Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee has announced a new biopic about her father, the actor who helped turn martial arts into a global phenomenon.
“There have been projects out there involving my father but they’ve lacked a complete understanding of his philosophies and artistry,” she said in a statement. “They haven’t captured the essence of his beliefs in martial arts or storytelling. The only way to get audiences to understand the depth and uniqueness of my father is to generate our own material.”
She has teamed with Lawrence Grey, a producer of ensemble hit Last Vegas, who is financing the development of a script ahead of finding actors and a director. Janet Yang, who had a hand in developing 1993 Lee biopic Dragon, will also take a production role, saying: “In this age of an increasingly globalised culture, I can’t think of a more talented and innovative individual who embodies the best of east and west and who can inspire future generations.”
The film will be made with the approval of Bruce Lee Entertainment, a company set up two years ago by Lee’s estate to help bring official projects to fruition, including adverts for Mazda and Johnnie Walker. There is also a TV drama in development with Fast & Furious director Justin Lin attached, and a reality show for the Chinese market co-produced by Keanu Reeves.
Lee was four years old when her father unexpectedly died from a brain swelling, aged 32. After learning the martial art Wing Chun and winning an early role as Kato in a short-lived TV version of The Green Hornet, Lee established a foothold in Hollywood by teaching stars and choreographing fight sequences. It eventually led to a series of leading roles in martial arts thrillers such as The Big Boss, Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon, with his tragic early death further helping him become a global icon.
Another film about his life, Birth of the Dragon, is currently in development, though without the blessing of Bruce Lee Entertainment. Written by Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen Rivele, who have penned the acclaimed films Nixon and Ali as well as forthcoming Freddie Mercury and Miles Davis biopics, the film will use Lee’s notorious private fight with Wong Jack Man as a jumping-off point for a mafia thriller.