Bruce Lee is back with a vengeance.
My good friend, fellow sparring partner and martial arts legend has returned to the cultural scenery through the 2008-2009 openings of a 40-episode biopic miniseries, a Broadway show, a remake of "Enter the Dragon" and the creation of a theme park. And news about these events is stirring the pot of inquiry and controversy about him once again, as it was before his sudden and unfortunate death in 1973 at the young age of 32.
"The Legend of Bruce Lee," which is being filmed in China, Hong Kong and the U.S. and contains an international cast, is poised to deliver a fitting veneration to the kung fu king of screen. This television biography might contain fictionalized episodes, but it will resurrect Bruce's personhood and talents before a whole new generation. It stars Chan Kwok-kwan, who has an uncanny resemblance to Lee but whose greatest challenge remains to convince the viewing audience of his mastery of martial arts with only a dancing background.
Equally entertaining will be Warner Bros.' remake of the 1973 classic "Enter the Dragon." The new film will be titled "Awaken the Dragon." It will loosely follow the original, which tracks an FBI agent who investigates a Shaolin monk and underground kung fu fighting clubs. Still unanswered, however, is, Who will (or can) play Lee's character?
I don't imagine Bruce ever could have imagined himself on Broadway, but composer and Tony Award nominee David Yazbek is placing him front and center stage through his scores in an upcoming musical based upon Lee's life.
And in southeast China, there is even a $29 million theme park being erected in Bruce's honor, which will include a martial arts academy and a memorial hall. And just in time, with the world's spotlight on the Beijing Olympics.
With the mania over this iconoclastic giant, curiosity is once again knocking on even my doorstep. What was Bruce Lee like? How did you meet? What was it like to choreograph the fight scene in Rome with him? Did you spend much time together off-screen? Those are a small sampling of the inquiries I'm asked often, wherever I go around the world.
However, the question probably most asked of me is, Do you think you could have beaten Bruce Lee in a professional competition?
Many have opined about the answer. Some even indicted what I haven't said. For example, contrary to the Toronto Star's recent report, I have not admitted that I "would be no match for Lee in a real fight."
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