August 27, 2006
What's in a name? Cash
Bruce Lee's family tries to guard his legacy against Chinese entrepreneurs looking to turn a profit.
By Robert W. Welkos and Don Lee, Times Staff Writers
IN the southern Chinese city of Shunde, a two-hour boat ride from Hong Kong,
government officials are finalizing plans to build a Bruce Lee theme park, complete with a
memorial hall and a large statue of the man they call the town's favorite "son."
Never mind that the legendary Chinese American kung fu star was born in San Francisco
and visited Shunde only briefly, when he was a boy of 5. Shunde is the hometown of Lee's
father and grandfather, and that was enough for local resident Wang Dechao to prod the
government to plow $125,000 into opening a Bruce Lee museum in an old teashop in
Shunde in 2002.
Since then, more than 300,000
people, some paying $1 for
admission, have come to see its
collection of Bruce Lee's rare
letters, film posters and other
memorabilia. Wang, who now
works for Shunde's cultural and
sports authority, hopes to move
the museum to the new theme
park, which he says is projected
to cost $19 million and open
before the 2008 Summer
Olympics in Beijing.
CCTV, China's national network,
has plans to produce a 40-part
documentary about Bruce Lee.
Meanwhile, Bruce Lee's brother,
Robert, is planning a movie
about him, as is one of Lee's
former students. They all have their sights set on completing the works by the Beijing
"I believe we will see another round of Bruce Lee fever," Wang said.
Although he has been dead 33 years, Bruce Lee remains an enduringly powerful cultural
Gate," the latest Hong Kong martial arts hit starring Donnie Yen.
When asked about Bruce Lee, Xu exclaimed, "He's excellent!"
"I love the funny sounds he makes every time he fights," Xu said. But the man scratched his head at the notion of a Bruce
Lee theme park. "It would have to have something special besides his name for me to go," he said.
That some Chinese