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Get Reel: Film Archive resurrects Bruce Lee


For many people, Bruce Lee remains Hong Kong cinema's most globally recognised and popular star - this despite his untimely death at the age of 32 on July 20, 1973.

Over the years, I've been reminded of Lee's emblematic place in popular culture, from spotting a poster of him on sale alongside James Dean and Che Guevara in Istanbul, being treated to a Bruce-Lee-inspired "kung fu dance" in Tanzania, and the many references to him in Hollywood and locally.

I've been reminded of Lee's emblematic place in popular culture

And I imagine there are people who associate Rome's Colosseum more with Lee's iconic duel with Chuck Norris in The Way of the Dragon than the gladiators who fought there.

That film was screened as part of the Hong Kong Film Archive's "100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies" programme earlier this year. Those who missed that 1972 martial arts classic, which Lee directed and starred in, should take note that it will be shown again on October 27 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death - and also to celebrate Unesco's World Day for Audiovisual Heritage.

Also screening at the Film Archive in the coming months are four other works in which Lee features, dating back to the 1950s when he was a child actor.

Although the man whose Chinese stage name translates to "Little Dragon" was just 10 when he took the lead role in Fung Fung's The Kid, his trademark cheeky charm and confident swagger were already on full display in this drama, which also starred Lee's father, Lee Hoi-Chuen.

And while Bruce Lee doesn't play as large a role in In the Face of Demolition (1953) as he did in The Kid, A Son is Born (1953) or An Orphan's Tragedy (1955), I still highly recommend Lee Tit's neo-realist drama about the struggling residents of a housing block, not least because it has a message that is relevant for Hongkongers 60 years after it was made and 40 years after its young cast member's still-lamented demise.

Yvonne Teh, film editor


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