Bruce Lee - A Shinning Child Star

LJF
Joined: December 6th, 2014, 3:05 am

January 1st, 2016, 7:48 am #1

Here is a wallpaper of BL as a shinning child star with his complete 25 childhood movies:

http://postimg.org/image/zbt1o7pft/
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LJF
Joined: December 6th, 2014, 3:05 am

January 1st, 2016, 8:01 am #2

Bruce Lee was a famous child actor in the 50s HK. According to HK Film Archive and HKMDB, Bruce had been involved in the making of 25 Cantonese movies between 1941-1958 before his departure to the U.S. in early 1959.

Bruce's father, Lee Hoi-Chuen was an infamous Cantonese opera star. Because of this, Bruce was introduced into the film industry at a very young age. By the time Bruce was 18, he had appeared in over twenty films.

1940-1941 – Dragon’s Beginning
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Bruce was born in San Francisco on 27th Nov 1940. In February 1941, when Bruce was only three months old, he appeared in the "Golden Gate Girl” which was one of the first HK Cantonese movies to be shot in San Francisco. It was directed by Esther Eng and eminent filmmaker Kwan Man-Ching, a friend of Lee Hoi Chuen. Bruce played the infant character of Wong Lai-Lu. Lee Hoi-Chuen also appeared in this movie. The movie credited Bruce’s name as “Little Lee Hoi-Chuen.” This film was released in San Francisco but was not shown in Asia until 1946, after the Second World War. The film is notable as it marked the film debut of Bruce Lee, just an infant at the time. Shortly after appearing cameo for this movie, Bruce and his family returned to HK by ship in April 1941.

1942-1945 – The War Period
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Unfortunately, Second World War broke up and HK was occupied by Japan between late 1941 until 1945. Liked other Hong Kong people, Bruce and his family lived an unpleasant life under the Japanese occupation. During the war period, there was none or very few movies being produced in HK. After the war ended in 1945, HK film industry began to revive. During the wartime and internal warfare, in fact, many mainland China’s directors and film stars had fled to HK from Shanghai due to the unstable political situation over there. The arrival of these professional directors and film stars brought about the prosperity and revival of the HK film industry later on.

1946-1949 – Dragon on screen
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Besides playing in stage opera, Lee Hoi-Chuen also played in many HK movies in order to make a living. He sometimes would bring his children to the film studios to watch him worked. It was during this time, young Bruce came in touch with the movie and developed a strong passion for it. One day, while visiting his father, Lee Hoi-Chuen, on the set of his latest film, the director spotted Bruce and immediately sensed something unique about him. He was certain beyond a doubt that audiences would fall in love with Bruce and even went so far as to offer him a role in his father's film. So, in 1948, Bruce adopted "Lee Sin" as his stage name and guest starred in "Wealth Is Like a Dream” directed by Yue Leung and the film poster advertised Bruce as "New Lee Hoi-Chuen." The following year, he used "Little Lee Hoi-Chuen " and "New Lee Hoi-Chuen” to guest starred in " Sai See In The Dream"(1949) and "Story of Fan Lihua"(1949) respectively. One mysterious film that was not credited to Bruce’s childhood filmography was “Rich And Abundant” (1948). It was directed by Leung Sam and Lee Hang, and starring Sun-Ma Sze-Tsang, Pak Yin, Cheung Wood-Yau and Lee Hoi Chuen. Bruce had a cameo appearance in this film and he used the stage name “New Lee Hoi Chuen.” According to Robert Lee, among the siblings who used to appear in their childhood movies, Bruce had the most potential and passion in acting, which was why he once considered acting to be his career while he was growing up.

1950-1951 – A Star is born
======================
In the opera-comedy "Blooms and Butterflies"(1950), Bruce adopted "Lee Min" as his stage name but “New Lee Hoi-Chuen” appeared on the poster advertisement. It also specifically labeled Bruce as "Child Wonder - Little Lee Hoi Chuan as guest star." This shows how outstanding his performance was. Bruce appeared as an orphan again in “Bird on the Wing”(1950), a production of Dalianhe movie company. Pak Yin and Cheung Wood-Yau were the main leads in this movie. It was seldom mentioned as Bruce only had a cameo appearance and his name was credited as “Lee Min” and “New Lee Hoi-Chuen” which was the reason why it did not capture the fans’ attention.

The film debut where Bruce played an important lead role was "Kid Cheung"(1950). Bruce played the character of an orphan who went astray and then turned over a new leaf in the end of the story. "Kid Cheung" is based on a comic book character written by Yuen Po-Wan, who also has a role in the film. Co-starring Bruce's father, Lee Hoi-Chuen. This is the third film in which the father and son worked together, the other being “Wealth Is Like A Dream”(1948) aka “The Birth of Mankind”. Bruce received good critics for his performance, and soon established his child star status in HK. He was credited as "Lee Loong" in this movie. One interesting to note was, Yuen Po-Wan, the author of the comic book – “Kid Cheung,” gave the stage name - “Lee Siu-Loong” to Bruce as one day, he overheard someone shouting a commercial slang, “Dai Loong Sang Siu Loong” (literally means “Big dragon bears little dragon!”). This gave him an inspiration and he thought if Lee Hoi-Chuen was Dai Loong (big dragon) then Bruce Lee would be “Siu Loong” (little dragon). Therefore, he told Lee Hoi-chuen about his idea which quite pleased him. Since Bruce was born in the year of the dragon and in the hour of the dragon, dragon is also an auspicious symbol of the Chinese, thus, the Lee family was delighted that Bruce adopted this great stage name. But his family members still called Bruce his nickname, “Sai Fung” (“little phoenix”) at home.

However, Bruce only started to use “Lee Siu Loong” after “Kid Cheung.” The following year, Bruce starred in the "Infancy"(1951) and was again received overwhelming response. In this movie, he played a bad boy who gone astray but turned good at the end, quite similar to Kid Cheung’s main theme. HK famous film critic - Heung Chen from the HK "Wenweipo" newspaper, said Bruce was worthy to be called “A Child Genius in Cantonese films” and the Cantonese movies filmmakers should pay more attention to him because of his superb acting.

1952-1955 – A Star is born
======================
According to the HK Film Archive Record, Bruce did not make any movie in 1952, most likely his parents wanted him to spend more time in his study. Bruce mother, Grace, once recalled it was difficult to wake Bruce up every morning when it was time for him to go to school but during his school vacation when he heard someone calling him to go for shooting in the early morning, Bruce would jump down from his bed and got ready to go to the studio anxiously. Robert Lee said his parents were quite open-minded and as long as their children managed their time well, they would not oppose them from filming during their vacation. So, between 1953 to 1955, Bruce who had turned from a little boy to a handsome teenager, appeared in various films, such as "The Guiding Light"(1953), "A Mother Tears"(1953), "Blame it on Father"(1953 ), "A Myriad Homes"(1953), "In the Face of Demolition"(1953), "Love (Part 1)”, “Love (Part 2)"(both 1954), "An Orphan's Tragedy"(1955), "The Faithful Wife"(1955), "Orphan's Song" (aka" Poor Fated Girl ", 1955). Most of the characters belonged to a "well-behaved Aberdeen." Then, Bruce appeared as a rebellious teenager in "We Owe It to Our Children"(1955), and a comical character in "The Wise Guys Who Fool Around "(1955).

1956-1959 – Shinning Star
======================
In 1956, Bruce only had one movie in his credit, i.e. "Too Late For Divorce"(1956). He again played a rebellious teenager who taught his tuition teacher, Yam Kin-Fai to dance cha-cha. Then in 1957, Bruce Lee starred in his only" melodrama film" - "The Thunderstorm"(1957). This was adapted from Chao Yu’s famous novel of the same title. Bruce played the second son of a rich man who had an extra-marital affair with his female servant. Bruce and his elder brother later fell in love with the daughter of the servant (whom was his father’s illegitimate child). It was an incest story and the bad karma strikes the family with unpleasant ending. It was also the first time Bruce wore Chinese tunic suit and had romance scenes in the film. In the same year, Bruce appeared in the comedy "Darling Girl”(1957). His short yet amazing cameo cha-cha dancing scene with the female lead actress - Man Lan, had attracted the attention and interests of the audiences.

In late 1958, Bruce started shooting "The Orphan" which was completed in early 1959. It was the last childhood film of Bruce before he went abroad to the United States to study. Bruce played an orphan "Ah Sum" who survived in the war. The orphanage dean was played by Ng Chor-Fan whom was also the film producer and screenwriter. The film was released on 3rd March 1960 but Bruce had already gone abroad to the U.S. There were many scenes between the experienced‘Emperor of Hwa Nan Silver Screen' - Ng Chor-Fan and young Bruce. Their performances were extremely terrific and exciting, even famous movie critics - Shih Chi had dubbed this film as "undoubtedly Bruce Lee's masterpiece and his character in this film was indeed vivid and powerful.”
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LJF
Joined: December 6th, 2014, 3:05 am

January 1st, 2016, 8:11 am #3

Before Bruce Lee became a world renowned martial arts and movie action superstar in the early 70s, he was once a famous child actor in the 50s HK. Many people have been in awe by his martial arts prowess but most have overlooked his acting skills. In fact, he often received good critics for his performances in his childhood Cantonese movies. Below are some compilations of his child acting critics from the early 50s-60s magazines and newspapers.

1. 31st May 1950, Overseas Chinese Daily: “Kid Cheung” (aka, The Kid; The Adventures of Young Shiong; My Son A-Chang).

“The Epochal Factual Social Children Education Story; there is San Mao in the north and Kid Cheung in the south, both are suffering children, begging for sympathy and helps. The blockbuster of the year with the most exciting performance from Lee Loong (BL), the child who plays Sai Lo Cheung (Kid Cheung)!”


2. 31st May 1950, Datong Movie News: “Kid Cheung”

“A child prodigy – Lee Loong (BL) portrays Kid Cheung, adapted from a comic character as published in the comic columns of HK Commercial Press & Overseas China Daily News. He has a dazzling performance in his first lead role. The movie reveals the inside story of the lowest class society and the real life of the children on the street…”


3. April 1951, HK Movie Novel: “Infancy”

“Watch out for the three cute darlings of Hwa Nan’s Movie Stage! ….Lee Siu Loong (BL) - We have watched his terrific acting in “Kid Cheung” right? Now, in “Infancy” he played the most crucial role --- a victim who at home and at school, is being sacrificed under the unjustifiable society’s education system! Yet another stunning performance from the young actor.”


4. April 1951, HK "Wenweipo" newspaper: “Infancy”

"HK famous film critic - Heung Chen said, “Bruce was worthy to be called ‘A Child Genius in Cantonese films’ and the Cantonese movies filmmakers should pay more attention to him because of his superb acting.”

5. 30 April 1953, United Pictures’ News: “The Guiding Light”

“United Pictures talented child actor – Law Hin-Tat and Lee Siu Loong (BL) had wonderful performance in this melodrama movie. This film carries education value and is thus, strongly recommended by the media, education and cultural sectors.”


6. 27 Nov 1953, Nanyang Commercial Press: “A Myriad Homes”

“United Pictures recently released its third production - “A Myriad Homes” after “Home” and “The Guiding Light.” The shooting is incredibly beautiful and the content is wholesomely healthy. It is distributed by International Movie Distribution Company and is the first Cantonese movie that is strongly recommended by Odeon Theatre. Thus, it sure has its value of worthy. This film is directed by Ng Chor-Fan and the cast includes Tsi Law-Lin , Yung Siu-Yi, Lee Ching, Wong Man-Lei , Yung Yuk-Yi , Fung Ying-Seung, Lee Siu Loong (BL) and Yan Yan etc. Many big stars with good acting, a film you won’t want to miss.”


7. 24 Jan 1954, Nanyang Commercial Press - Sunday Times: Children Educational Film - “Blame It On Father”

"There are more than a dozen of child actors/actresses involve in this movie, Pong Bak-Yun and Lee Siu Loong (BL) both have acting experience. Pong plays the daughter of Chan’s couple, and her acting has improved tremendously while Lee Siu Loong (BL) played the role of “Ngau Wong Zai” (literally means son of The Ox King) and many areas of his acting deserve good comments. If both of them could continue their hardwork, they would have a bright future in their acting career.”


8. 13th Feb 1955, Nanyang Commercial Press - Sunday Times: Outstanding Cantonese Film – “Love” (Part 1)

"To commemorate the 2nd anniversary of United Pictures, the company summoned all its directors (6 of them) and the entire group of stars to make this movie. This remarkable feat has set a record in HK Cantonese movie industry. In this movie, Ng Chor Fan, Cheung Wood-Yau, Lee Ching, Ma Sze-Tsang, Hung Sin-Nui, Pak Yin, Wong Man-Lei, Siu Yin-Fei, Yung Siu-Yi, Tsi Law-Lin, Mui Yee, Ko Lo-Chuen, Chow Chi-Sing, Lee Yuet-Ching, Fung Ying-Seung, Wong Cho-San, Ma Siu-Ying, Lee Siu-Loong (BL), Law Hin-Tat etc. were sailing in the “Universal Love” steamship to Nanyang (literally means south ocean, a general term referring to Malaya). In the midst of the journey, the ship hit the reef because of heavy fog and the circumstances were very dangerous. All the ship crew and passengers’ life were at stake and at this critical moment, Captain (played by Lo Tun) used his own body to fill up the ship leakages and sacrificed his life eventually. All the people on the ship were in awe of his noble act and saluted him with highest respect...”


9. 6th Mar 1955, Nanyang Commercial Press - Sunday Times: “Love Part 2.”

“It is made up of 5 short stories. In one of the stories - “Family’s Love,” Lee Siu Loong (BL) plays the role of the son of a street artist family. The film portrays how the 4 members in the family including BL’s parents and elder sister who make a living on the street by performing Kung Fu and acrobatics. Unlike similar genre of films, this film carries certain depth. It describes about the agony of the street performers. The father, Ma Sze-Tsang forced his daughter, Yung Siu-Yi to perform risky stunt, i.e. standing on a shaky chair and had her waist bend over to bite a cup. That scene must have touched many audiences and made them shed tears. All the four members in the family left a very deep impression on the audience…Lee Siu Loong (BL) plays a teenage street performer, seemed to be very experienced and skillful. This young actor’s shines among the group of various experienced and skillful actors/actresses. He did not show any color of a green horn in front of these old birds….The story continue from part 1, where the passengers were on board of the “Universal Love” steamship. The story reached the climax when an accident occurred. There was a huge explosion at the cabin and it caught fire. Captain (played by Hamilton Lee Tit) climbed to the top of the cabin and used his body to press against the flame. He extinguished the fire and kept the ship from being destroyed completely by the explosion. However, he sacrificed his life in this tragedy. This is the most touching and emotional scene. Subsequently, there is a scene of the captain’s burial ceremony and the passengers paying their respect to him, the atmosphere in the cinema became solemn...”

10. 25th Feb 1956, Tai Seng Movie News – “The Wise Guys Who Fools Around”

“Sun-Ma Sze-Tsang and Lee Siu Loong team up to play the amusing roles in this comedy. Both have a great comical performance in this movie that is filled with laughter and fun.”


11. 14th Mar 1957 Tai Seng Movie News - “The Thunderstorm”

"His only scholar type of role in 'The Thunderstorm' (adapted from famous Chao Yu’s novel of the same title). A new attempt and fair acting from the teenage star."


12. 13th Jun 1958, Nanyang Commercial Press – “Too Late For Divorce”

"Leading female opera actress Fong Yim-Fen co-stars “Lover of opera” - Yam Kin-Fai, “handsome actor” Wu Fung and Lee Siu Loong (BL) etc. in this comedy with marvelous performances. Before this film, there are two films of the same theme, i.e. “She says ‘No!’ to Marriage”(1951) and “She Said ''No!'' to Marriage But Now She Says '’Yes'”(1952). Now, “Too Late For Divorce” would definitely be more sensational!"


13. 14th Jul 1959, Nanyang Commercial Press – “Darling Girl”

"Child star Lee Siu Loong dances the popular cha-cha in a party swiftly and made people feel like dancing in the ball too..."


14. 28th May 1960, Nanyang Commercial Press – “Hualien company’s ‘The Orphan” A grade ‘A’ color

"Cantonese film produced by Ng Chor-Fan and directed by Lee Sun Fung. Lee Siu Loong played an orphan and child criminal. He has a very excellent and successful performance."


15. 1960 -- Movie critics – “The Orphan”

"Famous movie critics Shih Chi has a good review of BL’s performance, he dubbed this film as "undoubtedly Bruce Lee's masterpiece and his character in this film was indeed vivid and powerful.”


16. 1960 -- Director critics – “The Orphan”

"1960 – Shaw director, Chang Cheh, “Lee Siu Loong is comparable to James Dean, when he frowns and shows off his body language, his acting is truly amazing, I’d dub him as the James Dean of the East.”


NOTE: Time and effort have been put in researching, compiling, translating, and writing these articles as well as designing the wallpaper. So, will appreciate anyone who wishes to use this articles/wallpaper do put a link to Nick Clarke’s forum as a way to credit the forum and the contributor. Thanks.
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LJF
Joined: December 6th, 2014, 3:05 am

January 1st, 2016, 8:12 am #4

Bruce Lee’s Childhood Videos (Bruce Lee HKF Archive - Public Domain):

1) Golden Gate Girl (1941) Promo:

2) Kid Cheung (1950): :

3) A Myriad Homes (1953):

4) Blame It On Father (1953):

5) The Guiding Light (1953):

6) In The Face of Demolition:

7) Love(Part II):

8)The Wise Guys Who Fool Around (1955):


9) Orphan's Song (1955):

10) An Orphan's Tragedy (1955):

11) We Owe It To Our Children (1955):

12) Too Late For Divorce (1956):

13) Darling girl(1957):

14) Thunderstorm(1957):

15) The Orphan (1958) promo:
HKFA Clip 1:
HKFA Clip 2:
HKFA Clip 3:
HKFA Clip 4:
HKFA Clip 5:
HD TVB (49 sec):
HD 1 (13 sec):
HD 2 (6 sec) :
HD 3 (21 sec):

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Joined: July 16th, 2003, 11:43 am

January 1st, 2016, 1:21 pm #5

NT
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Joined: September 19th, 2015, 12:07 pm

January 1st, 2016, 2:40 pm #6

Here is a wallpaper of BL as a shinning child star with his complete 25 childhood movies:

http://postimg.org/image/zbt1o7pft/
Awesome wallpaper.

Also, I think it's the first time I saw the complete list of Bruce's 25 childhood movies in the list. Other books either say 22 or 23. Great research!

From the critics we could see that Bruce was a talented child actor. Bruce would still make a good actor even he didn't do martial arts movies.
Thanks for sharing the valuable info.
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LJF
Joined: December 6th, 2014, 3:05 am

January 2nd, 2016, 7:18 am #7

I've researched and compiled the complete 25 childhood movie info, including the synopsis, cast, released date, production co. etc. and also found 16 out of his 25 childhood films. They are gems that would be treasured dearly.

Bruce's acting ability had been overlooked in the past. Much attention has been placed on his martial arts prowess. If he had taken the non-action path, he would probably succeed and became a great actor with good acting skills, like the late James Dean. But of course, then, we might lose a chance to see the exciting performances of a great Kung Fu legend.

In fact, Bruce intended to play a non-action role in a melodrama, "Sai Fung" after his success in several martial arts movies. But audience would wonder whether it would end up like Sylvester Stallone's comedies' disasters - "Oscar" (1991) and "Stop! or My Mom Will Shoot" (1992), or it would turn up like Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Twins" (1988)and "Kindergarten Cop" (1990) which both proved very successful.

If we look back at Bruce's "The Orphan"(1960) which was a box-office success and received good critics, it's not difficult to imagine Bruce would have a chance to succeed in a non-action role, provided he was given a good script and good director.




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Steven C.
Steven C.

January 3rd, 2016, 2:57 am #8

- NT -
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