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Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee was an Chinese American actor, the son of martial artist and actor Bruce Lee and his wife Linda Emery.

Early life

Brandon Lee was born in Oakland, California to martial artist and actor Bruce Lee and his American wife Linda Emery. The family moved to Los Angeles, California when Brandon was three months old. When offers for film roles became limited for his father, the family moved to his father's childhood home of Hong Kong in 1971, where Bruce Lee made several films from 1971 - 1973.

When he was 8 years old, Brandon's father Bruce died from a cerebral edema. After his father's death, his mother moved Brandon and his younger sister Shannon (born in 1969) back to the United States. They lived shortly in his mother's hometown of Seattle (where Bruce Lee is buried) and then to Los Angeles, where Brandon grew up in the affluent area of Rolling Hills.

He attended high school at The Chadwick School, but was kicked out three months shy of graduating for insubordination. He received his GED in 1983 and then went to Emerson College in Boston, MA where he majored in theatre. 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.

Theatrical career

Lee returned to Los Angeles in 1985, where he worked for Ruddy Morgan Productions as a script reader. He was asked to read for the part of Chung Wang, Kwai Chang Caine's son in Kung Fu: The Movie (1986), the sequel to the 1970s television show Kung Fu and got the part. He also portrayed Johnny Caine in Kung Fu: The Next Generation (1987), who is the great-grandson of the character Kwai Chang Caine.

Lee continued to study acting privately and appeared in local theatre productions and low budget films. In 1991 he starred in Showdown in Little Tokyo, his first studio film, and then did his first starring role in Rapid Fire. He signed a multi-picture deal with 20th Century Fox in 1991 and was slated to do two more films for them. In 1992 he landed the lead role of Eric Draven in the movie adaptation of The Crow, a movie based on the popular underground comic book of the same name. It would be his last film.

Fatal accident

Because The Crow's second unit team were running behind schedule, it was decided that dummy cartridges — bullets that outwardly appear to be functional, but contain no gunpowder and hence pose no threat to those on the set of a movie — would be made from real cartridges that had been brought to the set earlier in production. Bruce Merlin, an effects technician, dismantled the live cartridges by removing the bullets, emptying out the gunpowder, detonating the primer and reinserting the bullets. This rendered the cartridges inoperative, but real looking in appearance. Merlin and his propmaster Daniel Kuttner took initiative to create some blanks. To create these, Merlin and Kuttner removed the bullets from live cartridges and replaced the gunpowder with firework powder. The bullets were not reinserted.

Later, a cartridge with only a primer and a bullet (but no gunpowder) was fired in a pistol. This caused the bullet to lodge in the forcing cone of the revolver.

When the first unit used this gun to shoot Lee's death scene, the chamber was loaded with blanks which had no bullets. However, there was still the bullet in the barrel, which was propelled out by the blank cartridge's explosion. Consequently, Lee was shot and killed as cameras rolled in Wilmington, North Carolina. The footage of his death was soon destroyed without ever being developed. After his tragic death, he was buried next to his father in Lake View Cemetery, Capitol Hill, Seattle, Washington.

The shooting was ruled an accident, though many fans suspected foul play. (Bruce Lee's own death in 1973 at age 32, apparently from a reaction to painkillers, was also considered suspicious.) Oddly, Bruce Lee's character in Game of Death is shot in a similar fashion. Bruce's character, like Brandon's in The Crow, returns (from the dead, although the character did not actually die) to get revenge on his adversaries.

The Crow was released in May 1994, and became a box office smash. The film is dedicated to Brandon and his fiancée Eliza Hutton. They were to have been married on April 17, 1993. Lee was survived by his mother and sister.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2006.

Brandon Lee Facts

Birth NameBrandon Bruce Lee
BirthdayFebruary 1, 1965
BirthplaceOakland, California, USA
Date of deathMarch 31, 1993 (Wilmington, North Carolina, USA, age 28)
Height5' 11" (1m80)  How tall is Brandon Lee compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Not available.