Bruce Lee’s 1970s Kung Fu Substitute Defined
Following Bruce Lee’s demise, Hong Kong studios turned to martial arts actor Bruce Li, who proceeded to star in dozens of kung fu movies within the 1970s.
Following Bruce Lee’s demise, the icon was succeeded by plenty of martial arts actors expert in kung fu, with essentially the most notable of them being Bruce Li. Li’s lengthy profession within the trade allowed him to play the starring function in additional kung fu films than Lee himself.
The Hong Kong film trade was in shock after Bruce Lee died in July 1973, forward of the discharge of his first (and solely) Hollywood film, Enter the Dragon. Although he had solely starred in three martial arts films in Hong Kong, he had already modified studios approaches to their movies. One of many methods they reacted to his demise was to solid actors who may proceed his legacy; this together with discovering actors who appeared much like him, and having them fill roles akin to the characters Lee performed in The Massive Boss, Fist of Fury, and Means of the Dragon. The deal with capitalizing on Lee’s success induced this era in martial arts cinema to earn the identify “Bruceploitation”.
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Essentially the most well-known Bruceploitation actor within the 1970s was Bruce Li. Born Ho Chung Tao, the Taiwanese actor began out doing stunt work and small elements in Hong Kong films. That modified when Lee died, and the hunt for brand new lead actors who may change him started. A martial arts director who had acknowledged Ho’s ability and resemblance to Lee beneficial him to a producer, who determined to make Ho right into a star [via YouTube]. His identify was additionally modified to “Bruce Li”.
Between 1974 and 1982, Li starred in dozens of kung fu films. Many of those had titles, posters, and generally tales that straight linked him to Bruce Lee. Throughout his profession, he has performed Lee, a fictionalized model of Lee’s brother, a scholar of Lee’s, and extra. He additionally made sequels to Lee’s Fist of Fury. Amongst his different films are Fists of Bruce Lee, The Dragon Lives, Soul Brothers of Kung Fu, and Bruce Lee’s Secret. For essentially the most half, Li solely labored with smaller Hong Kong studios, slightly than the 2 giants within the trade, Golden Harvest and Shaw Brothers. Nevertheless, at one time Golden Harvest (the studio that Bruce Lee was contracted to) did attempt to rent Li to assist them end Lee’s incomplete movie, Recreation of Loss of life, by taking up his function. However Li, who objected to their strategy of getting a number of stand-ins as a substitute of only one, handed on the supply.
Lee retired from appearing within the early 1990s, and he has since mentioned his frustration with the way in which studios marketed his movies and his picture. Throughout the Bruceploitation period, a number of actors have been handled in the identical approach; they even needed to copy Lee’s mannerisms. A few of the posters for the flicks featured footage of the true Bruce Lee as a substitute of the celebrities. Li felt that he was unable to be himself in lots of his films, and that was an unlucky reality in regards to the state of the trade of the time. That being mentioned, it’s price noting that whereas Hong Kong studios did finally transfer on from Bruce Lee, a lot of Bruceploitation movies – a number of of which being Bruce Li’s – have developed into cult favorites for martial arts followers.
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