Bruce Lee never fails to fascinate. Even 40 years after his death, you can’t type B-R-U-C into Google’s search bar without autofill assuming you’re looking for information about the world’s first (and some insist greatest) Martial Arts movie star. And now, the mysterious clouds surrounding his most-talked about fight may soon be parted. Or get more cloudy.
Two companies are developing a movie about Bruce Lee’s shadowy and legendary fight with Wong Jack Man, a master of Northern Style Shaolin Kung Fu and Tai Chi Chu’an. It’s the pivotal moment of Lee’s life, his last fight that capped his career as a local Martial Arts teacher and led him back into his childhood profession of Acting.
It happened in Oakland, California in the mid-1960s and fewer than a dozen people actually witnessed it. Lee claimed Asian Martial Arts masters from Oakland’s Chinatown demanded he stop teaching Caucasians. Lee claimed that if he lost, he’d have to pack it in. But if he won, he’d be able to teach anyone he wanted. Wong Jack Man denies knowing about any such ultimatum and did not discriminate.
The fight lasted 3 minutes and Lee won by Lee’s own account, which was supported by his wife Linda Lee Cadwell. Others say the brawl was an unusually long 25 minutes. Wong Jack Man issued a challenged for a rematch in Oakland’s Chinese-language newspaper.
The producers of the new movie say they will likely take some liberties with history in coming up with a back story, based on their belief that Wong Jack Man was not necessarily a villain. Jack Man himself has rarely spoken of the fight.