Shannon Lee was born on the 19 April, 1969, in Los Angeles, California, USA to the famous martial arts expert and film star, Bruce Lee and his wife Linda Lee Cadwell. She had an elder brother named Brandon Lee. She is the granddaughter of Lee Hoi-chuen, a renowned Cantonese opera singer. She is of Chinese, German and Swedish descent.
She lived in Hong Kong from 1971 to 1973 with her parents till her father died a sudden death at the age of 32. Her mother moved to the USA after the death of her husband and lived in Seattle, Washington with her children. Later, she remarried twice but always remained close to Shannon.
Shannon was 4 years old when her father died and did not fully understand the implications of his death. She was brought up with her brother in Rolling Hills, California and attended Chadwick school from where she graduated in 1978. She went on to study voice at the Tulane University in New Orleans from where she majored in music in 1991. During her university days, she took part in numerous concerts, operas and musical shows.
Her brother Brandon Lee died of gunshot wounds due to an accident while shooting for a movie after which Shannon moved to Los Angeles in 1993 to pursue a career in acting. She was then 27 years old and wanted to carry on with the legacy of her father. She learned the martial art called Jeet Kune Do from Richard Bustillo who was her father’s student and further improved her martial arts skills with serious training under another of her father’s pupils named Ten Wong.
She also learned Taekwondo and Wushu under Dung Doa and Eric Chen respectively. Later, she mastered Kickboxing, which she displayed while shooting for her movie roles. She made her debut in movies playing a small role as a singer in her father’s biopic titled Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is a 1993 American biographical drama film directed and co-written by Rob Cohen and stars Jason Scott Lee, Lauren Holly, Nancy Kwan and Robert Wagner. The film follows the life of actor and martial artist Bruce Lee (Jason) from his relocation to the United States from Hong Kong to his career as a martial arts teacher and then as a television and film actor. It also focuses on the relationship between Bruce and his wife Linda Lee Cadwell and the racism to which Bruce was subjected. The primary source of the screenplay is Cadwell’s 1975 biography Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew. Other sources include Robert Klaus’s book Bruce Lee, the biography and research by Cohen, including interviews with Cadwell and Bruce’s son Brandon Lee. Rather than a traditional biographical film, Cohen decided to include elements of mysticism and to dramatize fight scenes to give it the same tone as the films in which Bruce starred. The Dragon was filmed primarily in Hong Kong, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story received generally positive reviews with critics typically finding it entertaining despite criticisms of its veneration of Bruce. Jason was widely praised for his performance. The film was a commercial success and its revenue exceeded box office averages for biographical films which was attributed to its romantic themes and its appeal to people outside the traditional Kung Fu film audience. A video game adaptation of the same name was released the following year. Dragon was dedicated to Brandon who died several weeks before its release. This was followed by her appearance in the movies Cage 2 and High Voltage where she had a more significant role. High Voltage is a 1997 direct-to-video action film directed by Isaac Florentine.
In 1998, she got a major break with her role in the Hong Kong action movie Enter the Eagles, where she appeared with Michael Wong and Anita Yuen. The movie received positive reviews and her rating received a boost on the Hong Kong movie charts.
Enter the Eagles, also known in the United States as And Now You’re Dead, is a 1998 Hong Kong action thriller film directed by Corey Yuen, and starring Michael Wong, Anita Yuen, Jordan Chan, Shannon Lee, Benny Urquidez and Jordan Andrew Perry.
Like Shannon Lee’s late brother Brandon Lee’s film Legacy of Rage (1986), this was Shannon Lee’s first and only film produced in Hong Kong and co-stars Michael Wong, who played Michael Wan in Legacy of Rage.
Her career on television includes a guest appearance in one of the episodes of Martial Law with Sammo Hung in 1998.
Martial Law is an American action-adventure comedy television series created by Carlton Cuse that aired on CBS from September 26, 1998 to May 13, 2000. The title character Sammo Law (Sammo Hung) is a Chinese law officer and martial arts expert who comes to Los Angeles in search of a colleague and remains in the United States. The show was a surprise hit, making Hung the only East Asian headlining a primetime network series in the United States. At the time, Hung was not fluent in English and worried about the audience’s ability to understand him. In many scenes, Hung does not speak at all, making martial law one of the few United States television series to feature little dialogue from the lead character. The show lasted two seasons before being canceled due to high production costs and Hung being unhappy with the writing of season two, and an appearance in the telefilm Epic which was broadcast on the sci-fi channel in 2001.
Epic is a 2001 science fiction film directed by Matt Codd, starring David Keith, Stephanie Niznik, Brian Thompson and Shannon Lee. The film concerns the discovery of a strange and mysterious monolith and the tribulations faced by the team sent to study it.
She also hosted the first season of WMAC Masters, which features choreographed martial arts fights on television. Her own training in martial arts gave her the confidence to host the show. She also sang for the American Noise pop band Medicine’s album titled The Mechanical Forces of Love in 2003 and the number I’m in the Mood for Love for the film China Strike Force. She has made a number of other musical performances during her chequered career.
She was instrumental in establishing the Bruce Lee Foundation in 2002 to promote her father’s legacy. The family’s rights to her father’s franchisee were handed over to establish the Bruce Lee Enterprises of which she is the CEO. This is an agency that licenses anything that is linked to the name of Bruce Lee. With her perseverance, the foundation raised $35 million to build the Bruce Lee Action Museum in Seattle, USA.
Shannon Lee has proved to be a shrewd businesswoman and entrepreneur. There have been numerous challenges in her life which she has fought using her father’s philosophy to come out the ultimate winner. Lee is president of the Bruce Lee Foundation. She was the executive producer of the 2008 television series The Legend of Bruce Lee based on her father’s life and the 2009 documentary film How Bruce Lee changed the world.
The Legend of Bruce Lee is a 2008 Chinese biographical martial arts television series based on the life story of martial artist and actor Bruce Lee. The 50-episode series was produced and broadcast by CCTV and began airing on October 12, 2008. It stars Hong Kong actor Danny Chan as Bruce Lee and American actress Michelle Lang as Lee’s wife Linda Lee Cadwell. The production period spanned 9 months, with filming taking place in China, Hong Kong, Macau, the United States, Italy and Thailand and with a budget of ¥50 million. Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, is credited as executive producer of the series. Other martial artists such as Mark Dacascos, Ray Park, Gary Daniels, Ernest Miller and Michael Jai White are also featured in this series, playing the roles of martial artists prominent throughout Bruce Lee’s life and career.
In 2015, Perfect Storm Entertainment and Shannon Lee announced that the series Warrior, based on an original idea by Bruce Lee, would be produced in air on Cinemax. Filmmaker Justin Lin was chosen to direct the series which debuted on April 5th 2019.
Shannon got married to a lawyer named Anthony Keasler in 1994. They have a daughter named Wren Lee Keasler. She is a strong believer in her father’s philosophy of ‘honestly express yourself, be your best self, cultivate yourself and don’t imitate anyone’. She has dedicated her life to carry her father’s name and legacy forward.
There have always been frictions and legal disputes between Shannon and her father’s other siblings and their children over the rights to her father’s legacy. While she and her mother are based in the USA, the rest of her father’s family are traditionally Chinese. Though the two sides do not communicate much, Shannon has endeavoured to keep the relationship cordial.
When Bruce Lee died, his legacy was divided as 50% to his wife, Linda Lee and 25% each to his two children, Shannon and Brandon. This became a bone of contention with the rest of her father’s family who maintained that they were not kept informed.
In 2010, she took the copyright issue to China and accused companies of using Bruce Lee’s name without the authorization of the Bruce Lee Foundation. She also approached the local authorities of Bruce Lee’s ancestral home to hand over Bruce Lee’s trademark to the Foundation.
She was advised to stop acting because both her father and brother had died untimely while acting. However, she continued with her career of acting in order to maintain her father’s legacy.
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