Chinese state television CCTV is producing a 50-part series on Bruce lEe - Bruce Lee News
BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Martial arts star Bruce Lee's legend will live on 34 years after his death, and this time it won't be in a movie theatre but on TV.
Chinese state television CCTV is producing a 50-part series, at a cost of $6.5 million, on Lee's life with the main aim of making sure the man who is a Chinese national hero looks good.
Over 1,000 actors were cast for the starring role and Hong Kong's Chen Guokunm, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lee, was the chosen for what he said is a very challenging part.
"This role is really complicated because it relates to many different fields," Chen told Reuters. "People from all around the world adore him. So many people are familiar with his movies and doing research on him."
CCTV is hoping to sell the series globally.
For the past 8 weeks, crews have been shooting in Foshan city, Guangdong Province. The city, which is near Hong Kong, is the hometown of Lee's father and grandfather. Bruce Lee lived there briefly at the age of five.
To many Chinese, Lee is more than just a kung fu master. His success in the United States and Hollywood has inspired many Chinese and turned him into a local legend.
Senior director Li Wenqi is a Lee admirer who wants as many people as possible to appreciate his way of life.
"How do we really become the very best in something? How do we kick certain doors open for ourselves? This is something we need to learn from Bruce Lee. Chinese are forbearing. But there should be some heroism. If we had people like Bruce Lee in other professions, then we would really rock," he said.
The series also has another mission -- to promote Chinese culture ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Ma Zhongxuan, a kung fu master himself who is involved in the production, said martial arts were a good showcase for China.
"This is a perfect window. Chinese kung fu is closely related to Chinese culture. Kung fu introduced Chinese culture and history to the rest of the world. It is an important means to open the door and communicate," Ma said.
The series' directors will take the crew around the world, following in Lee's footsteps. They will shoot in six cities in mainland China as well as in over 10 cities worldwide, including Los Angeles and Rome.
Eight actors from America, Russia and Thailand are also involved in the production, for which they have had to take crash courses in Chinese.
Lee was born in San Francisco and gained fame acting in more than 40 martial arts movies. He died in July 1973 in Hong Kong at the age of 32, suffering from fatal swelling of the brain. He starred in more than 25 films and at least four documentaries have been produced about his life.