Bruce Lee fan club’s Yau Ma Tei shop set for final bout as faithful fight to keep martial arts legend’s legacy alive
Rising rent and flagging interest in late kung fu star made 200 sq ft Hong Kong store inviable, chairman says
A porcelain Bruce Lee statuette fetched HK$89,000 at auction on Saturday just a day before the city’s only fan club dedicated to the martial arts icon closes its flagship store in Yau Ma Tei.
With rent for the property rising to more than HK$10,000 a month coupled with flagging interest in the late kung fu movie star, who died more than 40 years ago, maintaining the 200 sq ft Bruce Lee Club store had become inviable, according to its chairman, who expressed regret more wasn’t being done in Hong Kong to keep Lee’s legacy alive.
“I feel very disappointed,” Andy Lee Yiu-Lung said outside the store at In’s Point shopping centre on Saturday.
“We’ve been here nearly 15 years, but now it is getting harder to introduce Bruce Lee to the youngsters, and we need to find somewhere with cheaper rent.”
The chairman lamented the lack of government support for the fan club and said interest in and awareness of kung fu’s biggest name was waning.
“Hongkongers don’t know enough about Bruce Lee, and they don’t spend time to pay attention to him,” said actor Danny Chan Kwok-kwan, who starred in a television series on Lee’s life and acted as auctioneer at Saturday’s event, which was run by the club.
Chan expressed sadness at the loss of the store, describing how he had a particular fondness for the fighter’s philosophical insights.
“He told us we have a universe inside all of us,” Chan said.
The light brown statuette features Lee in his signature fighting stance, and is a replica of the life-sized version that graces the Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront. With only 65 in circulation, it was the most valuable among the list of 21 items up for sale.
But one memorabilia collector said he felt unenthusiastic about the items under the hammer, as they consisted mostly of pictures, posters and books, many of which he already owned.
“The Bruce Lee brand faces a lot of competition these days, so I think the club should have diversified a bit,” he said, suggesting, among other options, a Pokemon-themed joint initiative.