A special theme park bearing a statue and a memorial hall will be built in honor of the late action star Bruce Lee in his ancestral home in Foshan in south China's Guangdong Province. A ceremony laying the first stone of the memorial hall was held yesterday, the day of Bruce Lee's 66th birthday.
At 10:30 AM yesterday, a foundation-laying ceremony was held in Jun'an Town, Shunde District, Foshan City, Guangdong Province. Bruce's little brother, Robert Lee, and his ex-girlfriend, actress Betty Ting Pei, attended the event.
With an investment of 200 million yuan (US$25.5 million), Jun'an's government is planning a theme park to cover 1.89 million square kilometers, which will include Bruce Lee Square, the world's biggest Bruce Lee Memorial Hall and a performing square capable of accommodating 2,500 people. The jewel in the crown will be a 18.8-meter-high granite statue of the kung fu star for fans paying tribute to their fallen hero.
Furthermore, 28 attached projects will also be realized, including hotels, spas, casinos, an international conference center, a Bruce Lee Literature & Martial Arts Academy and a zoology screening hall. Combining Bruce Lee's martial arts legacy and Shunde's local culture, the theme park complex will gather together natural environment, humanity, leisure, education, entertainment and major events. The theme park is expected to be completed in 3 years' time.
Robert Lee, 58, spoke at the ceremony that Bruce Lee's spirit is from Shunde and from China. The establishment of the memorial hall and the park will allow more and more people to discover Bruce Lee and Chinese martial arts culture, much of which's popularity can be placed at the feet of the action pioneer.
Chinese mainland's first Bruce Lee Memorial Hall has been moved from Shunde's Daliang to Jun'an Town. The temporary memorial is exhibiting images, documents and weapons relating to Bruce Lee, including the exciting three-section cudgel, which was donated by Robert Lee and Ting Pei this time.
Robert Lee said it was his second time coming to his ancestral hometown. He was here in 2004 to attend a Bruce's commemoration event. He said he was so moved by Shunde's decision to build the memorial for Bruce. He revealed that he is penning a script on Bruce Lee's legendary life and his journey from normal guy to kung fu icon, as well as a detailed interpretation of Lee's fighting method Jeet Kune Do.
Bruce Lee's martial arts legacy and his profound impact upon its culture can perhaps best be understood through his innovative Jeet Kun Do. Lee viewed traditional martial art styles as too restrictive, being too dependent as they were on specific forms and stances. He felt that true martial art knowledge could only be achieved through fluidity of movement, through the breaking of any constraints and by widely-varied knowledge. To fully clarify his view, in a 1971 interview with Black Belt magazine, Lee said "Let it be understood once and for all that I have NOT invented a new style, composite or modification. I have in no way set Jeet Kune Do within a distinct form governed by laws that distinguish it from 'this' style or 'that' method. On the contrary, I hope to free my comrades from bondage to styles, patterns and doctrines."
His interest in philosophy started during his degree in the subject at the University of Washington and his teachings for Jeet Kun Do were drawn from sources as diverse as Taoism, Buddhism and Krishnamurthy.
"I'm so glad to see my fellow hometown people, who are very warmhearted. Thus far, there are still so many people adoring my brother, wanting to know my brother, cheering for his stories... I'm thrilled." Robert said as nearly a thousand fans turned out for the event.
Yesterday also shooting begin on the documentary My Boyfriend Bruce Lee. The ceremony will be part of the final production. The film will be directed by China Central Television's (CCTV) director Yuan Mingfu and produced by Li Weimin. However, Robert said he didn't know about it and expressed copyright concerns.
One of the screenplay writers Huang Dechao, also the deputy director of Bruce Lee Memorial and an expert on Bruce Lee, explained the story will be based on Ting Pei's memories from 1970 when Lee was back to Hong Kong to his death.
Ting Pei told present media that although Bruce Lee didn't grow in Shunde, local people still pay such respect to Lee, she was moved. "I will be here more and more in the future." She also added that Bruce Lee will be in her heart and guide her way forever. It is the first time for her to be in Jun'an Town.
Bruce Lee boosted the popularity of martial arts films around the world, starring in cult classics like Fists of Fury and Enter the Dragon. He died from a brain hemorrhage in Hong Kong in 1973, aged 32. It was reported that the Bruce Lee brand is worth more than US$1 billion and represents is a huge gold mountain for venture dealers to develop their business through movies, books and more.
Some may claim Shunde is using Bruce's legacy to promote its own name and Foshan Daily
quoted the publicity director Liang Huiying from Shunde District's government frankly admitting that, "When the memorial is finished, Shunde will be able to further dig out the social and economic benefit from Lee's brand, which will surely boost Shunde's tourism, and help Shunde open up to the whole world."
Huang Dechao told the Zhujiang Business Post that Bruce is definitely the window for Shunde to be known by the world. "Shunde is Lee's root. His spirit is from here. The spirit is Shunde's spirit after all. So we decided to develop Lee's brand and legacy right in the place."
Claims to Bruce Lee's legacy have come fast and furious since his death in 1973. The actor was born in San Francisco from Chinese ancestry but has become very closely affiliated with China. His movies often portrayed staunch Chinese values such as patriotism, pride and strength and he endeared himself to Chinese citizens from his early appearances in Hong Kong films when known as Li Xiaolong. Shunde, his parents' ancestral home has often hosted events in his honor as has Hong Kong where Bruce Lee's career took off. The US has also admired Lee as a home-grown hero due to his iconic movies and fights against household names in the states such as Kareem Abdul-Jabber or Chuck Norris. Ultimately, it may best perhaps be recognized that the legend of Bruce Lee has outgrown the man's to become a true bridge of shared experience and common bonds between East and West. Perhaps the image would not have displeased him.
Kids visit the temporary Bruce Lee memorial
Robert Lee, Bruce's brother, at the ceremony
Ting Pei, Bruce's ex-girlfriend, at the ceremony
Kung fu performance
A fan performs.
Huang Dechao shows off an epigraph for the memorial from Xu Cai, former chairman of Wushu Federation of Asia.
(China.org.cn by Zhang Rui and Chris Dalby, November 28, 2006)