Ang Lee to make Bruce Lee biopic starring his son

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, December 7, 2022
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World-renowned director Ang Lee will direct a biopic of Bruce Lee with his son Mason Lee playing the late kung fu icon.

Composite image of director Ang Lee and kung fu superstar Bruce Lee. [Photo/VCG]

"Accepted as neither fully American nor fully Chinese, Bruce Lee was a bridge between East and West who introduced Chinese Kung Fu to the world, a scientist of combat and an iconic performing artist who revolutionized both the martial arts and action cinema," Ang Lee, 68, said in a statement on the legacy of Bruce Lee, who died in 1973 at the young age of 32. The two are not related, despite sharing the same surname.

"I feel compelled to tell the story of this brilliant, unique human being who yearned for belonging, possessed tremendous power in a 135-pound-frame, and who, through tireless hard work, made impossible dreams into reality," he noted.

Ang Lee, the legendary director who won an Academy Award for best foreign language film in 2001 for the classic Chinese martial arts action movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," went on to win the Oscar for best director twice for "Brokeback Mountain" (2005) and "Life of Pi" (2012). It was reported that Ang Lee has been "working quietly" on the project for years, and scriptwriter Dan Futterman is currently creating the screenplay. 

Elizabeth Gabler, an executive at Sony Pictures Entertainment's 3000 Pictures, described the upcoming project as a "longtime passion project" for Ang Lee and "a deeply emotional story depicting the triumphs and conflicts of one of the foremost real-life action heroes of our time."

"All of us at Sony and 3000 Pictures are proud to help Ang and his filmmaking team create what we believe will be an extraordinary theatrical event," Gabler added.

It was also revealed that Ang Lee's son, actor Mason Lee, 32, who is the same age as Bruce Lee was when he died, will play the kung fu master, according to entertainment media outlet Deadline. Mason Lee has been training for the last three years in preparation for the role.

Ang Lee and his son Mason Lee at a promotional event for "Gemini Man" in 2019. [Photo/VCG]

Mason previously acted in his father's 2016 film "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk," as well as 2011's "The Hangover Part II," and several Chinese films such as "Legend of the Demon Cat" (2017), "Dead Pigs" (2018), "Stand by Me" (2019), and the latest "Reclaim" (2022).

Bruce Lee, who starred in some of the most classic kung fu movies, including "Fist of Fury" (1972), "The Way of the Dragon" (1972) and "Enter the Dragon" (1973), is considered a trailblazer who helped break down barriers in the North American market for Asian actors. He has been the subject of various documentaries and biopics over the past few decades, such as "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story" (1993), "Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey" (2000), "Birth of the Dragon" (2016) and "Be Water" (2020). In 2019, director Quentin Tarantino also included a fictional version of Lee, played by Mike Moh, in "Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood." However, the high-profile depiction proved controversial and left many Chinese people and Bruce Lee's family unhappy. Bruce's daughter, Shannon Lee, has criticized it as a "caricature."

But for Ang Lee's adaptation, Shannon Lee has given her blessings and will join the project as a producer, according to Variety. Other producers including Lawrence Grey, Ben Everard, and Brian Bell, as well as Elizabeth Gabler and Marisa Paiva, who represent Sony and 3000 Pictures, will coordinate the project along with the director. The film reunites Lee with Gabler, Paiva and Tom Rothman, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group, after their successful collaboration for "Life of Pi."

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