Memories and memorabilia of Bruce Lee

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-12-19 10:22
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For the legend to live, there must be the means and reminders to jolt memory

More than 40 years after Bruce Lee died, Hong Kong is finally going to do something to commemorate its most famous film celebrity. He had his own statue raised on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront's Avenue of the Stars - and now his own museum is to be built.

A Hong Kong Bruce Lee Museum will be set up at his former home in Kowloon Tong where he lived from 1972 to his death in 1973.

It is in an upmarket residential area with a rather eclectic mix of millionaires' homes and discreet drive-in love motels. In fact, 41 Cumberland Road did spend some time as a love motel called Romance before it was bought over by local property tycoon Yu Pang-lin.

The tycoon had initially wanted to sell it to raise funds for the 2008 Sichuan earthquake victims, but an outcry from Bruce Lee fans changed his mind. He has since approached the Hong Kong administration with plans to turn the house into a museum. Bruce Lee's study will be recreated but more importantly, fans will be able to see his training room and a selection of his favorite martial arts equipment.

Yu wants a fund set up to preserve and protect the museum, a condition he demanded before he handed the property over.

"I hope I can personally witness and oversee the completion of the Bruce Lee museum in my lifetime," the 88-year-old Yu had said. The latest news was that a design competition for the museum had been launched.

But while the mills in Hong Kong slowly grind, Lee's ancestral province of Shunde, Guangdong is like a rocket off the launchpad.

Although Lee never visited Shunde, his father, opera actor Lee Hoi-chuen, was originally from the southern Chinese county known for its famous chefs and kungfu masters. That connection made Lee a son of Shunde as far as antecedents go and a huge theme park dedicated to his memory is currently the pride of Foshan City.

It boasts an 18-meter-tall statue of Bruce Lee in his famous fighting stance and covers 1.89 million square kilometers, including the world's biggest Bruce Lee Memorial Hall and a performing square capable of accommodating 2,500 people.

This grandiose scale will be hard to beat, but the Bruce Lee Foundation (BLF) in the United States, chaired by wife Linda and led by his daughter Shannon, is planning a museum as well. On its website, the Bruce Lee Foundation sets out this mission statement:

"It has long been the dream of the Bruce Lee Foundation to build a Bruce Lee Museum. We see this home, this museum, not as a martial arts history museum or a Bruce Lee memorabilia museum but as a place that encompasses and expresses the totality of Bruce Lee's legacy ...

"Bruce Lee was a dynamic action star and screen presence, an innovative thinker, a person who broke boundaries of race, culture, and tradition, an innovative family man, and now, a global icon."

The BLF has chosen to place the museum in Seattle, where the kungfu star lived from 1959 to 1964. In the works is a $50 million, three-storey building with two outdoor plazas, a meditation room, a library and a 250-seat theater - and the action star's image sand-blasted onto a mirror facing the entrance.