Be like water, my friend.
In 1971, Bruce Lee was at another crossroads.
He’d been a child actor in Hong Kong, then moved to the states (where he had citizenship, having been born in San Francisco) and studied at the University of Washington (Drama major). He’d started teaching and trading skills with a group of young men in Seattle, and through one of them, met James Yimm Lee, an Oakland resident with whom he found a kindred spirit in their take on martial arts (whatever works).
He moved to Oakland and opened a school there (under his Chinese name, Jun Fan). Again, a connection he made here led him to meet Ed Parker, an LA resident and martial arts enthusiast. He went down to LA and did some demos at Ed Parker events and met a producer and this led to a part in the TV show The Green Hornet. A year later, he was getting a few parts here and there thanks to his friends, but not enough. His student, Sterling Silliphant, wrote him into a dream part on the TV show Longstreet, but then that was over too.
His producer friend recommended he go make a feature film in Hong Kong (who were making him offers, off his Green Hornet fame), which he could then show to US Producers and to prove his box office viability. He make a 2 picture deal with Golden Harvest and the rest is history. This interview was right after his first HK film, The Big Boss was released. It was a smash hit.
The film was an instant success, taking just 3 days to reach HK$1 million, and a week to reach HK$2 million. By the end of its relatively brief run (ending on 18 November), The Big Boss had made HK$3.2 million, shattering the previous record held by The Sound of Music by more than HK$800,000. An estimated 1.2 million people in Hong Kong, out of a population of four million, had paid to watch the film. It remained the highest-grossing film of all time in Hong Kong until Lee’s second film, Fist of Fury, was released in March 1972.
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