The Legend of Bruce Lee is a TV adaptation of the book published in 1974, written by Alex Ben Block. In 2008 Netflix wrote a screenplay based on this iconic Chinese fighter and developed a 50-episode series produced by none other than Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon.
The production period lasted nine months, filming in China, Hong Kong, Macau, United States, Italy, and Thailand, with a total budget of $7.3 million.
What makes Bruce Lee’s life story so compelling and therefore an excellent TV series was the humility and loss of face he had to endure, to become the legend he is today.
The Legend of Bruce Lee is set in a British school in Hong Kong where he first starts to develop his desire to become a skilled fighter.
Bruce Lee (Danny Chan Kwok-kwan) is often bullied by his classmates especially Blair Lewis (Ted Duran) and seen as an inferior because he is Chinese. But Bruce Lee is determined to prove himself and like many martial artists he must first set out on a journey of self-discovery.
Eventually through the loss of a duel with “Yellow Brat”, a servant and student of the Wang Yunsheng Kung Fu Centre, and with his pride and ego damaged, Bruce Lee is accepted to study with kung fu Master Yu Wen, played by the late Cheng-Hui Yu.
The Legend of Bruce Lee is a semi-autobiography. As a fan of the man, I can understand how the viewer could be mesmerised into thinking that the life of Bruce Lee is some kind of Cinderella story.
However as a critic, I should say that there are some aspects of the series that leave much to be desired.
For starters, the acting is over dramatic and the dubbed dialogue makes it hard for the viewer to be captivated. While Danny Chan’s acting as Bruce Lee was spot on, the acting of many other cast members are a far cry from what you would imagine them to be from the book.
There is also some blatant Chinese propaganda against Japanese culture in the series. In one scene, Bruce Lee defeats a group of Japanese fighters and says something to the effect, “We don’t ever want to see your Japanese culture again”.
There are only three classic fight icons in Cambodian pop culture and they are Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and John Cena. With that said, and despite the flaws, it is worth at the end of the day to watch a TV series on Bruce Lee.
The fights scenes in The Legend of Bruce Lee are well choreographed and entertaining and there is enough background on the martial artist’s life to justify why he is a legend today.