September 30, 2023

HONG KONG (AP) — Followers of late martial arts legend Bruce Lee, who broke damaging stereotypes round Asian males in movies, gathered in Hong Kong this week to commemorate their idol’s loss of life half a century in the past, remembering his legacy and his life philosophy on persistence.

Lee, who was born in San Francisco however raised within the Asian monetary hub, was well-known for his martial arts expertise and his battle in opposition to racist portrayals of Asians on large and small screens within the Nineteen Sixties and 70s. He died on the peak of his fame attributable to an allergic response to painkillers when he was 32.

The fiftieth anniversary of Lee’s loss of life on Thursday drew followers to exhibitions in Hong Kong on his life and profession. Additionally they laid flowers at his statue on the Avenue of Stars, a vacationer attraction modeled on the Hollywood Stroll of Fame on the Kowloon shore of Victoria Harbor.

Followers collect in entrance of the statue of martial artist Bruce Lee to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of his loss of life in Hong Kong, Thursday, July 20, 2023. (AP Photograph/Louise Delmotte)

A government-run museum organized a camp for college students to study Lee’s legacy by introducing them to Jeet Kune Do, the martial arts model that Lee invented and practiced. The museum additionally screened his movies.

Lots of Lee’s supporters mentioned his philosophy impressed them since they had been younger, though many solely discovered about him and his works after his loss of life.

Sophie Uekawa, a translator, mentioned she was initially drawn to Lee’s muscular physique and easy strikes on TV. However she was later impressed by his phrases, together with about how sad circumstances finally move. When Uekawa was bullied by schoolmates in secondary college, Lee’s quotes helped her endure emotions of helplessness.

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“It may be mentioned that he’s my savior,” Uekawa mentioned.

Lee started his profession as a toddler actor within the Nineteen Forties and began studying Chinese language kung fu when he was 13. He moved again to the U.S. in 1959 and studied philosophy on the College of Washington.

The famous person fought exhausting in opposition to racist stereotypes within the U.S. leisure trade the place Asian males had been typically portrayed as servants, unskilled staff or evil geniuses in Hollywood.

Lee finally went again to Hong Kong and made hits like “The Massive Boss” and “Fist of Fury.” His final movie, “Enter the Dragon,” was launched six days after his loss of life and have become his hottest film. He was one of many first Asian actors to achieve Hollywood megastardom and fanned a kung fu craze that swept the world.

On Thursday, W Wong, the chairperson of a Bruce Lee fan membership in Hong Kong, was touched to see followers from totally different international locations together with Britain and Korea gathering at Lee’s statue to pay tribute to him.

However Wong mentioned demographics of the membership established almost three many years in the past are altering as members get older and that it has just one member in his 20s.

“We face issues in passing on our work,” Wong mentioned, though the group nonetheless has some 600 members.

An teacher at a martial arts institute in Hong Kong’s Jordan district says greater than half of the studio’s Jeet Kune Do college students got here to study the martial arts model due to Lee.

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Trainer Ricky Fong mentioned adaptability is essential in Jeet Kune Do and life and pointed to considered one of Lee’s most well-known sayings: “Be water, my buddy.” The phrase was steadily utilized by protesters in Hong Kong’s 2019 pro-democracy motion to explain their guerrilla technique of transferring fluidly throughout town.

One in every of Fong’s college students, Adrian Li, mentioned he admired Lee’s martial arts expertise and philosophy. He added that Lee’s eagerness to continue to learn has influenced him deeply.

“Not be bounded by something. One can study quite a bit,” he mentioned.