Star For Long Anticipated Bruce Lee Biopic Has Been Chosen

By Matthew Creith | Published

bruce lee

After the tragic death of martial arts icon and actor Bruce Lee in 1973, there have been many projects in development over the years that have attempted to chronicle Lee’s life story and overall biography. Dying at the age of 32, Lee’s impact on cinema touched many in the martial arts world, and he is considered a pivotal figure in Hong Kong action movies of the 1970s. Now, Deadline reports that Ang Lee will helm a biopic of Bruce Lee’s life, and the Brokeback Mountain director has cast his son Mason Lee to play the martial arts hero.

Mason Lee

Ang Lee will direct Bruce Lee for Sony’s 3000 Pictures, with the director’s son Mason Lee in the lead role of Bruce Lee. So far, Capote and Foxcatcher scribe Dan Futterman has been working on a screenplay for the movie, as no other actors have been cast in the film to date. Mason Lee is notable for playing the part of Teddy in The Hangover Part II alongside Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis, as well as bit roles on Fresh Off the Boat and in the 2016 film Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

Prior to his upcoming work on Bruce Lee, Ang Lee found fame for another martial arts film that became a worldwide phenomenon upon its release in 2000: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The movie went on to gross over $213 million at the box office against a budget of $17 million and became the highest-grossing foreign-language film in United States domestic box office history. After the success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ang Lee then directed Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi, both films he won the Academy Award for Best Director for, becoming the first non-white director to win in that category.

However, Mason Lee might have his work cut out for him in playing a martial arts icon like Bruce Lee, whose biography is full of drama and whose legacy is still felt by fans who believe he had a major impact on movies like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Bruce Lee learned multiple forms of martial arts in his early years, including judo, karate, boxing, and mixed martial arts. He found fame as an actor by costarring as the sidekick Kato in the 1960s action television series The Green Hornet, but dreamed of more important roles in films and television shows where he could be the lead character.

Bruce Lee had his chance to be cast as the Chinese monk Caine in Kung Fu, but was passed over in favor of white actor David Carradine for the role in 1972. This directly led to Lee leaving the United States to pursue films in Hong Kong’s burgeoning film industry, which ended up being the best decision for the actor’s career, as he starred in a number of popular films of that era. Just before Enter the Dragon was released in the United States in 1973, Bruce Lee passed away suddenly at the age of 32 in what was later described as an allergic reaction to meprobamate, a tranquilizer and officially listed as “death by misadventure”.