Tuesday, July 29, 2008

35 years on....

Remembering Bruce Lee in Hong Kong

Sunday marked the 35th anniversary of the death of martial-arts film legend Bruce Lee at the young age of 32. But it was hard to find any trace of a tribute at his old residence in Hong Kong, which has been converted to a rooms-by-the-hour love motel. For Lee’s devoted fans (site mostly in Chinese), there has been little hope of converting the Kowloon Tong site into a shrine befitting the kung fu icon—one the most recognizable Chinese people of the 20th century. Until now.

Bruce Lee’s former home at 41 Cumberland Road in Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, is now a love motel, but may someday become a museum honoring the martial arts icon.

Lee’s two-story home was to be sold this month for as much as $13 million to benefit victims of the Sichuan earthquake, but owner/philanthropist Yu Pang-lin, responding to appeals from Lee’s fans, decided instead to donate the property to the city so it can be turned into a museum. Under Hong Kong law, the government would need to approve Yu’s proposal. It won’t be easy; Yu wants to expand the roughly 5,000-square-foot site to add a 25,000-square-foot building, complete with library, cinema and martial arts center. So far, town planning and antiquities boards have told local media that the ambitious plan may not meet standards required for such a project.

Still, fans are hoping that the city where the San Francisco-born action star made his biggest mark will offer something more informative than the eight-foot-two-inch bronze statue on the harbor that was unveiled in 2005. While a memorial service was held on Sunday in Seattle, where Lee is buried, memorials are popping up around the world, with many wondering when Hong Kong will unveil its own museum.

Lee’s ancestral village in Guangdong province, Shunde, converted his family’s old home into a museum and named a street after him in 2002, despite a slim connection to Lee himself. But Shunde certainly has more of connection than another notable tribute, a statue in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. That statue, which isn’t meant to honor Lee himself as much as “the very idea of justice” he represented, was dedicated Nov. 26, 2005—the day before Lee’s birthday and a day before Hong Kong’s statue dedication.

In the meantime, Bruce Lee fans in Hong Kong can check out the exhibition of photos and memorabilia organized by the Hong Kong-based Bruce Lee Club through July 28 at Innocentre, 72 Tat Chee Avenue, a few blocks away from Lee’s old home in Kowloon Tong.”

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