Ang Lee and Mason Lee in Bruce Lee Movie

Top Director Ang Lee Enlists Son to Play Martial Arts Icon Bruce Lee

Mason Lee, son of celebrated director Ang Lee, is set to star as one of the most influential martial artists of all time — Bruce ‘Little Dragon’ Lee

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terra wang
12:59 PM HKT, Fri December 2, 2022 2 mins read

Ang Lee, the Oscar-winning director of Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Life of Pi (2012), is set to direct a biopic about Chinese-American martial arts legend Bruce Lee. Ang’s son, Manson Lee, will play the action icon in the upcoming film, and the two do look alike — even though the three Lees are not related.

According to Deadline, the biopic is being developed by Sony’s 3000 Pictures, and Dan Futterman, who wrote Capote (2005) and Foxcatcher (2014), is adapting the script. Moreover, Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, is one of the producers.

Ang Lee was the first non-white filmmaker to win the Academy Award for Best Director, taking home the Oscar in 2005 for Brokeback Mountain. He claimed the same honor again in 2012 for Life of Pi. Ang’s 2000 martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon still holds the title of the highest-grossing foreign-language film in U.S. history.

Bruce Lee, who died in 1973 at the age of 32, made a lasting impact on Hollywood, Chinese cinema, and martial arts during his lifetime. Born in San Francisco and raised in Hong Kong, Bruce became a child actor thanks to his father.

Photo of Bruce Lee from the film Fists of Fury

Bruce Lee’s name is often tossed around when discussing the most influential martial artists of all time. Some have even credited his hybrid martial arts philosophy with helping to inspire modern mixed martial arts (MMA).

“Accepted as neither fully American nor fully Chinese, Bruce Lee was a bridge between East and West who introduced Chinese kung fu to the world, a scientist of combat and an iconic performing artist who revolutionized both the martial arts and action cinema,” Ang told Deadline. “I feel compelled to tell the story of this brilliant, unique human being who yearned for belonging, possessed tremendous power in a 135-pound-frame, and who, through tireless hard work, made impossible dreams into reality.”

The notable filmmaker’s 32-year-old son Mason has allegedly been training for this role in Asia for the past three years.

First appearing in Ang’s 1993 romcom The Wedding Banquet as a baby, Mason has been nominated twice for the Golden Horse Award for Best Supporting Actor: in 2017 for the Taiwanese thriller Who Killed Cock Robin and in 2021 for the Hong Kong film Limbo.

The announcement of a new Bruce Lee biopic has drawn considerable attention on Chinese social media platforms, with a related hashtag garnering more than 61 million views on the microblogging site Weibo at the time of writing. While many commenters are tempering their expectations, the reaction on Chinese social media has been largely positive.

“I honestly don’t care if the actor is the director’s son. But I expect a masterpiece from Ang Lee, as I think Chinese directors can best tell Bruce Lee’s story. Bruce Lee has been our pride,” commented a Weibo user.

“Some Western directors and media have misrepresented Bruce Lee. I am looking forward to this project, and hopefully, this biopic can restore Bruce Lee’s pride,” reads another Weibo comment.

Cover image via VCG

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