A slower legacy for Bruce Lee in Chinese ancestral town

Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:28am EDT
 
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By James Pomfret

SHUNDE, China (Reuters) - In the sleepy town of Xiacun in southern China, elders doze and children play along "little dragon" alley, which winds its way to the ancestral home of kung fu star Bruce Lee.

The small, grey-brick courtyard house contains old photos of Lee on the walls, an altar, a musty bedroom and a wooden dummy used for martial arts training, but visitors are few and far between, and other efforts by the town's council to commemorate their most famous son are also off the tourist radar.

While Lee is renowned the world over as a martial arts legend with a slew of action flicks to his name, back in his father's Chinese hometown, where many share the Lee name, his legacy remains low-key, even in 2010, the 70th anniversary of his birth.

"We don't really think about it that much," said a young woman sitting on the threshold of a home next door.

Local officials, however, have been trying to change that.

Millions have been invested in a park filled with lakes and rare birds, and called Bruce Lee Paradise, that authorities in Shunde and nearby Foshan hope will become a major tourist draw.

"Lee's image and reputation are becoming more and more familiar now in Foshan," said Chen Xian, the administration manager of Bruce Lee Paradise. "The Bruce Lee brand is something we've been trying actively to promote ... he's someone the Chinese people should be proud of."

The motivation is part cultural, part commercial. But the park, nearly 90 minutes by car from Guangzhou along dusty highways, remains largely off the beaten tourist track.   Continued...

 
<p>Martial arts practitioner Wang Hongxin performs with nunchaku sticks, a martial arts weapon that Bruce Lee excelled at, at the city of Shunde in China's southern Guangdong province March 18, 2010. In the sleepy town of Xiacun in southern China, elders doze and children play along "little dragon" alley, which winds its way to the ancestral home of kung fu star Bruce Lee. The small, grey-brick courtyard house contains old photos of Lee on the walls, an altar, a musty bedroom and a wooden dummy used for martial arts training, but visitors are few and far between, and other efforts by the town's council to commemorate their most famous son are also off the tourist radar. Chinese character on the background reads "Fight". Picture taken March 18, 2010. REUTERS/Bobby Yip</p>