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Bruce Lee’s prowess stoked Chinese national pride
Posted on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 7:49 am
by IDMA Editor

PULLMAN - Forty years ago, long before China was a roaring economic and political dragon, many Chinese felt lingering humiliation from semi-colonial rule by western powers before World War II.

Those feelings began morphing into pride, thanks in part to a little known Chinese-American actor, says sport historian John Wong.

“Bruce Lee burst onto the scene with a low-budget film, 'The Big Boss' (video trailer above), which quickly set box office records in Hong Kong and in Asia and was especially popular for ethnic Chinese,” said Wong, an assistant professor in the College of Education. “In the movie, the protagonist used his martial arts to seek justice for overseas Chinese laboring under adverse conditions.”

Photos from the movie:

Photo credit to stardustuniverse

Wong will give a free presentation on “The Bruce Lee Story: Physical Prowess, Body and National Identity” at noon Thursday, Feb. 3, CUB 406, sponsored by the Asian American Pacific Islander Staff and Faculty Association.

Wong, a native of Hong Kong, is author of a professional paper about Lee and his impact. It was co-authored by former WSU faculty member Robert Rinehart.

Photo credit to

Lee was more than an iconic Chinese figure and martial artist, the authors contend. He was also a philosopher who spread his philosophy of martial arts and physical prowess in various writings, interviews and four films: "The Big Boss," "Fist of Fury," "Way of the Dragon," and "Enter the Dragon."

“Lee’s movies portrayed a new conception of the body and physical prowess that spread far beyond Asia,” said Wong. “Since the plot of all four movies had a Chinese as the main character and, for three of the four movies, foreigners as villains, these movies also revealed a renewed national pride based on the body and physicality.”

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