Was the Martial Arts Superstar Murdered?

Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco on November 27th, 1940, but was raised in Hong Kong, where he embarked on a movie career at the age of six. Around his early teens, Bruce started to develop an interest in the martial arts. To harden his fists, he would pound them on a stool everyday for hours, gradually transforming his hands into ataraxic weapons.
  He returned to the United States when he was 18 (to retain his American citizenship) and enrolled as a philosophy graduate at Washington University. Throughout his studies, Lee taught jeet-kune do' (a hybrid discipline of kung fu and western pugilism) to provide him with an income of a few hundred dollars per week. One of his students, Linda Emery, was fascinated by her tutor, and she married him in 1964. Lee decided to quit his studies to rekindle his acting career in Hollywood. He landed a role as Kato in "The Green Hornet" television series, and also gave martial arts lessons to some of the biggest movie stars in Los Angeles. For 150 dollars an hour Lee taught some of his skills to James Coburn, Lee Marvin, James Garner and Steve McQueen.

Around this time, Warner Brothers were ready to produce  
"Kung Fu", a groundbreaking television series about Kwai Chang Caine, a Buddhist monk trained in karate who flees mainland China for the West after murdering a nobleman. Lee applied for the part of Caine, but Warner thought he was too inexperienced to play the role, which went to actor-dancer David Carradine instead. "Kung Fu" proved to be a success story in the US and Europe, and is now regarded as a TV cult classic.  Lee had been denied stardom in the land of oppurtunity, so he returned to Hong Kong, where he struck up a partnership with Raymond Chow, an innovative

Bruce Lee
 film producer.

The two men literally became the new wave of the Hong Kong film industry, and collaborated on some of the early kung fu blockbusters.
  In 1971 Lee starred in his first Chinese action film "The Big Boss". He played the part of a new boy in an ice factory who helps striking workers with his breathtaking martial arts talent. The original cut was deemed to be too violent, and the censors held the film release date back for a year, then there was more trouble getting it distributed, but Lee continued to strive for international superstardom. He wrote, produced and directed "The Way of the Dragon" (1973), and cast himself as Tan Lung, an out-of-town strongarm who is paid by a Chinese restaurant owner in Rome to sort out the local Mafia menace.
  Warner Brothers learned that the films were being received well, and were soon beating a path to Lee's door. The film company offered major finacial support for Lee's next film, "Enter the Dragon" (1973). The film proved to be the success that had eluded Lee for so long, but tragically, the rising film star never got to enjoy the benefits of his achievement.           While dubbing the film in Hong Kong on May 10th, 1973, Bruce Lee collapsed. He later recovered and experienced respiratory problems. He tried to breathe, but found it exhausting. He underwent a series of convulsions which were put down to a swelling of his brain. Lee was given Mannitol, an osmotic diuretic drug, which seemed to do the trick. A week later, Lee appeared as fit as ever. At Los Angeles, Dr David Reisbord examined Lee. After a brain scan, a brain-flow study, a physical checkup, and an EEG analysis, Dr Reisbord told Lee that he had probably suffered a grand mal seizure - an indication of epilepsy - yet there were no indications why this was so. The brain scan showed no abnormalities, and the other tests had confirmed that Lee was in perfect physical condition, so the sudden collapse and brain swelling were very unusual.
  But Lee began to lose weight, much to the consternation of his friends, who urged him to see his doctor again. But Lee seemed too wrapped up in his work. This was the break he had dreamed of for so long. Two months after his check-up, Lee was working on a script in the Hong Kong apartment of Betty Ting-pei, his co-star, when he suddenly complained of a bad headache. The actress offered Lee an Equagesic painkiller - a two-layer tablet containg  aspirin, calcium carbonate, and ethoheptazine citrate. The drug had been prescribed for Ting-pei by her doctor. Lee took the tablet and said he was going for a nap in the actress's bed. He never woke up again. At 9.30 p.m., Raymond Chow arrived at the apartment to pick the film star up for a dinner engagement. When he found he could not wake Lee, he called for a doctor, who tried to revive the actor, but his effort was in vain. At Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Bruce Lee was pronounced dead. The world was rocked by the news.
  The circumstances surrounding Lee's death were interpreted as suspicious by many. Lee had not been taken to the nearest hospital when he was found unconscious, and traces of cannabis were found in the dead man. Many wondered how  someone regarded as 'the fittest man in the world' could just die without any apparent cause.
  A coroner's inquest was convened on September 3rd, and the findings were: Firstly, the amount of cannabis found in Lee's body was too small to have  contributed to the actor's death. Secondly, Lee had 'probably' died because of a hypersensitivity to a compound in the painkiller he took  possibly the aspirin component.
  The official verdict was 'death by misadventure'. Case closed.
  But several unsavoury facts were bandied about by the media regarding Lee's behaviour on the eve of his death. It was learned that Lee had publicly attacked Lo Wei - the man who directed "The Big Boss" and other kung fu genre films - on the very day before he died from taking the aspirin. But the incident was quickly put down to being the climax of a long-standing feud between the two men. There were rumours of the Chinese Mafia and the Triads having a hand in the actors demise, and there were exotic theories gleaned from the tales of people who had been close to the star. It came to light that during the last months  of the actor's life, certain mysterious, nameless individuals approached Lee and told him he was surrounded by 'bad omens'. Some believed these 'men in black' to be members of an obscure eastern sect who had come to America to warn Lee about flaunting the   closely-guarded secrets of the ancient fighting arts. These alleged visitors were said to have killed Lee with the 'death-touch' or "dim mak" as it is known in the Far East. According to legend, the person who is trained in dim mak can dispose of his enemy by applying the briefest of pressures on the non-critical points of the victim's body. The victim does not die immediately, but succumbs after a length of time has passed. The delay period is governed by the particular nerve-points that are chosen and the amount of pressure applied to each point respectively. It is easy to scoff at such a concept of killing by touch, but there are historical records that state that the art of "dim mak" was in use during the T'ang Dynasty (AD 618-906), and even today in Taiwan, the deadly art is still alleged to be employed for 'perfect murders'.
  The reports of Lee losing weight shortly before he died have led some students of the Eastern arts to conclude that the actor was killed by a lethal technique known as "duann mie", which, without going into too much esoterical detail - is a way of killing an enemy by directing a blow against a specific vein, which leads to a wasting away of the victim through the ensuing disruption of specific blood vessels. Oddly enough, when Bruce Lee's body was examined by a pathologist, the blood vessels in the lungs were found to be unaccountably  broken in a way described by the medical expert as 'strange'.

ISBN: 0-75252-407-0  (PARRAGON)

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