Link: Copy link
Thanks LJF for the info and rare photo.This is a rare photo of teenage Bruce standing besides his Cha-Cha dance teacher, Terry (surname unknown). Look at Terry’s flowery shirt, a kind of Hawaiian casual shirt which many Filipinos liked to wear back then. Terry is a Filipino residing in the 50’s HK. He was originally Hawkins Cheung’s Cha-Cha instructor but Bruce secretly went to him and learnt from him after seeing Hawkin performing Cha-Cha better than him. Of course, later, Bruce mastered Cha-Cha and outshone Hawkins and the rest.
Photo of Bruce & Terry: https://postimg.org/image/g1fnezorv/
Bruce Lee – King of Cha-Cha
October 14 2015 at 8:12 AM
http://www.network54.com/Forum/256969/m ... of+Cha-Cha
Great article! Thanks for sharing.Bruce Lee Dances the Cha-Cha
By Aaron Timms Mar 29, 2016
It’s April 1959 and a small American Presidents Line steamship is making the slow journey across the Pacific, toward San Francisco. On the upper deck, a young man from Hong Kong, where the ship began its journey, is swinging his hips and stepping in time to music, while a group of well-heeled, mostly middle-aged passengers follow and try to imitate his movements. Buddy Holly has just died; in popular music, it’s the era of Ritchie Valens, Bobby Darin and Dean Martin, a brief Latin-inspired parenthesis sandwiched into the rise of rock ‘n roll. The passengers are here to learn the cha-cha, a crazy new dance from Cuba, the world’s youngest revolutionary socialist state. Their teacher is a good dancer — he’s won cha-cha competitions in his native Hong Kong, they say — and even though he’s traveling down in the lower decks of the ship, the first class passengers have caught wind of his special talent and invited him up to school them in the licentious charms of the cha-cha. The teacher is just 18 years old, and he has the slender hips and willowy limbs of a boy still growing into his frame; he’s a walking linguine. But there’s something else there, too. A charisma. A bravado. And the suggestion, perhaps, of some coiled violence. The teacher is lissom, but cobra-quick on his feet. His name is Bruce Lee.
Today, Bruce Lee is best known for the astonishing three-year, four-film burst — from 1971 to his death, at the age of 32, in 1973 — that cemented his status as the greatest martial artist who ever lived. But it’s often forgotten that he got his start as a dancer. Lee’s father sent him to the U.S. partly to keep him out of trouble: the young Bruce had a talent for fighting on the streets of Kowloon and had managed to piss off the local triads, a move demanding evasion, rather than engagement, in his father’s sage calculation. When Lee set sail for San Francisco in 1959, famously with just the $100 his father had handed him in his pocket, his initial idea was to make a living by giving dance lessons. To understand Bruce Lee — to grasp his contribution to Chinese cinema and martial arts, as well as what made his films so startlingly current — you need to understand this basic fact: he was a dancer before anything else. And he didn’t just specialize in any type of dance. He was a cha-cha dancer, exactly the style you would least expect a young man from the lower middle classes of mid-century Hong Kong to grow up to master.
Hong Kong has always worn its hybrid cultural stripes proudly; it manages, as the travel guide cliches have continued to remind us even in the near-two decades since the handover from British rule, to be both unmistakably Chinese and utterly western at the same time. But cha-cha, in 1959, was a recent invention; it had really only been around, even in Cuba, since the beginning of the decade. Lee’s embrace of this new dance showed he had both the enthusiasm of an early adopter and a fluency across different cultures that was, while unremarkable today, a minor achievement in the conservative, closed-off, unadventurous, xenophobic world of 1959. Undoubtedly it took bravery for the 18-year-old to leave Hong Kong alone to start a new life in America. But it took a special kind of cross-cultural confidence — a comfort among the confusion of the tongues — for this short, skinny Chinese boy to spruik himself as a master of Latin dance.
It’s been more than 40 years since Lee died, but this is the key to what makes him such an enduringly appealing figure today: he was, as Rimbaud might have wanted it, absolument moderne. And he wasn’t modern for the sake of his own glorification only: he was a lodestar for the modernization of Chinese culture more broadly after the century of humiliation. Almost a decade before China opened its economy to the world, Bruce Lee’s movies — schlocky and poppy, yes, but utterly unlike anything that had come before them — offered a way for Chinese culture to begin to make sense of itself and its place in a more interconnected world. This cultural opening up of China preceded and in some ways facilitated the economic opening, and Lee was at its very heart. Consumerism, private enterprise, the rise of the middle class: before any of these things happened in China and the world’s most populous national re-entered the international arena, Bruce Lee — son of Hong Kong, emblem of China — was not-so-quietly paving the way with a battery of sidekicks, 1-inch punches and nunchaku flicks. As the world continues to grapple with the question of how to integrate China into the global community — this is the country, remember, that was only admitted to the World Trade Organization in 2001 — Lee’s contribution to this opening up deserves a closer look.
The Big Boss, Lee’s breakout 1971 success, smashed Hong Kong box office records and set its young star on the path to cinema immortality. To modern eyes, the film appears comically raw: the camera work is jangly, and not deliberately so, and the acting is mostly artless and one-dimensional. Dubbing hasn’t helped: watch the movie on Netflix and you’ll experience this tale of racial prejudice and gnarly face jabs through a hilariously incongruous chorus of aw-shucks, Leave It To Beaver-style American accents. But there’s a scene midway through the film where Lee, playing the part of a Chinese peasant sent to Thailand to work at the ice factory in which his cousins have found employment, kicks the shit out of a bunch of bad guys then leads his cousins back to their house in a victory dance. What makes this scene remarkable is that they’re dancing the cha-cha: Cheng Chao An (Lee’s character) kicks off, and Hsu Chien, Chiao Mei, and all the other cousins follow behind in a celebratory conga line. This stretches plausibility to breaking point: Chinese migrant factory worker peasants in the early 1970s dancing the cha-cha? That just didn’t happen, surely. But Lee didn’t care — and that’s precisely the point. No one, at the time The Big Boss was released, had ever put modern dance — let alone a dance as foreign and racy as the cha-cha — into a Chinese martial arts film. For those watching in Hong Kong in 1971, this scene would have constituted a small cultural revelation.
When The Big Boss came out, most Chinese martial arts movies — produced primarily in Hong Kong, but performed in both Cantonese and Mandarin — were examples of the established wuxia genre. Wuxia films were set in Ancient China, usually in villages or rural areas, and addressed themes of chivalry and natural justice. The fight scenes invariably involved elaborate swordplay and incredible, unlikely feats of athleticism, the levitation, 30-foot leaps and three-storey backflips familiar to anyone who’s seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (the most famous contemporary example of the wuxiagenre). Modern kung fu cinema didn’t really get going until 1970, when The Chinese Boxer and Vengeance, by legendary Hong Kong director Chang Cheh, both came out. The former was remarkable because its fight scenes did away with swords and involved pure hand-to-hand combat; the latter stood out because, unlike any Chinese-language martial arts film to that point, Cheh set the action not in Ancient China but in the 1920s, the politically turbulent period between the end of the Qing dynasty and the rise of the Kuomintang, when China was ruled by warlords. Historical context gave Vengeance a mood and a sharpness that wuxia films, set at some indeterminate point in China’s distant past, lacked; martial arts cinema was, to that point, historically bland.
In The Big Boss, Lee and his co-creators, producer Raymond Chow and director Lo Wei, took these advances and turbocharged them. What they came up with would have seemed shockingly new to Chinese viewers at the time. Wuxia films were set in ancient times; Vengeance was a 1920s period piece. The Big Boss, by contrast, is set in the modern day — and in a foreign country, no less. Where previous martial arts films had minimal music or mawkish, unremarkable orchestra scores, The Big Boss led with a swinging brass band theme by German composer Peter Thomas. Where the fighting in wuxia films was overly stylized and unrealistic, Lee punched his way through The Big Bosswith the bare-knuckled venom of a trained street fighter. Where the only dancing you were ever likely to see in a conventional Chinese fight flick in 1971 was the mannered, mime-like sequencing of Beijing opera, in The Big Boss the characters danced the cha-cha.
Even Lee’s fighting gait was somehow unusual, or different, or new. He didn’t charge through fights in the slightly flat-footed, mechanical manner of other martial arts stars: he bounced on the balls of his feet, like a tennis player waiting to return serve. He brought the cha-cha to hand combat. He was rhythmic in a way no martial arts star had been rhythmic before, or has been since. Gordon Liu, Jackie Chan and Jet Li are the only martial artists who have come close to matching his legend, but none of them has the swivel-hipped charisma of Bruce Lee: Liu, star of the 1978 classic The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, was earnest in a way Lee never was; Chan played all his fights for laughs; and Li’s career has tracked the Chinese Communist Party’s appropriation of martial arts cinema for its own political messaging. Lee had something these fighters lacked: a kind of delicacy. In his footwork, there was the perfect combination of agility, speed, balance and power; he didn’t just win fights in The Big Boss, he danced his way to victory. This was a greater cultural achievement than Lee has ever been given credit for. Almost single-fistedly, and with a puckish iconoclasm, he brought a revered Chinese cultural idiom — the martial arts narrative — into the modern era.
Above all, though, it’s the subject matter of The Big Boss that sets it apart. There’s some irony, perhaps, in praising a superficially mindless action film for its plot, but through kung fu, Lee brought the lot of the migrant Chinese worker vividly to life. The Big Boss, whose central tension is between the Chinese factory workers and their murderous, corrupt, drug-running Thai overlords, portrayed Chinese people as they actually were in the world today, immersed in real issues like racial discrimination, labor exploitation, syndicated crime and the narcotics trade — not as they had been at some remote and romanticized point in the past.
His subsequent films built on this theme, and in increasingly interesting ways. Fist of Fury was set against the backdrop of the Japanese presence in early 20th century, foreign-controlled Shanghai, while Way of the Dragontook a quintessential migrant story and chronicled the struggles of a Chinese restaurant owner in Rome to protect his business from the aggressions of the local mafia (quick summary of solution: when everything else fails, call in Bruce Lee). As he explored this new terrain, so unfamiliar at that point to students and fans of Chinese martial arts cinema, Lee also began to introduce more variety into his own acting. The first five minutes of Way of the Dragonare a minor comic masterpiece. We see Tang Lung (Lee) landing at Rome airport and wandering around as he waits for his cousin to pick him up. Eventually he finds his way to a restaurant and, not understanding Italian, accidentally orders every soup off the menu. He dutifully, and increasingly painfully, stuffs all seven bowls of soup brought to him into his mouth, before running to the nearest bathroom and suffering the consequences out the other end. Lee plays the scene in a silent film style vaguely reminiscent of Buster Keaton. The whole thing, while funny, seems pointless at first, but it quickly establishes an important theme that runs through the film: there is a place for Chinese people in the wider world, however bewildering or inhospitable it might seem, and however much that place might have to be fought for.
This is more than a trivial point. China has always had a strong sense of its own centrality to world affairs: it is, after all, the middle kingdom, and it has existed as a continuous sovereign state for longer than any other place on earth. Chinese people, in this traditional sinocentric view, don’t journey to other places; people from other places come to China. Hong Kong is a special case, but Lee was more than a product of Hong Kong only; he was a representative of Chinese culture more broadly. Mainland China was arguably more sinocentric in the early 1970s than at any other point in its modern history. It was an almost totally closed society, shuttered off from the world by the Cultural Revolution, which by 1973, the year of Lee’s death, had reached its puritanical, repressive, murderous zenith. Wuxia and early kung fu films — whether consciously or not, it matters little — reinforced China’s monastically insular sense of itself as a world in one country. They showed Chinese people fighting each other, and foreigners, to the minimal extent a world beyond China was ever recognized, took only one form: the despised Japanese, who were invaders and aggressors within China itself.
Lee, in The Big Boss and Way of the Dragon especially, showed something different: Chinese people outside China. And given the runaway popularity of martial arts films in Hong Kong and throughout the mainland, there’s a very real sense in which Lee, by showing a world beyond China’s borders, brought the world — or a particular vision of it — to the people of China. He opened the very notion of Chinese-ness — what it means to be Chinese in the context of other nationalities — up. He gave it context; he gave it the world. No longer were Chinese people, in Lee’s cinematic vision, confined to China, as other Chinese movies of the era suggested. It was possible to be both Chinese and a fully curious citizen of the world, struggling with complexity, finding a place among other cultures, engaging with unfamiliar customs and memes: pasta! Language barriers! Strange soup!
Lee’s final and most famous movie, Enter the Dragon, distills these complexities even further. Where his previous films showed him traveling to some other part of the world, here we see him in his native habitat, competing as one among many fighters from all corners of the world at a Hong Kong martial arts tournament organized by a local business tycoon. The plot premise is straight from the sinocentric wuxia manual — the world comes to China — but Lee subverts this cliche of the genre with typical playfulness. The villain here is not foreign. He is Chinese, the corrupt Mr. Han, who runs a business empire covering multiple evils (drugs, prostitution, slavery) and fights Lee with the help of a prosthetic blade-hand in the famous mirror scene that closes the film. Critically, Lee only triumphs over Mr. Han and his henchmen with the help of the friendly foreign fighters competing in the tournament.
The subtext of this denouement builds on the thematic and cultural advances of The Big Boss and Way of the Dragon. Even as Lee was introducing China, on the screen, to the world, he was also cautioning about the corruption within, and signaling the virtues of cooperation with friendly members of the international community. Foreigners were not simply caricature villains to be despised and repelled without question; they could be helpful allies in fighting local bad guys and fostering a more virtuous system of government. This was a world away from the crude anti-Japanese, China-is-everything narratives the Chinese cinema-going public of the era would have been used to. Action films always reflect a certain view of the political order. Lee’s worldview was, on the evidence of the four films he produced in his short but incandescent career, overwhelmingly cosmopolitan, internationalist, and open to difference. Today, China struggles with political corruption and projects its power throughout Asia with an increasingly spiky mix of pride and entitlement (Exhibit A: the South China Sea dispute). Perhaps its leaders would benefit from re-watching Enter the Dragon.
The Cultural Revolution died with Mao Zedong in 1976. In 1978, Deng Xiaoping initiated the policy of gaige kaifang, or “economic reform and opening up,” and in 1979 China resumed diplomatic relations with the U.S., heralding an end to almost 30 years of international isolation. But thanks to Lee, the cultural opening up of China was by that point already well under way. Whether eating soup in Rome, fighting drug lords in Thailand or dancing the cha-cha, the Hong Kong master was radically, thrillingly ahead of his time.
Besides appearing in TVB-EYT hosted by Michael Hui, I remembered Bruce Lee appeared in RTV on Apr 10, 1970. But I've never seen any interviews of the hosts talking about Bruce. Are there any info on this? If I'm correct, there were 2 hosts, one should be called David Lo but not sure about the other guy's name.The following are excerpts from Michael Hui’s article in Netease (dated 10th Oct 2015) and Sam Hui’s article in Tecent News (dated 27th June 2016)
Michael Hui on Bruce Lee
Q1: You studied in La Salle College, the same school and same grade as Bruce Lee. So, have you ever met him in the campus?
MH: Of course, he always beat me up (laugh). Actually, we weren’t from the same grade as I was 2 years younger than him. Bruce was very good in dancing and I always saw him danced. He later won the HK Cha Cha Championship at the age of 18. I also participated in that same competition but only achieved 8th position. Bruce was really good in Cha Cha. Later, he incorporated the Cha Cha moves and footsteps into his Kung Fu, that’s why his Kung Fu looked so powerful and graceful. Just like many female action stars with Ballet’s background, they not only can dance very well but also are able to perform Kung Fu brilliantly. During the school days, I loved singing and dancing, Bruce loved fighting and most of the time he was learning how to fight and how to beat his opponents (laugh).
Q2: Can you show us some of his moves which you said Bruce incorporated into his Kung Fu?
MH: Sure, let me show you (Laugh) (Michael Hui mimicked some signature moves of Bruce with some exaggerating gestures and a cat yell which made the reporters chuckled).
Q3: When Bruce returned to HK in 1970 and first appeared in TVB’s “Enjoy Yourself Tonight” show, coincidentally, you were the host that interviewed him, so, what happened when you met Bruce again?
MH: Bruce was very popular by the time he returned to HK in 1970 because the HK audience was watching “The Kato Show” (The Green Hornet) and became very familiar with him. I was very happy to see him again after haven’t meet for so many years. Bruce was also flabbergasted and delighted to see me at the TVB station. We chatted quite a while. Bruce said he would return to HK to make action films if the time and opportunity are right. Bruce also knew many of the staff in TVB, like Yu Meng (his cousin’s husband), Leung Sing-Po, Cheung Ying (both his former Cantonese films’ colleagues) and Sam Sam (Robert Lee’s girlfriend then) etc. Bruce was very easy going and pleasant to get along with. I remembered that evening, he appeared in my show and demonstrated his two-fingers push up and one-inch punch that stunned the audience. Okinawa Goiuryu Karate Master Larry Lee Gam-Kwan and his 2 students also appeared along with Bruce. The show received overwhelming response and Bruce was mobbed wherever he went after his TV appearances. There’re some footage that show his appearances in this TVB’s EYT show and the RTV’s “Golden Harvest Hour” show, which I believed most of you have watched them by now.
Q4: Yes, we did. Do you have any idea where have all the footage of Bruce’s TVB appearances gone to? Do you believe they are destroyed as claimed by some U.S. and U.K. BL’s experts?
MH: Only God knows! How would I know?! (Laugh) “The Hui’s Brothers’ Show” (71-73) footage are well stored by TVB and have been re-mastered on DVD for sales. Tell me, do you really believe the rumor that all Bruce’s footage have been destroyed?! (Michael put on a cheeky smile)
Q5: After your quitted TVB in 1973, you moved on to make films for Shaw and then Golden Harvest. Why did you make such a switch in your career move? Have you ever thought that your comedy films would later break Bruce’s film box office records and topped the HK’s movie billboard chart from 1974-1981?
MH: Actually, I had made several movies before quitting TVB. My first movie was “The Warlord” which received both good response and box office record. It helped to open up the path to my movie career. People move on for a better future. There’s prospect to make movies then and so naturally, I went along with my heart. No, I just wanted to put all the HK local flavors into my comedies and make the HK audience had some great laugh. Never did I expect my films would become so popular that they smashed the box office records one after another for 7 straight years. Anyway, Bruce had already passed away when I broke his top grossing film’s record, so, there’s nothing to be proud of. You know, actually, my younger brother, Sam Hui was signed to GH to become a star but because Bruce came along and became so popular that GH had almost forgotten Sam (Laugh). Later, I told Sam to work with me in the film, “Game Gamblers Play” (a cinema version of “The Hui’s Brothers Show”) and it was a hit when it released. Subsequently, we continue to team up again in a few more comedies together with my third younger brother Ricky Hui. The HK audience just loved our trio’s performances. Bruce’s films brought immense actions excitement to the audience while my comedies let the audience relieved their pressure and stay happy. In the hearts of the HK audience, Bruce is forever a hero while the Hui’s brothers are always the grassroots or commoners whom they recognized with and felt a sense of closeness to. Although Bruce and I were different kinds of actors but we all have a common goal in making movie, i.e. Quality and creativity, which are the keys to movie’s success.
Sam Hui on Bruce Lee
Q1: How did you get to know Bruce?
SH: My elder brother Michael Hui was Bruce’s former schoolmate in La Salle College. They knew each other quite well when they were kids. When Bruce returned to HK to develop his movie career, they met again. Michael then introduced Bruce to me. Actually, I studied in St. Francis Xavier's College in the early 60s, the same school which Bruce last been to until ’59 he left for the U.S. So, we some sort have a common background and connection.
Q2: From the photos we saw you posing with Bruce, it seems that Bruce liked you a lot. How did your friendship grow after knowing each other?
SH: Maybe it was our straightforward and frank personalities that made us good friends. Our wives are Americans. We both spoke English and Cantonese. I was the same age as his younger brother, Robert Lee whom I knew in the 60s. Robert and his singing group, Thunderbirds used to perform in TVB and mine, The Lotus, shared the same stage as his. We all sang English songs then. Maybe because of all these, it drew my relationship with Bruce closer. I remembered during our initial meet-up, I gave some of my English song albums to Bruce as gifts. Bruce appreciated and after listening to the songs, he said he liked my voice and the songs I sang. He also wished he had a great vocal like me as he loved to sing but his vocal was “terrible” (laugh). Then, he showed me his Cha Cha dance which was really, really spectacular. I tried to learn some of his steps and moves but didn’t look as good as him. Of course, Bruce loved to show off his muscles and Kung Fu, which sort of aroused my interest and inspired me to learn martial arts. I later got my 3rd dan in Karate Black Belt and became the President of the Kowloon Karate Society until today. Anyway, when I was signed to GH, both Bruce and I became colleagues and our friendship further deepened as we would see each other quite often in the company.
Q3: Did Bruce teach you any special Kung Fu techniques?
SH: Bruce liked to talk about the philosophical part of Kung Fu and did teach me some simple yet effective techniques. My wife and I used to visit his house in Kowloon called the “Crane Nest.” There was a gym on the 2nd storey, which was full of training equipments and Bruce would show me how to use them. He also liked to show some of his newly learnt techniques to his close friends. I was fortunate enough to witness his Non-Telegraphic Shadowless Punch, Jing Mo Finger, Whirlwind 3 Kicks and Whip Leg Kung Fu. In fact, my brother, Michael and I’ve imitated Bruce many times in our comedy movies. There’s one movie scene which I kicked a cake off the table using the Whip leg (for movie, not real). This idea was copied directly from Bruce’s special skill. Another movie scene where Michael was forced to use large hot-dogs as nunchaku to fight against the bad guys. This was of course, a comical scene of imitating Bruce’s nunchaku fighting skill. Bruce was serious and in contrast, Michael and I were funny.
Q4: We saw a photo of you and Polly Shang Kwan with Bruce at his Game of Death’s shooting location. Can you tell us more about the story behind it?
SH: Both Polly and I were shooting “Back Alley Princess” just next to the studio where Bruce was filming his G.O.D. at the same time, probably in late September 1972. As we were good friends of Bruce, thus, we used to go over to the studio and chat with him during the breaks and vice-versa, Bruce also came over to our studio to watch us film sometimes. (Note: Initially, “Back Alley Princess” was called “Shanghai Street” (aka City Street Hero) which was written for Bruce but he had a fall out with director, Lo Wei and thus, turned down both “Cold Faced Tiger” and “Shanghai Street.” Bruce then went on to film WOTD and G.O.D.). It was fun to watch Bruce choreographing his fights in G.O.D. Polly was mischievous and liked to play prank in the studio. Hence, you can find a photo of her teasing behind Bruce when he was rehearsing the fight with Dan Inosanto (Laugh). Also, G.O.D. was originally called “Song of the Dark Night” and then changed to “Yellow Faced Tiger” before Bruce settled down with the title, G.O.D. He told me to write him a theme song for G.O.D. which I agreed but later, the film was unable to complete due to his untimely passing. Another popular HK singer, Roman Tam sang the ’78 G.O.D. theme song (Chinese version) written by James Wong and composed by Joseph Koo.
Q5: As the “God of Cantonese Pop” in HK, how do you perceive Bruce Lee, the “King of Kung Fu”? Also, why did you invite Shannon to be your guest-of-honor in your singing concerts both in Fo Shan and Shanghai respectively?
SH: Those titles you mentioned are just illusions as Bruce once said. I only look upon myself as an ordinary human being and treated Bruce as my good buddy. Yes, Shannon was my guest-of-honor for my 2010’s concert in Fo Shan as well as my 2014’s concert in Shanghai. Actually, my family and Bruce’s family are very close. I, my wife - Rebecca (Rebu) and my children (Ryan and Scott) maintain regular contact with Linda and Shannon after Bruce’s passing. Shannon was singing with her “Medicine” Group in the U.S. previously and she definitely has a great vocal and talent in that field. In my concert, I invited her to sing together with me 2 English songs and a Cantonese song which I taught her personally. It took Shannon about 5-6 months to prepare this Cantonese song since she doesn’t speak Cantonese at all. On stage, I imitated Bruce by wearing his long brown leather jacket, big sunglass and of course, a mop-hair’s wig. Then, I sang a song with Shannon. It was just as if her father, Bruce had travelled back to the earth 4 decades later and sang together with his daughter. There’s a big screen on the stage which displayed Bruce’s images while we sang. The audience was enchanted to see this touching scene and gave us several rounds of big applause after our song. I was glad to see that the audience appreciated our performance and to see us paying tribute to the legendary Bruce Lee, my dear friend forever.
Bruce & The Hui’s brothers’ photos: https://postimg.org/image/gg2kpb2qd/
Great read. Thanks LJF.Bruce Lee appeared in his second HKTV show in RTV on April 10th, 1970. The 2 RTV’s hosts of the talk show, “Golden Hours” were Gou Leung and David Lo. Both had passed on. Gou died in 2009 and David Lo just several months ago.
Gou Leung (1927-2009) was born in Canton and graduated from the Canton University. He made his Cantonese movie debut appearance for Shaw Bros in 1956. After making more than a dozen movies, he turned to Redifussion and became a DJ cum dubbing artist. Due to his eloquence and quick-witted mind, he was offered the TV host job in “Golden Hours” and paired up with James Wong Chiam (Bruce’s La Salle’s schoolmate) in 1967 before teaming up with David Lo in 1970. The talk show attracted quite a pool of TV viewers and it became the main rival of the TVB’s “Enjoy Yourself Tonight” show. Gou Leung was a low profile person. After quitting from the entertainment industry in the 1980s, he worked as a HR manager in an electronic factory. He lived alone in Un Chau Estate in Kowloon until his death on Oct 18th, 2009 due to heart attack. He was 82 then. Unfortunately, very little info of Gou Leung talking about Bruce Lee has been found so far.
David Lo (Feb 18th, 1945 – Mar 4th, 2016) was born in Shanghai and was the youngest child among the 6 siblings. Both his 2 elder brothers, Lo Yuen and Robert Siu Leung (aka Lo Wing Hwa) were famous entertainment celebrities, the former being the TV producer, the latter, a veteran actor. Together with David Lo, the trio were called the “Lo’s 3 brothers.” Graduated from HK Wah Yan College, David Lo first worked in HSBC bank before joining RTV in 1967. Due to his impressive performance, he was offered the host job for “Golden Hours,” a top rating TV talk show of RTV. The great chemistry of the duo, Gou Leung and David Lo, had always been the warranty of the show’s rating. David Lo later quitted RTV and joined TVB in 1975. He hosted TVB’s “Enjoy Yourself Tonight” show with Lydia Shum. His great comical mimicking of celebrities, and humorous performance had won himself the title, “male merrymaker” on contrary to Lydia’s “female merrymaker” title. David Lo left TVB in the mid 90s and set up his own production company. In 2013, he returned to TVB and filmed his last TV series, “The Lady’s Club.” On March 4th, 2016, David Lo passed away due to gastric cancer, at the age of 71. In one of his interviews on June 12, 2013 in Apple Daily, David Lo mentioned about Bruce Lee.
Below are excerpts from his interview:
Q1: We understand you speak quite good English which was the main reason why the TV producer sent you to interview Sophia Loren and Jane Seymour when they came to HK in the 1970s. When and how did you learn English?
DL: I learnt English ever since I was a kid and I used to watch many Hollywood movies and listened to many Western pop songs during my younger days. That might explain why my English is better than the other HK Chinese local hosts (Laugh). Even Bruce Lee was caught surprise when I spoke to him and little Brandon in English when they first came for my talk show in the early 1970.
Q2: Talking about Bruce Lee, could you tell us what was it like to meet this mega star?
DL: Frankly, he was very different from the HK local stars of that era. Bruce was very friendly, never put on air and his charisma shone when he walked into the room. Unlike local stars who would wear formally (jacket & tie) for the talk show, Bruce came with his casual wear and a pair of sandal. He was good at cracking jokes and creating cordial atmosphere. People would all be attracted by him once he stepped into the room. Bruce was accompanied by little Brandon who was about 5 years old then. I like kids and thus, tried to mingle around with him, talking to him in English. Bruce was surprised when I spoke fluent English with little Brandon. He then started to talk to me in English first before conversed in Cantonese. Maybe both of us are straightforward and like to have fun, hence, we hit off very soon. Before the actual show, Bruce came to RTV located at Broadcast Drive with Unicorn Chan. When we were preparing and discussing about the talk show, Bruce was astounded that I carried a pocket notebook with me as I would jot down jokes, daily incidents, working schedules in this notebook. Bruce then told me he had the same habit of writing down things whenever something came to his mind, whether it was martial arts skill, movie’s ideas or other things.
Q3: How was Bruce Lee being invited for the RTV’s “Golden Hours” show?
DL: The top executive of RTV, Cheung Ching, was a good friend of Bruce. They knew each other when they played Cantonese movies together in the 1950s. When the news of the “Kato Show” star – Bruce Lee came to HK was reported over the papers, both TVB and RTV tried to invite him to perform in their talk shows so as to increase their TV ratings. To the HK people, Bruce was like a local mega star that had gained his fame in the U.S. TV series. Cheung Ching welcome Bruce, little Brandon, Unicorn Chan, Bowie Woo Fung, Master Larry Lee Gam Kwan and his assistant when they came to our studio on the actual day. By the way, Bowie Woo is a long time friend of mine and Bruce. Bowie had played opposite Bruce in several of the 50s Cantonese movies. In addition, my host partner, Gou Leung also knew Bruce as they had met previously in the HK movie studio in the 1950s. He was like an elder brother to Bruce whom Bruce respected. Seems like we all know one another. So, things went pretty smooth when we discussed about the schedule and the content of the talk show.
Q4: What was your reaction when you first see Bruce performing his incredible feats, like the 1-inch punch, 2 fingers push up and snap kick?
DL: Indeed awesome! His inconceivable performance had really added sufficient colors to the B & W TV screen then. Everyone was in awe of his amazing feats. I was wondering whether Bruce was a super human being from the future or from the outer space (laugh). The studio’s audience and the TV viewers were swept away by these never-before-seen, mind-blowing stuffs. Bruce then tried to explain the concept of JKD and its difference with traditional Kung Fu and how the body power was generated from the hip to the waist and then to the fist. His philosophies and concepts on martial arts were never-before-heard back then. I think Bruce was really ahead of his time. I could see even Karate Master Larry Lee and his assistants were so respectful of Bruce and listened to his instructions obediently.
Q5: Did little Brandon performed with his father?
DL: Oh yes. His dad got him to perform kicking and he dropped his shoe in the mid way while kicking seriously hard (laugh). Then, I let him hit my palm which I could feel like a small hammer hitting on me. He could be regarded strong based on his young age. I remembered Bruce then got little Brandon to hit his washboard stomach. He punched Bruce’s stomach like hitting the big bag (laugh). Of course, it didn’t hurt. Bruce got us to touch his stomach and it was really like warm iron boards. As the show ended, everyone in the studio surrounded Bruce and tried to talk to him and asked him questions. He was obliged to answer to as many questions as possible.
Q6: There were minutes of blur clips of Bruce’s Enjoy Yourself Tonight and Golden Hours shows which appeared on Youtube. Are these taken from the hidden camera which you are aware of?
DL: Not sure. But I did see Unicorn Chan holding an 8mm camera with him before the show started. Maybe there were others in the audience who also had secretly shot the footage. I was focusing on my interview and was not aware of any happenings in the dark crowd except for their laughter and applause.
Q7: Did you meet Bruce after that TV interview? What were some of the words Bruce said which left a deep impression on you?
DL: Bruce was like a typhoon. His arrival and departure from HK caused a huge stir in the island. RTV and TVB even sent their news crews to follow Bruce. The day he left for the airport, caused a traffic congestion because people on the road saw the mega star whom was closely tailed by the TV news crew, also tried to get a glimpse of Bruce. Though Bruce didn’t strike a movie deal with the Shaw Bros in HK but he returned to the U.S. with a sense of pride after his impressive performances in TVB and RTV shows.
I did meet Bruce again several times when he was in HK making movie blockbusters like TBB, FOF, WOTD etc. Though my childhood ambition was to become the leading actor in the movie but my comedian look went against it. So, I turned to become a comedian in the TV industry instead. Bruce, who was good in his martial arts, likewise, turned to make action films. That’s why we both achieved our goals in our own rights. Like Bruce once said, “Do things you’re capable of, concentrate and do it with persistency, you’ll definitely succeed one day!”
Photos of David Lo & Bruce Lee: https://postimg.org/image/goqtjdpvx/