Brandon Lee – Son of the Dragon

Brandon Lee was famous from the minute he was born on February 1, 1965, in Oakland, California. There was no way he was going to escape the large shadow of his father. After all, his was father was THE Bruce Lee, THE legendary martial artist, THE founder of Jeet Kune Do. Star of action films such as Enter the Dragon, Return of the Dragon, The Chinese Connection, Game of Death, and not to mention the popular tv show The Green Hornet.

There was no denying the shadow of his father, so Brandon didn’t try to fight it. Though he would use his well-known last name and his martial art skills to enter the world of Hollywood film making, he was determined to leave his own mark as an actor. He once said, “My father was a martial artist first and an actor second.” Brandon was determined to show that he was an actor first.

The Breaks…

His first two projects were low budget action movies. Legacy of Rage and Laser Mission didn’t bring him instant box office success, but they would lead to his first big break. In 1991, he co-starred with Dolph Lundgren in Showdown In Little Tokyo. Playing a cop determined to take down the Yakuza (Japanese crime syndicate), not only did Brandon get to show off his fighting skills, he also got to show his humorous side. He provided many moments of comic relief as well as many funny one-liners.

The next big break came in 1992 when he stared in the film Rapid Fire. This time, it was just him on the movie poster. This time, his name was first in the billing. While still a martial arts action movie, it was successful enough to finally give Brandon the opportunity he’d been waiting for. He had been looking for the right role to challenge himself as an actor and allow him to showcase his acting ability. In 1992, he was chosen to play Eric Draven, the protagonist from the comic book, The Crow. The story of a dead rock musician, who is revived and brought back to avenge not only his death, but also that of his fiancé, was being brought to the big screen. Unfortunately, Brandon never had the chance to see the success achieved by film.

Like Father, Like Son…

On March 31, 1993, Brandon died during the filming of The Crow. He died from a gunshot wound that came from a prop gun that inadvertently had become a real gun when it was not handled properly. The death was ruled accidental. Ironically enough, they were filming the Eric Draven death scene when the accident occurred. Brandon was rushed to the hospital, was in surgery for six hours, but the doctors were unable to save him.

Brandon Lee was an actor. He had presence and charm and it came across on the big screen. Friends and family say that is how Brandon was in real life. While he did achieve the goal of leaving his own mark in the world, his life and death will always be linked to that of his father. They both died young (Bruce – 32, Brandon – 28), they both had five films under their belt, and they both passed away right before the release of their biggest hit. In perhaps the cruelest example of life imitating art, the way Brandon died in real life was eerily too close to a scene from one of Bruce’s movies (Game of Death).

[Gravesite photo credit: Erick Sosa]

In Honor Of…

I leave you with the following videos featuring two of my favorites moments from Brandon’s films. I also leave you with this quote from the man himself:

“Because we do not know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. And yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you cannot conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”

One of Brandon’s best fight scenes from the movie Rapid Fire

Brandon doing what he wanted to do most, act. From the film The Crow

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