Brandon Lee

Infobox Chinese-language singer and actor
name = Brandon Lee

tradchinesename = 李國豪
simpchinesename = 李国豪
birthname = Brandon Bruce Lee
birthdate = birth date|1965|2|1
birthplace = Oakland, California, USA
deathdate = death date and age|1993|3|31|1965|2|1
deathplace = Wilmington, North Carolina
yearsactive = 1986 - 1993
parents = Bruce Lee (1940-1973)
Linda Lee Cadwell (1945-)
partner = Eliza Hutton 1990-1993

Brandon Bruce Lee (; Cantonese: "Léi Gwokhòu"; Pinyin: "Lǐ Guóháo"; February 1, 1965 – March 31, 1993) was an American actor. He was the son of the late legendary martial arts film star Bruce Lee and Linda Lee Cadwell and the brother of actress Shannon Lee.

Early life

Brandon Lee was born in Oakland, California, son of the legendary martial artist actor Bruce Lee. Only a week after his birth, his grandfather Lee Hoi-Chuen died. The family moved to Los Angeles, California when he was three months old. When offers for film roles became limited for his father the family moved back to Hong Kong in 1971; Bruce Lee made three films there between 1971 and 1973.

When Lee was eight, his father died suddenly from cerebral edema. After her husband's death, Linda Lee moved the family (including daughter Shannon Lee (b.1969)) back to the United States. They lived briefly in his mother's hometown of Seattle, Washington, and then in Los Angeles, where Lee grew up in the affluent area of Rolling Hills.

He attended high school at Chadwick School, but was asked to leave for insubordination, more specifically driving down the school's hill backwards, three months before graduating. He received his GED in 1983, and then went to Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts where he majored in theater. After one year, Lee moved to New York City where he took acting lessons at the famed Lee Strasberg Academy and was part of the American New Theatre group founded by his friend John Lee Hancock. The bulk of Lee's martial arts instruction came from his father's top student, Dan Inosanto.


Lee returned to Los Angeles in 1985, where he worked for Ruddy Morgan Productions as a script reader. He was asked to audition for a role by casting director Lyn Stalmaster and then made his acting debut in "", a feature-length television movie and a follow-up to the 1970s television series "Kung Fu". The film aired on ABC on February 1, 1986 which was also Lee's 21 birthday.

In "Kung Fu: The Movie", Lee played Chung Wang, the suspected son of Kwai Chang Caine (played by David Carradine). This seemed ironic at the time as Brandon's father Bruce Lee was originally intended to have played the leading role in the "Kung Fu" TV series as he had also come up with the original concept for the TV series, but in the end he was turned down for playing the lead in favor of Carradine.

Later that same year, Lee got his first major film role in the Hong Kong action thriller "Legacy of Rage" in which he starred alongside Michael Wong. This film also had a cameo by Bolo Yeung who also appeared in his father's last film, "Enter the Dragon." The film was made in Cantonese, and directed by Ronny Yu. It was the only film Lee made in Hong Kong.

In 1987, Lee starred in the unsuccessful television pilot "" which was another follow-up to the "Kung Fu" television series which aired on the "CBS Summer Playhouse".In this film the story moved to the present day, and centered on the story of Johnny Caine (played by Lee), who is the great-grandson of Kwai Chang Caine.

Lee then made a guest appearance in an episode of the short-lived American television series "Ohara" in 1988 playing a villainous character named Kenji, opposite Pat Morita who played the title role. In the summer of 1988, Lee also started filming his first English-language B-grade action film, "Laser Mission", which was filmed cheaply in South Africa, and was eventually released on the European market in 1990.

In 1991, he starred opposite Dolph Lundgren in the buddy cop action film "Showdown in Little Tokyo". This was marked as his first studio film and American film debut. Lee signed a multi-picture deal with 20th Century Fox in 1991. He had his first starring role in the action thriller "Rapid Fire" in 1992, and was scheduled to do two more films for them. In August of that year, Bruce Lee biographer John Little once asked Brandon Lee what his philosophy in life was, and he replied, "Eat—or die!"cite book | last = Little | first = John | title = The Warrior Within - The philosophies of Bruce Lee to better understand the world around you and achieve a rewarding life | publisher = Contemporary Books | date = 1996 | pages = 129 | isbn=0809231948] Brandon later spoke of the martial arts and self-knowledge:

cquote2|Well, I would say this: when you move down the road towards mastery of the martial arts—and you know, you are constantly moving down that road—you end up coming up against these barriers inside yourself that will attempt to stop you from continuing to pursue the mastery of the martial arts. And these barriers are such things as when you come up against your own limitations, when you come up against the limitations of your will, your ability, your natural ability, your courage, how you deal with success—and failure as well, for that matter. And as you overcome each one of these barriers, you end up learning something about yourself. And sometimes, the things you learn about yourself can, to the individual, seem to convey a certain spiritual sense along with them.

...It's funny, every time you come up against a true barrier to your progress, you are a child again. And it's a very interesting experience to be reduced, once again, to the level of knowing nothing about what you're doing. I think there's a lot of room for learning and growth when that happens—if you face it head on and don't choose to say, "Ah, screw that! I'm going to do something else!"

We reduce ourselves at a certain point in our lives to kind of solely pursuing things that we already know how to do. You know, because you don't want to have that experience of not knowing what you're doing and being an amateur again. And I think that's rather unfortunate. It's so much interesting and usually illuminating to put yourself in a situation where you don't know what's going to happen, than to do something again that you already know essentially what the outcome will be within three or four points either way.cite book | last = Little | first = John | title = The Warrior Within - The philosophies of Bruce Lee to better understand the world around you and achieve a rewarding life | publisher = Contemporary Books | date = 1996 | pages = 150 | isbn=0809231948]

In 1992, Lee landed the lead role of Eric Draven, in the movie adaptation of "The Crow", a popular underground comic book. About his character, an undead rock musician avenging his and his fiancée's murder, Lee said, "He has something he has to do and he is forced to put aside his own pain long enough to go do it". It would be Lee's last film. Filming began on February 1, 1993, which was his 28th birthday.

While it's wildly rumored the Wachowski Brothers initially planned for Brandon Lee to be the star of The Matrix Movies, there is no evidence to support this, and the script for The Matrix hadn't even been completed by the time of Lee's death.


On March 31, 1993, while making "The Crow", the crew filmed a scene in which Lee's character walked into his apartment and discovered his girlfriend being raped by thugs. Actor Michael Massee, who played one of the film's villains, was supposed to fire a gun at Lee as he walked into his apartment with groceries.

Because the movie's second unit team was running behind schedule, it was decided that dummy cartridges (cartridges that outwardly appear to be functional, but contain no gunpowder) would be made from real cartridges. A cartridge with only a primer and a bullet was fired in the pistol prior to the scene. It caused a squib load, in which the primer provided enough force to push the bullet out of the cartridge and into the barrel of the revolver, where it became stuck.

The malfunction went unnoticed by the crew, and the same gun was used again later to shoot the death scene, having been re-loaded with blanks. However, the squib load was still lodged in the barrel, and was propelled by the blank cartridge's explosion out of the barrel and into Lee's body. Although the bullet was traveling much more slowly than a normally fired bullet would be, the bullet's large size and the extremely short firing distance made it powerful enough to fatally wound Lee.

When the blank was fired, the bullet shot out and hit Lee in the abdomen and lodged in his spine. He fell down instantly and the director shouted "Cut!", but Lee did not respond. The cast and crew filming rushed to him and noticed he was wounded. He was immediately rushed to the hospital. Lee’s heart stopped once on the set and once in the ambulance. Following a six hour operation to remove the bullet and despite being given 60 pints (28 Liters) of blood, Lee was pronounced dead at 1:30pm on March 31, 1993.

His funeral was held several days later; he was buried next to his father in Lake View Cemetery, Seattle. The following day, a memorial service was held in Los Angeles.

The gravestone, designed by North Snohomish County sculptor Kirk McLean, is a tribute to Brandon and Eliza's young love. Its two twisting rectangles of charcoal granite join at the bottom and pull apart at the top. ``It represents Eliza and Brandon, the two of them, and how the tragedy of his death separated their mortal life together," said his mother, Linda Lee Cadwell, who described son, like father, as a poetic and romantic person. ["New Gravestone Marks Brandon Lee's Final Rest", By M.L. LYKE Seattle P-I Reporter - June 1, 1995]

The shooting was ruled an accident. The theory of the Lee "family curse" was also carried over from Bruce Lee's death to Brandon's, as he had died almost 20 years after his father and before the release of the film which could have been his breakthrough to stardom.


After Lee's death, his fiancée Eliza Hutton and his mother supported director Alex Proyas' decision to complete "The Crow". At the time of Lee's death, only eight days were left before completion of the movie. A majority of the film had already been completed with Lee and only a few scenes remained to be done.

To complete the film, stunt double Chad Stahelski, who was a friend of Lee's at the famed Inosanto Academy, was used as a stand-in; special effects were used to add Lee's face on to the stunt double. Another stunt double named Jeff Cadiente was also used to complete the movie. These scenes were filmed after Lee's death:
* Eric Draven's death in flashbacks.
* A scene with Eric walking into his apartment after returning from the dead was digitally composited from a scene of Lee walking into an alleyway with raindrops added (the rest of the scenes in the apartment were all done with the double);
* Lee's face was digitally imposed onto the stunt double when Eric puts on make-up in front of a mirror and walks towards the broken down window of his apartment;
* When Sarah (Rochelle Davis) visits Eric, his face is not seen as it is actually the stunt double.
* When Eric plays his guitar on the rooftop, it is one of Lee's body doubles.
* In the scene in which Eric Draven kills secondary villain T-Bird (David Patrick Kelly), he does not speak, nor is his face shown; the close-up of Draven's face was from a deleted shot.
* A scene in which Eric Draven is running on the rooftops from the police after a shootout was filmed with a double, as was his escape in a police car. "The Crow" was released in May 1994 and became a box office hit grossing over $50 million dollars at the U.S box office and gaining a loyal cult following many years after its release. The film is dedicated to Lee and Hutton. They were to have been married on April 17, 1993, in Mexico. Lee is survived by his mother and sister.

- In an interview just prior to his death, Lee quoted a passage from Paul Bowles' book "The Sheltering Sky" that he had chosen for his wedding invitations; it is now inscribed on his tombstone:

"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..."
The quotation is not attributed to Bowles in either Lee's final interview or on his tombstone, leading some fans to the mistaken impression that Lee composed the passage himself. The interview can be seen on VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray releases of the "The Crow".

Seven years after Lee's death, a direct-to-video Swedish film titled "Sex, Lögner and Videovåld" (Sex, Lies and Video Violence) was released in which Lee had a very brief cameo appearance. Lee had filmed his cameo appearance in 1992 at the time he was promoting "Rapid Fire" in Sweden, but the film was delayed for seven years finally releasing in 2000. It was dedicated to Lee during the end credits. At the time of his death, his father's biopic "" was ready for release. The film was released two months after Lee's death, with a dedication to his memory in the end credits. In the film, Lee was portrayed by child actor Iain M. Parker.

Personal life

In 1990, Lee met Eliza "Lisa" Hutton at director Renny Harlin's office, located at the headquarters of 20th Century Fox. Hutton was working as a personal assistant to Harlin, and later became a story editor for Stillwater Productions, in 1991. Lee and Hutton moved in together in early 1991 and became engaged in October 1992.

They were due to be married in Mexico on April 17, 1993, a week after Lee was to complete filming on "The Crow" - just 17 days after he died. At the time of Lee's death, Hutton was working as a casting assistant and was on set of "The Crow" so much that she was later credited with being Lee's on-set assistant. After his death, Hutton petitioned to have gun safety regulations tightened on film sets.


* "" (1986) .... Chung Wang
* "Legacy of Rage" ("Long zai jiang hu") (1986) ..... Brandon Ma
* "" (1987) .... Johnny Caine
* "Ohara" (TV Episode 1988) ..... Kenji
* "Laser Mission" (also known as "Soldier of Fortune") (1990) ..... Michael Gold
* "Showdown in Little Tokyo" (1991) .... Johnny Murata
* "Rapid Fire" (1992) ..... Jake Lo
* "The Crow" (1994) .... Eric Draven


* Pilato, Herbie J."". Boston: Charles A. Tuttle, 1993. ISBN 0-8048-1826-6
* Dyson, Cindy. "They Died Too Young: Brandon Lee". Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2001. ISBN 0-7910-5858-1
* Baiss, Bridget. "The Crow: The Story Behind The Film". London: Making of The Crow Inc, 2000. ISBN 1-8700-4854-7

External links


NAME= Lee, Brandon
DATE OF BIRTH= February 1, 1965
PLACE OF BIRTH= Oakland, California
DATE OF DEATH= March 31, 1993,
PLACE OF DEATH= Wilmington, North Carolina

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