Bruce Lee

Did bad feng shui kill Bruce Lee? Talk continues to this day that it played a part in actor’s death

Forty-five years after he died, there is still speculation that the martial arts superstar died because of a curse, with Lee’s home at 41 Cumberland Road, Kowloon Tong, long rumoured to have suffered from bad feng shui

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 July, 2018, 7:04am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 July, 2018, 7:34pm

In a special series commemorating the 45th anniversary of Bruce Lee’s death on July 20, 1973, we aim to set the facts straight – as well as exploring some little known trivia – about the life of the martial arts legend.

There’s still speculation that Bruce Lee died because of a curse. But according to the Post publication Memoirs of an Asian Moviegoer, the word at the time was that he was a victim of bad feng shui.

Quoting an article published a week after Lee’s death on July 20, 1973, the book says: “Lee’s sudden and untimely death last Friday immediately led a neighbour to say that he knew something bad was in the offing because a tree in the star’s home at Kowloon Tong was blown down by Typhoon Dot. [Typhoon Dot struck Hong Kong in July 1973, causing storm force winds and killing one person]. This, the neighbour claimed was a bad omen resulting in the death of Lee.”

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Feng shui is a supernatural belief that the spatial arrangement of objects can have favourable or unfavourable effects on nearby people, their wealth or poverty, health and death. When moving into a new apartment, a geomancer is hired to arrange furniture so that the feng shui is benign, and architects sometimes consult geomancers while designing buildings.

Location can also play a role, with some areas being deemed to have bad feng shui. Kowloon Tong, where Lee lived at 41 Cumberland Road, was rumoured to have bad feng shui. (Lee did not die in Cumberland Road, but in the flat of actress Betty Ting Pei, at nearby 67 Beacon Hill Road.)

“The Chinese press said that Bruce Lee knew about the bad feng shui prevailing in the area and he installed a feng shui deflector on the roof of his home in Cumberland Road,” the book says, quoting the same article. “This deflector, a pat kwe [bagua] – an octagon-shaped wooden frame with a mirror in the centre – was found missing after Typhoon Dot lashed Hong Kong. In the absence of it, Bruce Lee became vulnerable, some say. So the story goes that if he had lived elsewhere, Bruce Lee would have lived longer.”

Other reports suggest that Lee’s friends Unicorn Chan and Wu Ngan set up the deflector, as they had arranged for a geomancer to examine the property before Lee moved in. Lee himself was apparently not superstitious, but he didn’t object.

It was also rumoured that Lee’s choice of The Game of Death as the title of his next film was responsible for his death. “The Chinese press reported that film director Lo Wei [who directed Lee in The Big Boss and Fist of Fury] had warned him about the film’s name, which he said should be carefully chosen,” the book says, quoting the article.

Lee died of a cerebral oedema, although what brought that on has never been confirmed, and speculation has run rife since. The coroner’s inquest said that it may have been an allergic reaction to aspirin, and recorded a verdict of death by misadventure. In his biography Bruce Lee: A Life, Matthew Polly speculates that the cause of death might have been heatstroke.

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In a television interview, Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, who worked as a stuntman on the set of Lee’s Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon, said that the notion of any supernatural causes behind Lee’s death was ridiculous. “Everyone in Hong Kong knows what happened,” he said. “I don’t want to say it, but just Google it.”

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