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Interview With Bee Chan

July 13 2015 at 8:03 AM
LJF  (Login LJF)

Bee Chan (aka Billy Chan Wui-Ngai) and Lam Ching Ying were Bruce Lee right/left hand men. Bruce trusted them as both knew Bruce’s desired choreography and were able to execute Bruce’s instructions accordingly. Lam Ching Ying had passed away in 1997 while Bee Chan has been working as a movie producer and director in HK since the 80s. He has shifted his movie career to mainland China in recent years. In 2010, to celebrate Bruce’s 70th anniversary, he directed a Chinese movie, “Jeet Kune Do” starring Bruce Leung/Liang and a young Bruce’s imitator, Chen Tianxing.
Below are excerpts from his various Chinese interviews compilations from 2008-2014 in Huaxi City Paper, Sichuan Chendu Daily, Chongqing Business Times, Sohu etc.

Q1: When was the first time you met Bruce?
BC: In Pak Cheong, Thailand while we were filming “The Big Boss.” Lam Ching Ying and I saw him for the first time. We were only 17-18 years old then and were earning 70 HK dollars a day. When we saw Bruce, a newcomer that just arrived at the filming location, we actually despised him. Bruce noticed that instantly and purposely told Lam Ching Ying to hold a big protective gear and then he side kicked the hell out of Lam. Lam flew about 9 meters away. We were all shocked and terrified.
Bruce’s Kung Fu was amazing, I saw him kidding around with the Thai stuntmen who knew Thai boxing very well and one of them was a former bantam-weight Thai Boxing champion but he just simply outshone them. I thought this guy must have come from another planet. He was definitely not from the earth because he was so strong and far better than anyone else I knew.

Q2: How was Bruce as a person?
BC: He was a very confident, hyperactive and a kind-hearted person. His attitude towards workers and bosses were entirely different. He treated the workers very friendly but was arrogant towards the bosses. He was particularly protective towards the weaker ones. Usually, he would initiate the move to say hello to the workers at the studios and would try to create a cordial working environment for all of us. Bruce told us that the boss only treated him like a money-generating machine. Thus, he had no duty to lick their boots. He was right. Indeed, we always saw the boss trying to coax him.

Bruce was also a very smart person who could tell a person’s mind very well as if he knew psychology. He would first observe the person’s gesture, body language and the eyes, particularly. He would even go to the extent of letting the person touched his chest or abdomen, and then, he would gauge the person’s thinking. He would discover whether the person liked or disliked him, agreed with his ideas or not. If not, he would try all ways and means to convince the person. His convincing power was absolutely marvelous.

Q3: Did Bruce use stand-in or double for his movies? Was it a double that kicked Bob Wall that sent him flying in ETD?
BC: I ever doubled for him in Big Boss and FOF. Bruce was a martial artist, so, he definitely was capable of doing the stunts himself. Why double? Because when shooting schedule was very tight with 3 cameras rolling at the same time, Bruce was up to the eyes in work. As we know, if the actor is injured because of high-risks stunts, then it would affect the shooting schedule. In ETD, it was Bruce himself that kicked Bob Wall who then flew backwards and fractured the stuntmen behind him. The force generated from his kick was very powerful.

Q4: Was Bruce as invincible in real life as he was in his movies?
BC: Bruce was after all, a human no matter how strong he was. We did ask Bruce if he was being ambushed by a dozen of attackers with knifes, what would the outcome be. He replied that he might be hurt but the opponents would definitely be much worst than him. We all knew that Bruce would never back out and turn away from this kind of confrontations because he was that kind of person who have so much confidence and passion in fighting. His life was to live to fight. He once told us that if you were to engage in a fight, the ultimate motive is to win. So, even you have to bite the opponent, just bite him! Forget about all the forms and styles, real fighting is fighting as it is. In other words, there is no technique to all techniques.

I have been in the movie circle in my entire life and after Bruce, I have never met such a confident and charismatic action star again. Bruce might not be the best fighter in the world but he was for sure, the most charismatic star I have ever seen. He just possessed the unique qualities that would simply mesmerise the audience.

Q5: Were you involved in all his movies, including the uncompleted G.O.D.? Could you remember the filming of the outdoor scenes in G.O.D.?
BC: Yes, most of them. For G.O.D., we were filming the outdoor footage in New Territory and Sai Kung on and off for a week or more. Bruce coached and rehearsed with us before shooting. There was no proper script but pile of notes which Bruce often referred to and made changes on the spot.
The 3 pagoda guardians Inosanto, Hwang In-Shik and his master, Ji Han Jae were also present and filming with the stuntmen and Bruce on different occasions. We rehearsed shortly and then filmed some outdoor scenes that Bruce intended to use for the actual movie. Apart from several GH movie cameras that were rolling, Bruce was also filming with his own super 8mm home camera. We stopped shooting G.O.D. when Bruce went to film E.T.D. After E.T.D., Bruce said we would wrap up G.O.D. before going to U.S. Too bad, the film was not completed and shelved until few years after Bruce’s passing, Sammo Hung and Robert Clouse used doubles to complete the films with a different storyline.

Q6: So, was Bruce really planning to leave H.K. after E.T.D. and return to Hollywood with you guys?
BC: Yes, Bruce planned to make another few movies in H.K. and then returned to Hollywood. He was in negotiations with Shaw about a period movie called “Shen Long” (means Celestial Dragon) that was supposed to start filming in late 1973 or 74. Bruce had promised to bring Lam Ching Ying, Yuen Hua, Ngan Chai (Wu Ngan), me and the rest of the stunt team members to US. Everything had been discussed, agreed upon and fixed. However, the U.S. trip was cancelled due to his sudden death.

Q7: What do you think were the causes of Bruce’s death? Do you think he was murdered?.
BC: Murder? No, there is no logic or evidence to this rumor. Personally, I think it was due to excessive workouts as well as drug overdose. You know, the first time I saw him, he was carrying various big packets and small packets of all types of vitamin pills. There were several occasions where I saw Bruce drank ox blood and ate plenty of supplements (maybe 100 tablets) at one go.

As he was getting busier and busier in his filming schedule and other related matters, he had lesser time to train with us. But, in order to maintain his tip-top physical condition and going beyond limitations as he always did, he often used electric shock to stimulate his muscles and trained his reflexes. A normal person would require 5-6 hours of weightlifting so as to achieve the desired goal but using electric shock, “pop,” just took seconds to achieve the similar effect. I believe it was because of this extraordinary, over-exertion of energy that led to his death tragedy ultimately. Bruce died at 32, at the peak of his life and career, in fact, was a perfect ending for him. He was a perfectionist and chose to leave the best of him behind. To the fans over the world, he would forever a legend.

Q8: After Bruce’s death, what do you and the rest of Bruce’s stuntmen do?
BC: In fact, when Bruce died, there were 4-5 years where nobody looked for us to film Kung Fu movies. It was really a tough time in our life then. Without work in H.K., we had no choice but to go to U.K. to perform martial arts so as to make a living. (Note: Jackie Chan was also jobless as a stuntman in ’74. He went to Australia for 2 years and stayed with his parents. He worked as a cook with his father who was a Chef until ’76, he was summoned by Willie Chan to make movies for Lo Wei in HK).
Many locals in U.K. would often point at us and said, “Oh, you are that guy in...” In fact, I was just an extra in Bruce’s movies but they all could remember me. Nowadays, I see so many fans around the world paying tribute to Bruce Lee, and there are so many books, videos, poster and souvenirs of him available everywhere. That’s why, till today, I feel that Bruce has not been gone. He is still with us.

Q9: Did you own anything from Bruce that is worth showing?
BC: Bruce was indeed very kind and generous to his men. He often gave clothing to me. Any clothes we like, he would just give it to us. However, I really regretted that I have never kept all the clothing given by him. But my brother, Peter Chan Lung, retained one of Bruce’s clothing and later gave it as a present to the president of the HK Bruce Lee Fan Club. This precious gift really made the fans excited for a very long time. I had just completed “Jeet Kune Do” the movie. This is to pay tribute to Bruce and commemorate his anniversary. I think this is the best thing that is worth showing to Bruce’s fans and keeping his legacy alive.

 Respond to this message   

  • Another interesting article - Greg P on Jul 13, 2015, 6:24 PM
  • Thanks for posting LJF great article (NT) - Suresh on Jul 15, 2015, 5:13 PM
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