Bruce Lee is without doubt Hong Kong's most famous son. The 40th anniversary today of the untimely death of the martial arts legend and movie star is being marked by fans around the world, proving the strength of his enduring appeal. Despite his iconic status, though, it is odd that the only fixed reminder of him in our city has been a bronze statue on the harbourfront in Tsim Sha Tsui. Admirers are to be commended for resolutely beginning the work of righting the wrong.
A memorial trail of six locations linked to the pop culture icon will be launched this morning beside the statue on the Walk of Stars. A HK$1 million donation from the government's Film Development Fund helped make the project a reality. Fans have plans for other events over the coming 12 months, but what Hong Kong will still lack is a museum dedicated to his memory. It would be a fitting tribute to Lee if years of unfulfilled plans could finally get kick-started.
There has long been such a proposal for his former home at 41 Cumberland Road in Kowloon Tong, but disagreement between the owner and authorities has prevented it from becoming reality. It is not a matter of funding or whether Hong Kong needs such a place. All that is required is for the sides to find common ground. A museum would not only satisfy the expectations of tourists, who find Lee's limited recognition in his hometown surprising, but would also give residents a place to celebrate someone who enriched their lives and strengthened their city's international standing.
Lee's martial artistry was famed for speed, accuracy and power. Like all legends, he had flaws, among them being moody and temperamental. But when he died this day in 1973 at the age of 32 of an allergic reaction to medication, he had already created his own form of martial arts and philosophy, jeet kune do, sown the seeds of Hong Kong's action film industry, and helped bridge racial and cultural divides, winning a legion of fans and admirers that continues to grow. It is good he is finally starting to get the local recognition he deserves.