honor and Respect

The mentioned scene relates to Lee's quest on making the Chinese a more respected and honored group, building on the idea of ethnic pride. Like his other works in films like The Big Boss (1971) and Way of the Dragon (1972), the theme of Fist of Fury (1972) is connected to the Lee's character and his personal goal to showcase a different type of Chineseness.[7]

Considering that the film is set in the 1910s, these were times when the Chinese would often face humiliation from other foreign nationals, particularly from other foreign powers. That said, the film connects the past feeling of being belittled to its current times, building on Lee's own idea of nationalism. For Lee, nationalism relates to a transcendental cultural China with ahistorical roots that allowed the audience to connect to his moral views. Some of these audiences were from Hong Kong and Taiwan, but the ahistorical aspect of his film also resulted in his works becoming a cult film for African-American audiences and other minority groups. [7]

African-American Audience

The theme of the underdog fighting for respect to their people in Lee's films relates to the African-American struggles on fighting for being heard and their rights.

Lee was a global icon for all minorities, not only the Chinese community. Continuing using Fist of Fury (1972) as an example, the film appeals to the African-American audience due to its visuals and overall storyline, all which revolve around the theme of fighting for your own well. African American's fascination to martial arts films began in the 1970s with Hong Kong's and American's joint effort: Hong Kong would produce multiple martial arts films, and the United States would distribute them outside of Hong Kong for the American audience. [5]

Apart from films related to Blaxploitation, martial arts films where the only films with non-Caucasian main character, especially a character with such strength and talent like those portrayed by Bruce Lee. [5] Despite not being of the same nationality, African-American films felt identified with the works of other minority groups, considering a triumph for the underdog in general.

Nationalist theme

While most of his films revolve around an ahistorical Chinese nationalistic feeling, the same resonates with African Americans and other minorities due to its anti-imperialist and racial consciousness connotation. [5]Taking the aforementioned scene from Fist of Fury (1972), for example, the action of breaking a sign that says "no dogs and Chinese allowed" looks like a connotation of Chinese nationalism on the surface. However, the same scene can easily connect other minorities' struggles on fighting for respect and their own rights. This nationalistic theme in his films can also refer to the liberation movements against white supremacy and imperialism, as well as violence against oppression.

Jeet Kune Do

Lee was widely regarded as a “genius at body movement” one who could master any martial arts style. He was known to read his opponents and know when and how they were going to attack, seemingly before they even moved. In other words, he had otherworldly quickness; "his entire body is like one giant twitch-muscle" - Matthew Polly.

Bruce soon developed his own style of martial arts that took inspiration from Wing Chun but differed in it's freedom for expression/fluidity in combat/everyday situations. Although formerly reluctant to label his techniques as the very foundation of this fighting style was to be without fixation/limitations, he realized the need to have a name in order to reference this practice.

Jeet Kune Do is more of a guiding philosophy than a fixed set of patterns that other martial arts seem to advocate for, it's practitioners believe in minimum effort with maximum effect/speed. On top of this, it takes on a "best defense is a strong offense" approach hence the concept of an intercepting fist. Jeet Kune Do specializes in interception of the opponent's intention/movement so Lee's fast reaction actively compliments it's techniques thus skyrocketing his naturalistic talent for the art.

Key societal, economic, political, moral, and historical forces that influenced the celebrity’s career

Bruce Lee's book Gung Fu: The Philosophical Art of Self-Defense published in 1963

In 1963, before Bruce Lee developed his own Jeek Kune Do, he published the book called Chinese Gung Fu: The Philosophical Art of Self-Defense[8], which is a book discussing about kungfu and based on Wing Chun. This book introduced kungfu to the West while at that time, Chinese kungfu is still an unknown to countries outside South-East Asia and diasporic Chinese communities. Later in the 1970s, Bruce Lee’s movies such as Fist of Fury(1972) and Enter the Dragon(1973) depicted Bruce as a legend, he gradually became ‘part man, part myth, part magic’ at that time and when Enter the Dragon was released, it pushed the global kungfu craze to a high-point[9]. Nonetheless, Bruce Lee is not the only factor leading to the kungfu craze from the West. The first one breaking into the American Market is the movie King Boxer produced by Show Brothers in 1972, and there are around 300 movies targetting on the international market released during 1971 to 1973.

In the 1970s, we can find a rapiding growing interest on Chinese kungfu from the West, however, that is closely related to the social and political environment during that period. The kungfu craze from the West in the 1970s was parallel to the United States’ shifting relations with South-East Asia and overlapped with both Vietnam War and President Nixon’s visit to China. The anit-Vietnam War sentiments led to the massive interest towards Asian culture and philosophy from the West, eventually, the idea of ‘Asiaphilia’ became the phenomenon in the 1970s, emphasizing on culture and things that is oriental[9][10] and outside the western countries, the West started to favour or even fetishize all the things in Asian popular culture. Coincidently, Chinese kungfu perfectly fits this dimension and the west loved the ‘mindlessness’ in kungfu, caused the huge kungfu craze during that time.

Other than that, the kungfu craze and Bruce popularity in the black society also related to the rise of blaxploitation in the 1970s. In Bruce’s movie, Chinese people are always the side that faced exploitation and oppression and Bruce stands against this and fight back like a hero. This echos to the blaxploitation in which they favour people that are not white people to become the hero and black people can relate themselves to the oppression faced by Chinese people due to their own history. The African American is one of the most significant factor keeping the kungfu craze alive and Bruce became the hero among the African American society.[11]


Be Like Water -- The philosophy in martial art and its meaning to the 2019-2020 Hong Kong Protest

An artwork published during the 2019-2020 Hong Kong Protest

The saying ‘be like water’ is the philosophy proposed by Bruce Lee in the movie Enter the Dragon (1973)[12], originally talking about the technique and the philosophy in martial art. In Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee suggested ‘you must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water, my friend.’ The initial meaning here is asking people to adopt in response to your environment and your opponent. Suggesting that you need to be pliable and do not try to aspire to perfection or control everything. More importantly, you need to empty your mind, be formless and shapeless like water.[13]

Between 2019-2020, the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement and a number of mass protests started in Hong Kong. The protest later became a movement of localism, including street and online confrontations between the Hong Kong police force and Hong Kong protestors. During the time of the protest, Bruce Lee’s philosophy ‘be like water’ became the clarion call among the young protestors[14] and the motto[15] when it comes to street confrontation. The meaning of ‘be like water’ is used and interpreted in another way by young protestors, it refers to the mobility in the protest. The movement is innovative, uses a high human cost and requires high mobility to keep up protest.[16] ‘Be like water’ is a strategy for Hong Kong protestors to stand against the Hong Kong police force. They were flexible, moving like unexpectable waves, rolling from one spot to another like water.[14] They can be mobile and strong, they can crash like water. Hong Kong protestors wrote the motto ‘be like water’ on posters, paintings, songs and published works, promoting it via online forums such as HKGolden. The physical confrontation between protestors and Hong Kong police force ended by the direct imposition of a draconian National Security Law by the Chinese Communist Party in June 2020, the 'be like water' protest hence stopped.[16]

Nonetheless, later in October 2019, a United States legislative bill named Hong Kong Be Water Act of 2019 was proposed by the senator Josh Hawley, Rick Scott and John Cornyn. The bill was based on the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, accusing officials from Hong Kong and Mainland China and state-owned enterprises' suppression on Hong Kong protestors' freedom of expression and assembly during 2019-2020, calling for sanctions and the freezing of asserts of them.[17] The name Hong Kong Be Water Act of 2019 comes from the philosophy proposed by Bruce Lee.

The status of Bruce Lee is irreplaceable and incomparable during the 2019-2020 Hong Kong Protest, even other remarkable Hong Kong celebrities such as Jacky Chan were not treated as equivalent to Bruce Lee.[14] He is claimed to be the hero to the people in Hong Kong and his philosophy inspires political movement despite the fact that he already left us for a long time, symbolizing the significance of Bruce Lee to Hong Kong people.

Spiritual Development/Philosophy for Life

Lee maintained a strong emphasis on "self-actualization", he was always good at cultivating and expressing his true essence. With this, he was able to put forth something truly unique/original into the world because of his uncompromising authenticity. -Shannon Lee

“I feel I have this great creative and spiritual force within me that is greater than faith, greater than ambition, greater than confidence, greater than determination, greater than vision,” he wrote. “It is all of these combined.” (To his high-school sweetheart upon arrival in America).

Lee emphasized that in every situation whether it's fighting or everyday life, its essential not to be rigid but to remain fluid and adaptable to the ever-changing circumstances of the moment. To "be like water" so to speak, water is adaptable to any situation whether it's changing shape due to it's container or to change it's very state of matter through freezing or evaporation. On top of this, water is able to shape any environment over time, even the hardest of minerals cannot escape erosion by water therefore it's potential for force remains unlimited. To truly embody the principles of water is to be adaptable to any situation and achieve victory under any circumstance.

After Death/Lingering Legacy

While Bruce Lee was undoubtedly one of the greatest artists from Asia during his active years, his postmortem memory and influence continues lingering in today's society due to the current Bruceploitation phenomena and the ongoing efforts to keep his legacy and philosophy alive with the Bruce Lee Foundation. Increased popularity for deceased public figures is not a surprise, however, particularly due to the ongoing buzz and media attention that the figures receive after dead. During the first month after the figure's death, the mention frequency of the person increases by up to 9,400% in the news, and up to 28,000% in social media platforms. [18]

In the case of Lee, scholars remember the impact of his death and compare its cultural impact to other well-renowned public figures like Princess Diana and the shocking news of her death. [19] That said, Bruce Lee's global legacy is remembered to this day through the Bruceploitation phenomenon, the Bruce Lee Foundation, museum exhibitions and his multiple awards and honors.


Considering scholars' view on the increased fame of public figures after their death, it still evident that Bruce Lee's influence in today's society goes beyond news and social media posts. More specifically, it is greatly influenced by Bruceploitation, rooted from filmmakers decision to produce films that have some type of connotation to Bruce Lee including: similar names, body movements, martial arts, clothing, etc. [20]

Animations / Comics / TV shows

Jupiter in Sailor Moon (1992) showed the same fighting pose as Bruce Lee.

The influence of kungfu and triad flicks brought by movies such as Enter the Dragon (1973) greatly affects America and the countries surrounding Hong Kong. Bruce Lee’s philosophy, fighting style, appearance and name become a well-known reference among Japanese animation, comics and games (ACG) culture. The ACG works that reference Bruce Lee varies with anime that target children audiences such as Pokémon, or comics that target teenagers and adults such as Fist of the North Star and Naruto. We argue that the influence brought by Bruce Lee does not limit to real-life works, he himself also becomes a representation of kungfu on virtual works and ACG culture. Some of the examples are shown below:

Animations/comics using Bruce Lee as a reference
Year Anime/comics Reference Note
1983 Fist of the North Star Bruce Lee’s appearance and fighting style The design of the character Kenshiro is based on Bruce Lee, his personality, appearance and fighting style are very similar to Bruce Lee[21]
1984 Dragon Ball Franchise Bruce Lee’s movie and himself The name Dragon Ball was inspired by one of the most famous movies by Bruce Lee, Enter the Dragon. There is also a scene depicting the fight of Goke and Krillin vs Bruce Lee.[22]
1992 Sailor Moon Bruce Lee’s fighting style The character Jupiter uses the same fighting pose as Bruce Lee[23]
1994 Street Fighter Bruce Lee’s image and his movies The design of the character Fei Long is based on Bruce Lee, his power, his fighting style and his appearance are all similar to Bruce Lee and his name ‘Long’, is the homophone of ‘dragon’ in Chinese, symbolizing the name of Bruce Lee.[24]
1998 Terijho Tenge Bruce Lee’s appearance and fighting style. The name of Bruce Lee’s trainer The name of the character Inosanto Dan’s name is direct using the name of Bruce Lee’s trainer as a reference. In the anime, he wears the signature outfit from Bruce Lee and uses the same type of fighting style as Bruce Lee.[23]
1998 Cowboy Bebop Bruce Lee’s philosophy It uses the quote ‘be like water’, which is one of the most famous quotes from Bruce Lee in one of its fighting scene. In that scene, the character Rocco asks another character Spike for the advice of being strong in fighting, Spike then teaches him the principle of Jeet Kune Do, 'be like water'.[25]
1999 Naruto Bruce Lee’s name, appearance and fighting style Rock Lee in Naruto uses the last name of Bruce Lee and he represents the Taijutsu (kungfu) master in the story, as the contrast to Genjutsu and Ninjutsu. Another character Might Guy uses Bruce Lee’s appearance as a reference.[26]
2000 Pokémon Bruce Lee’s name and fighting style The name of the character Himonlee uses the surname of Bruce Lee in its name. The fighting style of Himonlee is similar to Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do[27]
2005 Eyeshield 21 Bruce Lee’s personality The design of the character Linebacker Seijuro Shin is based on the personality of Bruce Lee[23]
2014 One Piece Bruce Lee’s birthday and fighting style The character Blue Gilly has the same birthday as Bruce Lee (27th November), he is also a master of martial arts[28]

Other than animations and comics, Bruce Lee is also crucial to TV shows. In 2019-2020, a new TV series Warrior was released. It is a story based on Bruce Lee's original concepts and treatments, produced by his daughter Shannon Lee. Recently, the production team announced that the third season of Warrior will be released in April 2021 on HBO Max.[29]

Bruce Lee Foundation

Founded by Linda Lee Cadwell and Shannon Lee, wife and daughter of Bruce Lee, the Bruce Lee Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in California, USA. Initially a platform used to share Lee's works and philosophy, today the Bruce Lee Foundation takes on multiple educational and social initiatives that not only provide better growth opportunities for people, but also align with Lee's beliefs. [30] We argue that with just a click glance a the website proves that this platform aims to: 1) remind readers of Lee's works, achievements and global impact, and 2) keep Lee's legacy even more important than what it was in the past. This is demonstrated by the organization's efforts to create a friendly and welcoming social setting with multiple initiatives including summer camps for children, public exhibits, and collaborations with multiple charities, all which relates to Bruce Lee's body, mind and spirit practices. [30]

Likewise, the website accepts multiple collaborations from the everyday reader, allowing them to donate and occasionally volunteer in their social programs. [31] We argue that this opportunity not only allows them to further spread their mission of creating more social opportunities, but also allows a sense of two-way interaction where the reader can be part of the production process (becoming a prosumer). This idea thus leads to a sense of accomplishment and involvement in today's society, further expanding Lee's legacy.

Kung Fu‧Art‧Life Exhibition at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Museum Exhibitions

Just like his films, we noticed that museums exhibitions on Bruce Lee are a result of multinational collaborations aiming to create a space that celebrates his life. This ultimately attracts visitors from all over the world to reminisce the works of the legendary martial arts icon.

Hong Kong Heritage Museum

  • "Bruce Lee: Kung Fu-Art-Life" Exhibition: opened in 2013, the exhibition is one of the first collaborations between the Bruce Lee Foundation and the Hong Kong Heritage Museum that celebrates Bruce Lee's life. The running time of this exhibition has recently been extended to the year 2026, demonstrating the cultural importance of such. With over 600 items related to Bruce Lee's life works, the exhibition has become one of the greatest tourist attractions in Hong Kong, getting international attention during its running years. This exhibition focuses mostly on his achievements, significance to popular culture, and his global contribution. [32]
  • "A Man Beyond the Ordinary: Bruce Lee" Exhibition: further mirroring Bruce Lee's works transnational aspect, the 2021 exhibition is a collaboration between the Bruce Lee Foundation and the Hong Kong Heritage Museum sponsored by Fortune Star Media Limited that celebrates Bruce Lee's life with 400 items related to Bruce Lee's life works, multimedia displays and interactive points of attraction. [33] This exhibition focuses on bridging the past and the present in a global concept, creating a modern environment that relates to Bruce Lee's legacy.

Wing Luke Museum

The Seattle museum has partnered with the Bruce Lee Foundation to create a 4-part exhibition on Bruce Lee that celebrates his legacy and demonstrates the Western influence on Lee and his works. Their most recent and last exhibition is titled "A Dragon Lives Here" and it focuses on Seattle's influence on Bruce Lee persona. [34]Just like the Hong Kong exhibition, the 4-part exhibitions show the collaborative effort to celebrate Bruce Lee. In this case, by focusing on the martial arts icon, the exhibition mirrors Bruce Lee's influence on the spread of martial arts in the West.


Bruce Lee was a highly recognized actor and martial artist whose work remains recognized both before and after his death. He holds a total of 13 well-deserved awards, 8 titles, a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 3 statues all over the world, and multiple recognitions from various Hall of Fames. For further information, visit his official website.


Year Institution Award Notes
1958 Crown Colony Cha-Cha Championship
1964 International Karate Championships Karate Championship Award
Wally Jay and the Island Jujitsu Club Commemorative Exhibition Award
1967 U.S. National Karate Championship Appreciation Award
1972 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards Special Jury Award For his work in Fist of Fury (1972).[35]
1994 Hong Kong Film Awards Lifetime Achievement Award
1998 Chinese Wushu Association Supreme Movie Star Awards
2004 Ethnic Multicultural Media Academy Legend Award For his humanitarian contributions through his philosophy and take on martial arts against racism.[36]
2005 Hong Kong Film Awards Star of the Century Award
National General Administration of Sports and the All China Youth Federation Lifetime Achievement Award
2011 Martial Arts Industry Association Lifetime Achievement Award

Halls of Fame

  • 1972: Black Belt Magazine's Hall of Fame
  • 1974: Black Belt Hall of Fame as Man of the Year and Martial Artist of the Year
  • 1999: Martial Arts Hall of Fame
  • 2003: Latin American Martial Arts Society Worldwide as Martial Arts Legend
  • 2015: California Museum's Hall of Fame[37]

Other Recognitions

Bruce Lee was greatly celebrated both in the U.S. and in other countries, with recognitions and monuments all over the world. Among them:

Bruce Lee's star in Hollywood

Hollywood Walk of Fame

On April 28, 1993, Bruce Lee was honored by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. [38]

The event was held in Hollywood Boulevard where his widow Linda Lee Cadwell, brother Robert Lee and daughter Shannon Lee attended the ceremony. Likewise, over 1,000 fans attended the event. The date of the ceremony also coincided with the screening of Bruce Lee's documentary Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993). [39]

His star is located in 6933 Hollywood Blvd, in front of the Chinese Theater. [38]

Bruce Lee's Statues

Bruce Lee's influence in today's society transcends the movie screen with multiple statues globally. The value of these statues revolves around the idea of Lee as a symbol of cultural representation and a hero for the underdog. The statues are currently located in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Sydney and Mostar.[40] To the naked eye, some of these locations may seem random, but instead, we argue that each statute represents the city's great respect towards Lee and his legacy. More importantly, however, it shows how Bruce Lee was able to relate to a multicultural audience (specially to minorities) despite language or cultural barriers, making him a global icon.

  • Mostar: beating Hong Kong by only 24 hours, Mostar, the capital city of Bosnia, is the location of Bruce Lee's first statue. Making its first appearance on November 26, 2005, the monument was made by the Croatian artist Ivan Fjolic. The 1.68-meters, bronze statue is ha the support from the Chinese and German government, demonstrating the globalized aspect of Bruce Lee's legacy.[40] Likewise, the first location represents the one thing that connects Muslims, Serbs and Croats: their admiration towards Bruce Lee and his works. Thus, Lee's first statue is a prime example of a common goal for different cultures.
    Bruce Lee's statue in Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong: with two statues in this location, perhaps the most emblematic statue of Bruce Lee worldwide is the 2.5-metres, bronze statue of Bruce Lee was unveiled by Lee's brother Robert on November 27, 2005, which also happened to be Bruce Lee's 65th birthday.[40] The statue of Bruce Lee in his iconic role from Fist of Fury (1972) was planned and funded by Hong Kong's Bruce Lee Club who were able to raise 100,000USD for the monument of the artist. Located in one of the busiest areas of Hong Kong (Tsim Sha Tsui), this statue holds a twofold meaning for the Hong Kong people and the global audience. First, it grandiose height, location and unmistaken movie reference undoubtedly showcase Lee as one of Hong Kong's biggest actors, despite his Western background. This honor represents the impact of Bruce Lee's philosophy and works in a land he was closely related to. Secondly, the monument embraces the global aspect of the artist by locating his statue in one of the most popular tourist sites in Hong Kong, creating a sense of globalization.
  • Los Angeles: located in Chinatown, Los Angeles, the third statue was unveiled in September, 2013 and included the participation oh Lee's daughter, Shannon. [40] Supported by LA Chinatown Corporation, this statue further supports Lee's cross-boundaries status, bridging Asian and Western culture. His modern day statue also echoes Bruce Lee's effort to bring Asian culture representation to the city and the American screen, who, in the 1960s, had opened a Jeet Kune Do studio, and also gave life to Kato, his character in the American show The Green Hornet (1966).
  • Shunde: home of the biggest Bruce Lee statue (18.8 meters tall), this location unveiled its monument of the artist in 2010, one day after Bruce Lee's 70th birthday.[40]
  • Sydney: located in the suburbs of Kogorah and close to the international airport, this statue was unveiled in March 2011. It was also a gift from Bruce Lee's ancestral home, Shunde, Guangdong. Like with the other statues, by gifting the 2-meter statue, the ancestral home of Bruce Lee recognizes the global impact of the artist and is looking forward to sharing his legacy with the world.


File:Bruce Lee 1950.jpg
Bruce Lee in The Kid (1950)

While Bruce Lee's popularity increased during the 1970s with his first Golden Harvest film The Big Boss (1971), he has participated in more than 30 acting roles, 6 productions, and multiple roles as a action director and writer throughout his career.[36] Starting from a young age in 1941, Lee took on roles that were often given to him due to his family connections where his father would often introduce him to producers, getting the nickname "Little Hoi-Chuen". [41] These small roles did not secure him the spotlight for the following years, and it was not until 1950 that he got his first starring role in The Kid (1950). Then, Lee continued portraying the troubled and energetic kid in many of his following works, until his big breakthrough in the 1970s.

Lee has also guest-stared on multiple shows as himself, including The Pierre Berton Show, Enjoy Yourself Tonight, and others.[36]

For more detailed information on Bruce Lee's filmography, including acting, director, producer and stunt roles, visit IMDb.


Year Title Chinese Title Role Notes
1941 Golden Gate Girl 金門女 Infant (uncredited)
1946 The Birth of Mankind 人类的诞生 Bruce Lee was only 6 years old in this film. His father would often take him to movie sets and caught the attention of film producers.[41]
1948 Wealth is Like a Dream 富貴浮雲 Lost boy His father co-starred in the film.
1949 Xi Shi in the Dream 夢裡西施 Siu Hoi-Chuen Lee
1950 The Kid 細路祥 Ah-Cheung (Juvenile) First starring role.[41]
1951 Infancy 人之初 Ngau Tsai
1953 The Guiding Light 苦海明燈 Tin Sang (Juvenile)
A Mother's Tears 慈母淚
Blame it on Father 父之過 (Juvenile)
A Myriad Homes 千萬人家
In the Face of Demolition 危樓春曉 Wah
1955 Love (Part 1) 愛(上集) Ma Si-Hau's son
Love (Part 2) 愛(下集) Ma Si-Hau's son
An Orphan's Tragedy 孤星血淚 Frank / Fuk-Wan (Child)
Orphan's Song 孤兒行
We Owe It to Our Children 兒女債
1956 The Wise Guys Who Fool Around 詐痲納福 Yeung Siu-lung
Too Late for Divorce 早知當初我唔嫁 Kai Cheung
1957 The Thunderstorm 雷雨 Chow Chung
1960 The Orphan 人海孤鴻 Ah Sam
1969 Marlowe 醜聞喋血 Winslow Wong Also worked as action director. First Hollywood cameo.[41]
1971 The Big Boss 唐山大兄 Cheng Chao-an First Golden Harvest film. Pivotal film that turned Bruce Lee into a big star in Southeast Asia.[41]
1972 Fist of Fury 精武門 Chen Zhen Also worked as action director.
1972 The Way of the Dragon 猛龍過江 Tang Lung
1973 Enter the Dragon 龍爭虎鬥 Lee Also action director, writer and producer. Released six days after his death.

TV series

Year Title Chinese Title Role Notes
1966 The Milton Berle Show Kato Variety show where Bruce Lee plays Kato, his character in the TV series The Green Hornet.[42]
1966-1967 Batman Kato Appeared on three episodes, one of which was uncredited. [36]
The Green Hornet 青蜂侠 Kato Total of 26 episodes. Released after his death.[36]
1967 Ironside 無敵鐵探長 Leon Soo ` Guest star for one episode.
1969 Blondie Karate Instructor Guest star for one episode.
1969 Here Come the Brides 新娘駕到 Lin One episode.
1971 Longstreet 血灑長街 Li Tsung Four episodes.


Our critical biography provides an alternative perspective onto Lee’s legacy through analysis of his works, personal life and ongoing critical debates about his transcendental cultural impact.

Rather than plainly summarizing Lee’s eventful life, our wiki page offers a differing approach that touches on the idea of multiculturalism by bringing martial arts to the West. His short but influential life works demonstrate his impact on minority groups such as the oppressed Chinese as well as African-Americans. Similarly, Lee continues making an impact on today’s societal issues with his “be like water” philosophy within the Hong Kong protest movement.

Within modern pop culture, many producers and filmmakers are influenced by Bruce Lee’s works and oftentimes reference his style by using similar names, inspired bodily movements, movie references, well-known quotes, etc. A relevant example shown in anime would be the Sailor Moon & Naruto franchises that evidently take inspiration from Bruce Lee’s signature style in regards to their character designs. Additionally, his daughter Shannon Lee also actively promotes her father’s philosophy and legacy by producing new TV shows and films (such as Warrior) that reflect Lee’s unfulfilled desires.

Altogether, we believe our work sheds light on Bruce Lee’s impact within the film industry well after his unfortunate death as well as the continuous efforts to keep his legacy alive as demonstrated by the Bruceploitation phenomenon and associated memorabilia. That said, this page will provide insight for those curious a better understanding of celebrity culture and film studies, particularly focusing on topics of life after death, philosophy, globalization and multiculturalism.

UBC Asian Centre, Bell Shrine, Winter 2013.JPG
This resource was created by Course:ASIA321.

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  2. Lee, Linda. The Bruce Lee Story. United States: Ohara Publications. ISBN 0-89759-121-7 Check |isbn= value: checksum (help).
  3. Blake, John (July 7, 2018). "New Bruce Lee bio debunks myths about the 'kung fu Jesus'". CNN. Retrieved 03-27-2022. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. Lee, Shannon (Spring 2015). "Shannon Lee's AMA". AMA Forum.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Cha-Jua, Sundiata Keita (2008). "Black Audiences, Blaxploitation and Kung Fu Films, and Challenges to White Celluloid Masculinity". In Fu, Poshek (ed.). China forever: the Shaw Brothers and diasporic cinema. University of Illinois Press. pp. 199–223.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Lo, W. (Director). (1972). Fist of Fury [Film]. Golden Harvest.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Fore, Steve (2001). "Life Imitates Entertainment: Home and Dislocation in the Films of Jackie Chan". In Yau, Esther (ed.). At Full Speed. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 115–141.
  8. Lee, Bruce (1963). Gung Fu: The Philosophical Art of Self-Defense.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Bowman, Paul (2010). Theorizing Bruce Lee: Film fantasy fighting philosophy. Rodopi. ISBN 9042027770, 9789042027770 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help).
  10. Bowman, Paul (2013). Beyond Bruce Lee: Chasing the Dragon through Film, Philosophy, and Popular Culture. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231165293, 9780231165297 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help).
  11. Cha-Jua, Sundiata (2008). China forever: the Shaw Brothers and diasporic cinema. University of Illinois Press.
  12. Clouse, R. (Director). (1973). Enter the Dragon [Film]. Warner Bros. and Concord Production Inc.
  13. Lee, Shannon (2020). Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee. Flatiron Books. ISBN 1250206693, 9781250206695 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help).
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Ruby Rich, B (2019). "Be Like Water: Film, Politics, Legacy" (PDF). Film Quarterly. 73.
  15. Fun Chung, Hiu (2020). "Changing Repertoires of Contention in Hong Kong: A Case Study on the Anti-Extradition Bill Movement". Chine contemporaine. line feed character in |title= at position 49 (help)
  16. 16.0 16.1 Pringle, Tim (2021). "The Unionisation Wave in Hong Kong: The Noise before Defeat or the Route to Victory?". Global labour journal. 12.
  17. "US Senator backs 'Hong Kong Be Water Act' to seize assets of rights abusers". The Standard. 2019.
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  19. Teo, Stephen (2018). "The Mysterious Death Of Bruce Lee, Chinese Nationalism, And Cinematic Legacy". In Wang, David Der-wei (ed.). A New Literary History of Modern China. Cambridge, MA and London, England: Harvard University Press. pp. 707–712. doi: Check |doi= value (help).
  20. Hu, Brian (2008). "'Bruce Lee' after Bruce Lee: A life in conjectures". Journal of Chinese Cinemas. 2: 123–135. doi:10.1386/jcc.2.2.123_1 – via Taylor & Francis Online.
  21. Beck, Jerry (2005). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 1569762228, 9781569762226 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help).
  22. "Goku and Krillin vs Bruce Lee".
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Brackett, Crystal. "All The Ways Anime Is Inspired By Bruce Lee".
  24. Polly, Matthew (2019). Bruce Lee: A Life. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 1501187635, 9781501187636 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help).
  25. Tai, Wei Lim; Tuan, Yuen Kong (2018). Studying Hong Kong: 20 Years Of Political, Economic And Social Developments. World Scientific. ISBN 9813223561, 9789813223561 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help).
  26. Fujie, Kazuhisa; Lane, Matthew (2006). The Naruto Saga: The Unofficial Guide. DH Publishing Inc. ISBN 193289716X, 9781932897166 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help).
  27. Buckingham, David; Sefton-Green, Julian; Allison, Anne; Iwabuchi, Koichi (2004). Pikachu's Global Adventure: The Rise and Fall of Pokemon. Duke University Press. ISBN 0822385813, 9780822385813 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help).
  28. Oda, Eiichiro (2022). ONE PIECE 86. Elex Media Komputindo. ISBN 6020483991, 9786020483993 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help).
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