Remembering Bruce Lee: A cultural icon

Birth anniversary special: 4 reasons why Bruce Lee was 'more than a hero'

Remembering Bruce Lee on his birth anniversary: A cultural icon

Bruce Lee in 'Big Boss'. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

There's no denying the fact that Bruce Lee was a cultural icon who broke stereotypes with his impressive body of work. A competent actor and a martial expert, he enjoyed an enviable fan following due to his strong screen presence and macho reel image. On Friday, as fans remember the 'Dragon' on his birth anniversary, here is a look at why the legend was 'more than a hero'.

The beginnings: Lee, the son of opera star Lee Hoi-Chuen, began his acting career with a minor role in the 1941 release Golden Gate Girl. He acted alongside his father in The Kid at the age of nine,. According to several reports, Lee had been a part of nearly 20 movies by the time he turned 18. 

An impressive start: Lee began his acting career on an impressive note as Big Boss, his first film in a lead role, emerged as a runaway hit at the box office while receiving rave reviews. According to most critics, he overshadowed established actor James Tien in the action-packed movie, gaining plenty of attention for the right reasons. 

Breaking stereotypes: He is widely credited for breaking stereotypes while giving the West its first major 'Asian-American male hero'. Speaking to DH, trade analyst Ramesh Bala said that Lee was able to do justice to action/combat sequences because of his expertise in martial arts. 

"He did not really act in those scenes because he was a martial artist in real life," he added.

Rich legacy: Several popular actors and storytellers tried to capitalise on Lee's popularity following his death in 1973. Bruce Li and Bruce Le were two noted martial artists who imitated the legend on the big screen, becoming a part of the 'Bruceploitation'  movement. This resulted in several unofficial sequels to Lee's work, adding a new dimension to his legacy. The TV series The Legend of Bruce Lee, backed by Shanon Lee, touched upon various incidents from the life of the Enter The Dragon actor.