The transcript below is from the video “The Life of Bruce Lee” by

Phoebe (

Bruce Lee’s life was even more fascinating than you know. Welcome to And today, we’re looking at the life and career of Bruce Lee, who we now know as Bruce Lee, was born Lee Jun-fan in San Francisco, California on November 27, 1940.

Hoi-chuen, accompanied by his wife Grace Ho, was in the midst of a one-year tour of the United States when young Bruce kicked his way into the world. The then six-piece Lee family returned to Hong Kong in the early 1940s and Bruce’s parents soon introduced him into the entertainment industry. Bruce began acting around 1946 with his first credited role in ‘The Birth of Mankind.’ He subsequently appeared in over a dozen movies throughout the fifties. Bruce’s teenage years certainly diverse. Aside from acting in movies, Bruce also studied dance and eventually became Hong Kong’s Crown Colony Cha-Cha champion in 1958. Dancing aside, he’s also a bit of a rebellious child, which led him to joining a gang and taking part in street fights. It was from these very fights that Bruce began to study the art of combat and analyze different fighting styles and techniques.

Phoebe (

He began to hone his art, studying kung fu under Ip Man. The 16-year old Lee was a very diligent and hard-working student and he even once tricked his classmates into thinking class had been cancelled, leaving Bruce all alone with Ip Man for a unique one-on-one session. When Bruce was 18 years old, he moved to the United States. The reason for the move is typically linked to his street fighting. But legend states that Lee beat up the son of a very dangerous triad family and fled to the United States for safety. Robert Lee, Bruce’s younger brother, recall the police officer told his father that Bruce would be thrown in jail if he didn’t stop fighting. Either way, Bruce’s lifestyle was getting him in trouble.

And so, it was off to the United States to live a more productive and peaceful life. Lee finished high school in the States and eventually enrolled in the University of Washington. To support himself financially, he opened a studio and taught kung fu. The studio, known as the Jun-fan Gung Fu Institute in Seattle, opened in 1960 and was active as a school until 1967.

(video clips from “The Greatest: Bruce Lee”)

Phoebe (

While the sight of Bruce’s first school in Seattle’s Chinatown is now a restaurant, the memories of the early days are still fresh.

Lee married his girlfriend Linda Emery in 1964 and the two oved to California. Here they had their two children, Brandon born 1965 and Shannon in 1969. This move proved fortuitous as Bruce soon landed the iconic role of Kato in ABC’s the Green Hornet.

(video clips from “The Green Hornet”)

Excuse me, please. Let me.

Phoebe (

Of course, the show and role are largely only iconic due to Lee’s later fame and tragic early death. At the time, The Green Hornet was not very popular. And it was cancelled by ABC after just one season from September 1966 to March 1967. Bruce subsequently opened two new martial arts studios in California. One in Oakland and one in LA. In these schools, Lee taught his own unique style of fighting called ‘jeet kune do’ or the way of the intercepting fist. This style was a product of Lee’s philosophical mind. Lee took copious notes and kept a journal that highlighted his belief system.

Shannon Lee:
He’s extremely goal-oriented and extremely creative and he was always in process and working things out in writing, by physically writing them down in his notebook.

Phoebe (

His philosophies helped shape is informal and formless fighting techniques. ‘Empty your mind,’ he concluded, ‘be formless, shapeless like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.’ While the Green Hornet was a failure, it did introduce Bruce Lee to an American audience and he was advised to leverage his newfound fame to teach kung fu to the Hollywood elite. He did just that, charging a hundred and fifty dollars per hour or five hundred dollars for ten lessons.

(video clips from Longstreet)

Bruce Lee:
Relax. Relax. That’s the eye-flick.

Phoebe (

He taught big-name celebrities like James Coburn, Roman Polanski, and Steve McQueen, who Lee called his greatest student. In Lee’s own words, ‘That son of a gun has the toughness in him.’

(interview clip)

Bruce Lee
I mean he would say, ‘Alright, baby, here I am.’ And you know, he’ll do it.

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Despite teaching a-list stars, this was a difficult time for the Lee family. Teaching wasn’t paying the bills, and acting work was hard to come by. As a result of these dire times, Bruce’s wife, Linda worked evenings to help support the family. To make matters worse, Bruce was incapacitated for several months after suffering a debilitating back injury while exercising.

(video clips from Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story)

Bruce Lee actor
Don’t touch me! I don’t’ want you here! I don’t’ want you! Get out! Go!

Phoebe (

Things were looking bad for the family, but a trip to Hong Kong with his son Brandon, proved incredibly fortuitous for Bruce. The Green Hornet was very popular in Hong Kong and Bruce was a national celebrity. He was getting recognized on the streets and was even invited to a variety show to demonstrate his skills. He used his popularity to leverage into a movie contract with distributor Golden Harvest.

(video clip from The Big Boss)

Bruce Lee:
Now, I know the whole story. Listen, buddy, you’re not going anywhere.

Phoebe (

Bruce was paid $15,000 for two movies which eventually became ‘The Big Boss,’ and ‘Fist of Fury’.

(video clip from Fist of Fury)

(Bruce Lee speaking lines in Chinese)

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These two movies launched Bruce Lee to super stardom in his native Hong Kong and he opened a production company with Raymond Chow called the ‘Concorde Production Incorporated.’ The company produced ‘Way of the Dragon’ which Lee also wrote, directed, and starred in.

(fight scene with Chuck Norris from Way of the Dragon)

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The success of these movies garnered the attention of Warner Brothers and they entered an agreement with both Concorde and Golden Harvest to help produce and distribute a new movie called, ‘Enter the Dragon.’

(fight scene from Enter the Dragon)

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The movie became an instant classic when it was released on August 19, 1973 and helped launch the martial arts craze of the 70s. Unfortunately, by then, Bruce was not alive to enjoy it. Bruce began to experience signs of ill health in May of 1973. He was suffering from seizures and headaches and on May 10th he collapsed during and ADR session for Enter the Dragon. He was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with cerebral edema or brain swelling. Sent to UCLA Medical Center, doctors determined that he’d had a grand mal seizure but no cause. Granted a clean bill of health otherwise, Lee returned to Hong Kong to plan his next movie, ‘Game of Death.’

(video clip from Game of Death)

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He went to the apartment of Taiwanese actress Betty Ting and reported feeling ill and light-headed. After taking some Equagesic given to him by Ting, Lee went to lie down for a nap to hopefully sleep off the sickness. Lee died in his sleep on the evening of July 20th, 1973. The coroner identified his cause of death as another cerebral edema. Two months later, forensic experts Donald Teare was assigned to Lee’s case and claimed that Lee had a hypersensitivity to the drug given to him by Ting. Raymond Chow, the co-founder of Concorde Production Inc., also holds this opinion and stated that Lee died from an allergic reaction from meprobamate, the active ingredient in Equagesic. Lee’s legacy lives on and he’s now known as one of the quintessential martial artists. He was named one of the one hundred most influential people of the 20th century by time.

(video clip from Enter the Dragon)

I see your talents have gone beyond the mere physical level. Your skills are now at the point of spiritual insight.

Phoebe (

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Various statues of him have been unveiled around the world including in his native Hong Kong, Mostar, and Los Angeles. His movies are classics. Modern filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino still honors Lee’s legacy and Tarantino even put Lee into his movie, ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.’ Portrayed by actor and martial artist Mike Mo.

(video clip from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

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However, this portrayal drew criticism by various public figures including Bruce’s daughter, Shannon. She stated, ‘Bruce was continuously marginalized and treated like a kind of nuisance of a human being by white Hollywood, which is how he’s treated in the film.

(video clip from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Look, man. I don’t want any trouble. I’m just here to do a job.

Bruce Lee:
You’re laughing at what I’m saying but I’m not saying anything funny. So, what do you think is so funny?

Phoebe (

Bruce is survived by his wife, Linda Lee Caldwell and his daughter Shannon. Unfortunately, his son Brandon passed away after a shocking accident while filming ‘The Crow.’ He passed away in 1993, the 20th anniversary of his father’s death.

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