The rumors are true about the new Bruce Lee, and it’s not DK Yoo.
I’ve got all of the details, so let’s unpack everything because this is some really big news that you’ll want to hear if you’re a big Bruce Lee fan!
So ever since Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon, was handed the reigns of the Bruce Lee estate from her mother, Linda Lee Cadwell, she’s been involved with quite a few projects to keep her father’s legacy current with pop culture.
Shannon negotiated the whole Bruce tea thing, and I’m sure she played a big role in the deal with Nokia for that ping pong nunchucks commercial that people still believe is the real Bruce Lee, even though it’s not. Shannon also put together at least 2 major documentary films on her father’s life and legacy with the most recent one being ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Be Like Water” documentary.
Now when it comes to Bruce Lee on the big screen, Shannon has been very outspoken about Bruce’s depiction in movies like,”Birth of the Dragon,” and more recently, Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.” Now as outspoken as Shannon has been about the mischaracterization of Bruce Lee in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and in “Birth of the Dragon,” the Bruce Lee Estate hasn’t exactly given us an accurate depiction of Bruce Lee either.
In 1993, “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” gave us a Bruce Lee biopic loosely based on Linda’s “Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew,” and then 15 years later there was “The Legend of Bruce Lee” television series made in China where Shannon received executive producer credits. Neither of these projects gave us an accurate depiction of Bruce Lee, his life, and his friends and colleagues, despite Bruce’s family having some kind of involvement. Other people tried taking a shot bringing Bruce Lee to the big screen, but they were met with obstacles by Shannon, including the 2010 movie “Bruce Lee, My Brother” that was produced and narrated by Bruce Lee’s younger brother, Robert Lee.
Shannon’s statement regarding all of these Bruce Lee projects was that she was working on delivering an accurate Bruce Lee biopic to Bruce Lee fans, but the thing is, she’s been saying this for about 10 years. The most recent time being after she called for Bruce Lee fans to boycott the “Birth of the Dragon” movie in 2016.
Shannon made a statement that the Bruce Lee estate was working on bringing an accurate depiction of Bruce Lee to the screen. Well, after years of promising Bruce Lee fans that the Bruce Lee Estate was working on the definitive Bruce Lee biopic, Shannon has finally made good on her word as Deadline announced that Sony’s 300 Pictures has finalized a deal that will see the Oscar-winning director, Ang Lee, direct “Bruce Lee,” and Ang Lee’s son, Mason Lee, will be in the lead role as Bruce Lee.
Now Ang Lee is most known for directing Best Foreign Film Oscar winner “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” in 2000. That movie remains the highest-grossing international film in the United States, and if you’re a fan of the MCU, then you probably know he also directed The Incredible Hulk in 2003, but a great film that a lot of people don’t know about that was directed by Ang Lee is 1991’s “Pushing Hands.” This was actually Ang Lee’s directorial debut, and it’s about an elderly Chinese Taiji Master who moves from Beijing to New York to live with his son. It deals with all the struggles of this Kung Fu master from a different world moving to America to live with his son and his very American family and his very caring daughter-in-law.
I can see some parallels between Sihung Lung in that film and Bruce Lee’s struggles when he first moved to the United States from Hong Kong in 1959. On that topic, Ang Lee spoke with Deadline saying, “Accepted as neither fully American nor fully Chinese, Bruce Lee was a bridge between East and West who introduced Chinese Kung Fu to the world, a scientist of combat and an iconic performing artist who revolutionized both the martial arts and action cinema. I feel compelled to tell the story of this brilliant, unique human being who yearned for belonging, possessed tremendous power in a 135-pound frame, and who, through tireless hard work, made impossible dreams into reality.”
Now I mentioned that Ang Li’s son, Mason Li, was cast in the starring role to play Bruce Lee in this upcoming biopic. Mason has done about 20 films, according to his IMDB page, but they have mostly been Taiwanese projects. In the west, Mason’s most known role is as Teddy, the little brother who gets lost in Bangkok, in “The Hangover Part 2.”
That movie came out over 10 years ago, so like I said, most of Mason’s work has been in Chinese movies and shows since then. Now I just watched one of Mason’s most recent projects, “Reclaim,” where he was some kind of venture capitalist who steals the main character’s money. It wasn’t exactly a physical role at all, but I wanted to get a look at something recent starring this kid who is going to be the next actor to portray Bruce Lee in what’s supposed to be the definitive project documenting the life of the Little Dragon. And it’s funny that I say “kid,” because Mason Li is actually 32 years old, meaning he’s the same age right now as Bruce Lee was when he passed unexpectedly in 1973. And the thing is Mason doesn’t look like Jason Scott Lee or Phillip Ng, two actors who were able to give us a physique reminiscent of Bruce Lee on the screen in their respective projects. Even Mike Moh, who played a caricature version of Bruce Lee in Quentin Tarantino’s movie is a really fit guy and a lifelong martial artist.
Mason Li has reportedly been training for 3 years for this role, but right now I have my worries about his version of Bruce Lee. Like with Jason Scott Lee in “Dragon: A Bruce Lee Story,” I think it’s most important that Mason plays his own version of Bruce Lee and not attempt to imitate the real Bruce Lee. I think Mason might have the acting chops to pull off a story about the life of Bruce Lee, but like I said, it’s the physical stuff that worries me, and I feel like Bruce Lee’s physicality was a part of his charisma. But who knows, this Bruce Lee movie may turn out to be like the original intent for the first Donnie Yen, “Ip Man” movie where it was supposed to document a small part of his life and not meant to tell the entire story, which became increasingly more fictionalized in the case of the Donnie Yen Ip Man movies. But we will have to wait and see how things develop with this film, as well as with Mason Lee.
Now regardless of my personal concerns about Mason Lee stepping into this role, I think it could be a good thing for Bruce Lee fans. With the right marketing behind it, this could thrust Bruce Lee back into the mainstream and create more interest with a new generation the same way “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” did back when I was in high school. In all honesty, I knew very little about Bruce Lee before I saw that movie, and after I saw it, I ran out and purchased my first copy of the Tao of Jeet Kune Do and my first Bruce Lee movie, “Way of the Dragon.”
So whether the movie is a hit, or a flop, for people interested in Bruce Lee, it will be interesting to pick apart the details in the story that Shannon chooses to tell about her father and his accomplishments. And since I mentioned picking apart the details of Bruce Lee movies, I’m going to be starting a new series here,” Bruce Lee: The Man & The Myth,” where I’ll actually be looking at some of the Bruce Lee biopics and talking about what they got completely wrong and giving the story of what really happened. Some of those stories are things y’all have been requesting, like if Bruce Lee really fought any Thai boxers while filming “The Big Boss” in Thailand, and yo man, the answer is going to surprise everyone.
I said this when I first started making Bruce Lee videos 2 years ago that Bruce Li’s “Bruce Lee: The Man and The Myth” is the best Brucesploitation movie, and it’s also the best Bruce Lee biopic to date because well, it turned to be the source of a major event involving Bruce Lee’s secret fight. And you could call it a real fight, but the naysayers, you know, the guys who have all the facts about how Bruce Lee never fought even though they probably know nothing about this fight that was so real that it’s in a movie with one of Bruce Lee’s friends as a witness. Meaning he was probably really there. So you’ll have to stay tuned for all this stuff I’ve been sitting on while I’ve been on break the last 2 months.
Anyway, how are you guys feeling about this news that Oscar award-winning director Ang Lee is directing a Bruce Lee biopic with Shannon as an executive producer and Mason Lee in the starring role? Let me know your thoughts and stay tuned for more news on this film as well as my breakdowns on other Bruce Lee biopic films.
And if you want to hear more on Bruce Lee, hey be sure to check out this video about things you probably didn’t know about Bruce Lee’s training methods, or you can check out this other video to hear why Bruce Lee kicked the crap out of his student, Bob Baker, in front of an audience on a talk show in Hong Kong. And before I go, hey I just want to say thanks to all of you for the support last year at the end of 2022, Goldenbell Training became the #1 channel on YouTube for Bruce Lee-related content. I really appreciate you guys, even the people who talk smack in the comments and say they’re coming to Thailand to beat me up. Anyway, guys, keep training, remember to breathe, and come back to see me on the next video because I promise you, I’ve got some hot topics coming this year. Stay tuned.
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