The Kid is All Right: Remembering Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee was an actor long before he mesmerized the wholeworld with his kung fu films. In fact, he made his filming debut at the age of one - one month, in December 1940, when he was still an infant, for the film Golden Gate Girl (1941).
The son of noted Cantonese opera star and film actor Lee Hoichuen, young Bruce grew up in the film industry and appeared regularly in movies, 23 in all before he left for America to attend university.
He was already a highly accomplished actor in that early phase, winning not only a starring role in The Kid (1950) at the age of ten but also critical accolades, crowned, for example, by one critic as "genius child actor". Superlative though it is, such a label is no exaggeration. Young Lee was at once a born actor and an instinctive star, blessed with acting skills that deliver effectively a wide range of emotional expressions and a charisma that compels the camera to adore. By turns physical and sensitive, with great control of both body and mind, he evinced an understanding of character and story only the best of child actors can naturally possess.
The young Bruce Lee is also symbolic of his time. He played mostly two kinds of roles, a child who suffers the harshness of an unforgiving world or a juvenile delinquent led astray by the seductive but exploitative side of urbanity. In some significant ways, he was Hong Kong.
2010 is the 70th anniversary of Bruce Lee's birth. The Hong Kong Film Archive is presenting "The Kid is All Right", a program of Lee's early films on his birthday, November 27, as a tribute to this great star and legendary actor.