Bruce Lee's legacy still debated 40 years after his death

Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:45am EDT
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By Brian Yap

Hong Kong (Reuters) - Late kung fu superstar Bruce Lee may be an international icon, but he is still not the complete local hero in Hong Kong.

Fans are marking his death 40 years ago this weekend with art gallery shows, exhibitions and even street graffiti but some people are urging Hong Kong's government to do more to honor the former British colony's biggest star.

Lawmakers and scholars have joined calls from fans, fearing the government is wary of fully embracing Lee's legacy. His enduring spirit of youthful rebellion and a willingness to fight big oppressors may have spooked city leaders prone to second-guessing their political masters in Beijing.

"The Hong Kong government or the people on top of the governing body are not thinking, first of all, in terms of Hong Kong people's mindset," said Lo Wai-luk, an associate professor in the Academy of Film at Hong Kong Baptist University.

"They think of how to do something to please the main Chinese government, or not to violate" what they think Beijing likes, he said.

American-born but raised in Hong Kong, Lee died of brain swelling aged just 32 at the height of his fame. His most popular film, the worldwide blockbuster Enter the Dragon, was released just six days after his death in 1973.

The government did not respond to Reuters questions but in recent statements it has outlined a number of officially backed efforts to mark the anniversary.

It has supported a five-year exhibition, due to be opened on Friday by the city Financial Secretary John Tsang at a museum. The government film archive is also producing documentaries of his life and new prints of some of Lee's films.   Continued...

A shopkeeper introduces a latest Chinese edition of "Bruce Lee's Fighting Method" by the late Kung Fu legend Bruce Lee on the first day of the week-long Hong Kong Book Fair July 17, 2013. July 20 marks the 40th anniversary of the Lee's death, with memorial events to be held by his fans in the territory. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu