Bruce Lee Films and Television

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Bruce Lee Movies and Television Series

Bruce Lee's Early Movie and Television Career

Lee had his first role as a baby who was carried onto the stage. By the time he was 18, he had appeared in twenty films. While in the United States from 1958-1964, Lee abandoned thoughts of a film career in favor of pursuing martial arts. However, after Lee's high-profile martial arts demonstration at the 1964 Long Beach Karate Tournament, he was seen by some of the nation's most proficient martial artists--as well as the hairdresser of Batman producer William Dozier. Dozier soon invited Lee for an audition, where Lee so impressed the producers with his lightning-fast moves that he earned the role of Kato alongside Van Williams in the TV series The Green Hornet. The show lasted just one season, from 1966 to 1967. Lee would also play Kato in three episodes of the series Batman, produced by the same company as The Green Hornet. This was followed by guest appearances in a host of television series, including Ironside (1967) and Here Come the Brides (1969).


Bruce Lee Movie and Television Clips

In 1969, Lee made his first major film appearance in Marlowe.  In the film, Lee's henchman character is hired to intimidate private detective Philip Marlowe (played by James Garner) by smashing up his office with leaping kicks and flashing punches, only to later accidentally jump off a tall building while trying to kick Marlowe off. In 1971, Lee appeared in four episodes of the television series Longstreet as the martial arts instructor of the title character Mike Longstreet. Bruce would later pitch a television series of his own tentatively titled The Warrior. Allegedly, Lee's concept was retooled and renamed Kung Fu, but if so, Warner Bros. gave Lee no credit. The role of the Shaolin monk in the Wild West, known to have been coveted by Bruce, was awarded to non-martial artist David Carradine, purportedly because of the studio's belief that a Chinese leading man would not be embraced by the American public.

Bruce Lee's Return to Hong Kong

Not happy with his supporting roles in the U.S., Lee returned to Hong Kong and was offered a film contract by legendary director Raymond Chow and his production company Golden Harvest. Lee played his first leading role in The Big Boss (1971) which proved an enormous box office success across Asia and catapulted him to stardom. He soon followed up his success with two more huge box office successes: Fist of Fury (1972) and Way of the Dragon (1972). For Way of the Dragon, he took complete control of the film's production as the writer, director, star, and choreographer of the fight scenes. In 1964, at a demonstration in Long Beach, California, Lee had met karate champion Chuck Norris. In Way of the Dragon Lee introduced Norris to moviegoers as his opponent in the final death fight at the Colosseum in Rome, today considered one of Lee's most legendary fight scenes.



In 1973, Lee played the lead role in Enter the Dragon (1973), his first film to be produced jointly by Golden Harvest and Warner Bros. This film would skyrocket Lee to fame in the U.S. and Europe. However, only a few months after the film's completion and three weeks before its release, the supremely fit Lee mysteriously died. Enter the Dragon would go on to become one of the year's highest grossing films and cemented Lee as a martial arts legend. It was made for US$850,000 in 1973. To date, Enter the Dragon has grossed over $200 million worldwide. The movie sparked a brief fad in the martial-arts epitomized in songs like "Kung Fu Fighting" and TV shows like Kung Fu.

Robert Clouse, the director of Enter the Dragon, and Raymond Chow attempted to finish Lee's incomplete film Game of Death which Lee was also set to write and direct. Lee had shot over 100 minutes of footage, including outtakes, for Game of Death before shooting was stopped to allow him to work on Enter the Dragon. In addition to Abdul-Jabbar, George Lazenby, Hapkido master Ji Han Jae and another Lee student, Dan Inosanto were also to appear in the film, which was to culminate in Lee's character, Hai Tien taking on a series of different challenge on each floor as they make their way through a five-level pagoda. In a controversial move, Robert Clouse finished the film using a look-alike and archive footage of Lee from his other films with a new storyline and cast, which was released in 1979. However, the cobbled-together film contained only fifteen minutes of actual footage of Lee while the rest had a Lee look-alike, Tai Chung Kim, and Yuen Biao as stunt double. The unused footage Lee had filmed was recovered 22 years later and included in the documentary Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey.

Complete Listing of Bruce Movies

Game of Death 2 (1981)
Game of Death (1978
Enter the Dragon (1973)
Return of the Dragon (1972)
Fist of Fury (1972)
The Big Boss (1971)
Marlowe (1969)
Ren hai gu hong (1960)
Lei yu (1957)
Zha dian na fu (1956)
Zao zhi dang cu wo bu jia (1956)
Er nu zhai (1955)
Gu xing xue lei (1955)
Gu er xing (1955)
Ai (1955)
Wei lou chun xiao (1953)
Ci mu lei (1953)
Ku hai ming deng (1953)
Qian wan ren jia (1953)
Fu zhi guo (1953)
Ren zhi Chu (1951)
Xi lu xiang (1950)
Meng li xi shi (1949)
Fu gui fu yun (1948)
The Birth of Mankind (1946)
Golden Gate Girl (1941)

Fun Fact: Bruce Lee's Real Name

Lee's Cantonese given name was Jun-fan. The name literally means "return again"; it was given to Lee by his mother, who felt he would return to the United States once he came to of age.] Because of his mother's superstitious nature, she originally named him Sai-fon, which is a girl's name. The English name "Bruce" was thought to be given by the hospital attending physician, Dr. Mary Glover.

Lee had three other Chinese names: Li Yuanxin (李源鑫), a family/clan name; Li Yuanjian (李元鑒), as a student name while he was attending La Salle College, and his Chinese stage name Li Xiaolong (李小龍; Xiaolong means "young dragon"). Lee's given name Jun-fan was originally written in Chinese as 震藩, however, the Jun (震) Chinese character was identical to part of his grandfather's name, Lee Jun-biu (李震彪). Hence, the Chinese character for Jun in Lee's name was changed to the homonym 振 instead, to avoid naming taboo in Chinese tradition.

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