HK Stuntman Talks About Bruce LeeJune 25 2015 at 3:33 PM
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Steve Lee Ka Ting (1945.11.01 - ) was one of the 12 stuntmen Bruce Lee intended to bring along with him to the U.S. in 1973 after completing Enter The Dragon.
Steve Lee was a famous HK stuntman since the age of 20 and has played in many movies and HKTVB TV series, usually as villains. He is also well known for his work on Kickboxer (1989) and Royal Tramp (1992).
During an interview with TVB show – “Big Boys Club” (episode 1171 – “Stuntmen Years”) in August 19th, 2014, he talked about his stuntman years and recalled about some interesting accounts on Bruce Lee.
Below are excerpts from his interview (Steve Lee – SL):
Q1: Why did you learn Kung Fu? When did you become a Kung Fu Actor?
SL: I was interested in Kung Fu when I was a kid. However, my parents thought that I had a bad temper and forbid me to learn. When I was about 15, I started to learn Kung Fu secretly from Master Kwan Cheng Leung. I paid the lesson fees through the money earned from my vacation jobs. Master Kwan thought I have some talent in Kung Fu, thus, accepted me as his disciple and also introduced me to become a stuntman later on. Initially, I learnt some Peking Opera techniques or so called the northern style Kung Fu, later, I learnt Wing Chun, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Western Boxing etc. During those years as stuntman, it was not difficult but painful. There was absolutely no job security, to be accurate, stuntmen were “human sandbags”.
Q2: Did you have any real life fighting experience besides movie?
SL: I had whacked some sex maniacs on many occasions, haha… There was once Bruce Leung (not Bruce Lee) and I had a street brawl with more than a dozen of gangsters. Leung and I were from the same clan i.e. Wing Chun and Karate. Leung is still very tough till these days.
Q3: In your opinion, who is the best in Kung Fu and who do you admired most?
SL: Bruce Lee, of course. Nobody in the world like Bruce Lee was so crazy about Kung Fu. Bruce would pay 60 thousand dollars to someone who would perform his style of Kung Fu to him and then captured his Kung Fu movement with his super 8mm camera. However, Bruce would only select and pick 5 or 6 strokes of this new style which he thought are worth mastering. Then, he would practice at home for many hours. He was so crazy about martial arts. The most difficult key elements in mastering Kung Fu are speed, accuracy and aggressiveness. Bruce possessed them all.
Q4: Have you seen Bruce involved in a fight?
SL: Actually Bruce and I knew each other quite well. He was about 5-6 years older than me. I have not seen him involved in a fight, but, his strength was very amazing. I remembered one day, we were walking across a road in Tsim Sha Tsui, there were 2 punks who walked passed us, uttered something like “Bruce is such an XXX”, Bruce overheard, walked towards them, jokingly flexed his arms and lifted each of them up with their feet above the ground side by side, just like a weighing scale (Bruce seemed like the Popeye the Sailor Man). Another incident happened at the studio, we were playing with the bulky “discus” that were used for securing the wire-flying. The strongest guy could only lift it once but Bruce could do it 4 to 5 times at one shot. He could devote all his body energy at a focal point either at his finger or fist. Ordinary persons just could not do it.
Q5: What other "crazy" things did you see in Bruce?
SL: I used to call Bruce, “Brother Sai Fung” or “Brother Loong” as he was older than me. One day, we were at a club with a group of people. Bruce at our requests, performed his new iron finger Kung Fu. He tried to poke through a solid cola can with his finger (note: during the early 70s, cola can was made of iron or steel and were much thicker than the ones today). The can flew passed us as Bruce poked. We picked up the can and saw a hollow size in it. The incredible force of Bruce’s finger had pressed the side in. Bruce said give him some more time, he would be able to poke through the can with a hole without hurting his finger. Unfortunately, he passed away soon after that incident. I tried to learn this iron finger Kung Fu privately by myself but was unsuccessful.
Q6: Did you see Bruce trained with special equipment?
SL: He had a lot of training equipment and apparatus in his room. The most special things which I saw was that he used newspapers and chrysanthemum petals during his training sessions for punching, kicking and reflexes conditioning. In fact, all these ways of training could be seen in the post Bruce Lee era HK martial arts movies. Many of these films in fact, have copied Bruce’s training methods.
Q7: Is it true that Bruce wanted to make movies in U.S.A. after Enter The Dragon?
SL: Yes, it’s true. Actually, Bruce had come up with a “Green Bamboo Warrior” script which he intended to cooperate with Warner Bros. The film was intended to be shot in San Francisco. However, to make a Kung Fu movie, you need to have good action choreographers and stuntmen. Bruce knew at that time, there was no Hollywood stuntmen that knew Chinese Kung Fu nor understood HK movie style of fighting. Thus, upon discussion with Warner Bros, Bruce returned to HK and formed his own stunt team personally. He picked 12 experienced and capable action choreographers and stuntmen for his team. I was one of them (Note: These 12 should include 1. Lam Ching Ying, 2. Yuen Hwa, 3. Bee Chan, 4. Wu Ngan, 5. Sammo Hung, 6. Jackie Chan, 7. Yuen Biao, 8. Corey Yuen, 9. Meng Hoi, 10. Stephen Tung Wai, 11. Philip Ko Fei, and 12. Steve Lee Ka Ting). After discussing and agreeing to the conditions verbally by his stunt team, Bruce pressed Warner Bros to sign the working contracts with us. Unfortunately, Bruce passed away before we could go to America. I live with regrets till today. It was more than 2 decades after Bruce passing that in the 90s, HK stars like Jackie Chan, Chow Fat, Jet Li and John Woo went knocking at the Hollywood’s door. However, without Bruce paving the way for these stars, the rest would be a different story.
Q8: What were your fond memories about Bruce?
SL: Bruce was a philosophical person who would always tell the stuntmen and the people around him many theories about Kung Fu, movie, life etc. He treated all the stuntmen very well and really took care of our welfare. I always remember his confidence, generosity and words of wisdom till today. He rejected many movie offers that would actually allow him to earn a lot of money as he thought he would live a life with dignity rather than be a slave to money. He was indeed a role model that I always looked upon to. His positiveness towards life inspired me and I would always remembered him as my dear "Brother Sai Fung" or "Brother Loong".
Thanks for that. - Anonymous on Jun 25, 2015, 6:31 PM
Re: HK Stuntman Talks About Bruce Lee - Nick Clarke on Jun 26, 2015, 12:52 AM