Bruce Lee is widely regarded as a great legendary martial arts fighter. He was born in 1940 in San Francisco, but grew up in Hong Kong. He became interested in martial arts after he got beat up by Hong Kong gangs. His family sent him to live with relatives in Seattle, Washington. Not satisfied with being a waiter in the family’s restaurant, Bruce started a school to teach Chinese martial arts.
Bruce moves with his wife Linda to Oakland, California and opens another school and teaches students of all races and nationalities. His study leads him to openly criticize traditional Chinese Kung Fu, calling it “a classical mess, it looks good, but it doesn’t work”. The Chinese martial arts community is furious and sends a challenger, Wong Jack Man to disgrace him. Wong tells Bruce that he is not allowed to teach non-Chinese, and if Wong wins, then he must close his school, but if Bruce wins, he can continue to teach non-Chinese. Bruce wins, but realizes that his physical condition and technique needs to improve.
Bruce starts to develop his own martial arts style. He combined different fighting styles based on real life combat situations, challenging traditional martial arts. He criticizes current day karate tournaments, which were rehearsed and in which the opponents didn’t even make contact, calling them ‘glorified games of tag’.
Bruce wants to take his philosophy to the media, and was cast as Kato in the Green Hornet TV series, which lasted only one season. He wanted to pursue a movie career, but found racial prejudice in Hollywood, which was not interested in a Chinese leading man. He pitched an idea for what eventually became the series Kung Fu, but the studio decided not to cast him, instead casting caucasian David Carradine in the leading role.
Frustrated and living in near poverty with a family to support, Bruce decided to take his talents to Hong Kong, where he made three movies and became a big star. He was working on his fourth movie when Warner Brothers offered him to make the movie Enter the Dragon.
After completing Enter the Dragon, Bruce returned to Hong Kong to finish his last movie, Game of Death. One night after filming, he complained of a headache, and his female co-star gave him a prescription medicine. After taking the pill, he never woke up and died at the age of 32 of cerebral edema, or brain swelling. Bruce passed away three weeks before the debut of Enter the Dragon in 1973.