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Interview: Bruce Lee - An Impulsive Dragon

November 18 2015 at 6:20 AM
LJF  (Login LJF)

On 1st April 1970, Wong Ak-Chung left Shaw Brothers to join Golden Harvest, a new movie production company founded by Raymond Chow, Leonard Ho, Leung Fung and Choi Wing Cheong. Wong was Bruce’s colleague and he witnessed Bruce’s daily life and movies-making from 1971 to 1973. Wong graduated from the faculty of News Media of Far East College. He once worked as a journalist and wrote many articles. After joining GH, he became the editor of GH’s “Galaxy Pictorial Magazine.” Before his retirement from GH, Wong held the posts of Information director and film production director. He was once the president of HK & Macau Movie & Opera Association. Wong is in his 80s and is now residing in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

During a Chinese interview titled “Bruce Lee: An Impulsive Dragon” with “Watch Movies Magazine,” Wong spoke about the real incidents, particularly those that happened in the year which Bruce passed away, Bruce’s mental condition seemed to be very unstable. Below is his interview:

Q1: Could you still remember the first time you meet Bruce?
Wong: I remembered Bruce was returning to HK to pursue his movie career in 1971. At that time, I thought Bruce would become a very big star in the future, so, I looked for him to publish a book called “Lee Siu Loong” (Bruce’s Chinese name). I interviewed him and put together some photos and the book (the first ever Bruce Lee’s book in HK) was published in a rush. However, the 5,000 copies were sold off completely within one day. I made a little profit out of it. Although Bruce’s new movie (The Big Boss) was not yet released but he was already very popular in HK. Many fans adored and admired him very much. When Bruce first returned to HK in 1971, he was very warm, eloquent and humorous. He often cracked jokes and was very easy-going. His brother (Peter Lee) and sister-in-law (Eunice Lam) accompanied him for the interview. My colleague and I interviewed him for about 2-3 hours. He was very patient in answering our questions.

Q2: Is it true that Bruce only respect and listen to 2 persons, one was his wife Linda and the other, Raymond Chow?
Wong: Yes, it is. Bruce usually listened to Chow’s opinions (as he is more experienced in running the movie’s business). I saw Bruce was really nice to his wife and cared a lot for his 2 children, Brandon and Shannon. Unfortunately, his son died in an accident while filming in the U.S.

Q3: Was Bruce very popular among women?
Wong: (Laugh). Many female stars really admired and worshipped Bruce. But whether they had any other relationships, I dare not say. However, all the people were aware that Bruce and Betty Ting were hanging around very often.

Q4: From the photo, Betty Ting looks like a seductive woman. Is she that kind of woman in real life?
Wong: Well, can’t put this label on her. After all, she is still a very normal person.

Q5: It was said that Bruce and Lo Wei had a great tension in their relationship. Jackie Chan said it was always Bruce who was shouting and giving instructions during the filming of Fist of Fury?
Wong: Honestly speaking, Bruce had a westernalised personality. He usually would raise his personal opinions, like how to get a good takes from certain camera angles. In the past, HK directors were like the big shot Commander. It was always the directors who gave orders and the actors/actresses were never allowed give their opinions. But Bruce was different. Whatever he saw, he would voice his views. That’s why it caused much frictions and unhappiness between them as time went on.

Q6: There were some exaggerated speculations like Bruce resorted to use violence on Lo Wei?
Wong: There was an incident like this. It happened in the later stage of his life, Bruce’s personality changed and became very unusual, and that was when the incident occurred. I remembered one day Lo Wei was watching his new film in the GH’s AV room and don’t know why Bruce suddenly charged in and saw Lo. As he had some disputes with Lo earlier on, thus, this sparked the fire in him when he saw Lo again. Bruce suddenly drew out a small knife from his belt, about 3 to 4 inches long. Lo was watching the film and Bruce stood in front of him and said, “I’d like to open your stomach with this knife and see what’s the color of your heart” (note: Lo had been telling others repeatedly that Bruce owed his superstardom to him as without him, BOSS & FOF won’t break the box office records. Bruce was just a greenhorn in the film industry etc).

Lo was almost scared to death and threatened to call the police. Someone rang up 999 and the police really came. As I didn’t want the public to be aware of this incident (bad reputation for the stars and the company), so, I ran to the entrance of the studio and told the police that nothing had happened, it was just a misunderstanding. They accepted some gifts from me (note: bribery was very common in that era and the HK police force was corrupted until the ICAC was established in 73 or 74). However, they said since someone had called 999 and it was not whether I say nothing had happened and the matter would be put to rest. Hence, a group of police officers came into the GH studio and search for Bruce’s “weapon” as Lo told them Bruce used it to threatened his life. However, they couldn’t find anything and Lo could only say Bruce had threatened him using some harsh words. Actually, we had hidden the small knife beneath a cabinet before the police arrived. That was why the police couldn’t find it (Note: Lo’s wife, Lau Leung-Wah was protective of her husband and accused Bruce of biting the hands that fed him. Bruce was requested by the police to write a reassurance letter that he would never threaten Lo’s again and the case was closed.)

The impact of the incident was very great. That very night (5th July 1973), TVB invited Bruce on a talk show, “Enjoy Yourself Tonight” to talk about this incident. It was hosted by Ivan Ho Bee. He asked Bruce whether the speculation was true that he used his belt to beat Lo Wei. Bruce said, "If I were to beat him, do I need a belt? I just need to do this..." --- then suddenly Bruce made a slight, casual movement forward and Ivan Ho fell back onto the sofa instantly. All the viewers saw that scene on TV.

Q7: Ivan Ho had said in his interview that this ‘knock-over scene’ was prearranged by Bruce Lee?
Wong: Bruce didn’t actually hit Ivan Ho. On the TVB show, I personally saw Bruce just moved his body a bit and then Ivan Ho was seen falling back to his seat.

Q8: Have you seen Bruce perform Kung Fu in real life? Many people saw Bruce kicked cigarette butt and did 2 fingers push up.
Wong: Yes, he used to perform his 2 fingers push up when he came over to our office to chit-chat with us. He also got us to touch his abdominal muscle which we felt was hard like a metal plate. However, there was really something wrong with his body later on. Once during the dubbing session (dubbing for ETD in May 1973), he went to the washroom but did not return for a very long time. We told the dubbing supervisor, Chow Siu-Lung to look for him. He then found Bruce lying on the floor who looked as if he had just woke up. (note: Bruce pretended to look for his contact lenses) Bruce got hold of Chow Siu-Lung’s arms and told him to keep this to himself and never to tell people that he (Bruce) lied on the floor otherwise he would kill him (Chow). So, Chow Siu-Lung dared not reveal this incident until Bruce passed away several years later. We did not understand why Bruce didn’t want us to know about it, probably because he wanted to maintain his healthy image in the eyes of the public. In fact, Bruce did pay a lot of attention to his body. We were guessing that his head might have some problems as he frequently complained of headaches. However, it was strange that he did not allow others to examine his head when he went for a body checkup. That’s why we suspected that his death was related to his head/ brain problem.

Q9: Was there any unusual thing about Bruce in his later stage of his life?
Wong: Bruce was witty and used to speak indepth and with wisdom in his conversations. He had also many own theories about life, work, martial arts etc. But things were different later on. I was in-charge of a GH publication called “Galaxy Pictorial Magazine” but it had ceased printing now. It was an entertainment magazine. There was once an article that criticised him which made him very mad. One day (circa 12th July 1973), he did not approach me instead he went to look for Raymond Chow. Bruce said, “Wong Ak Chung and I are colleagues, why did he publish the article that criticised me?” Raymond tried to help me to explain to him that the criticism might not bear any ill-intention instead it might mean with good intention. However, Bruce insisted on seeing me. Raymond had no choice but to call me and I went into his office. Bruce suddenly screamed at me, “You sit down!” I was not aware of what had happened and sat down as ordered. Bruce then drew out his small knife from his belt and placed it on my neck. He said, “Your pen used for writing articles is just like my knife, if it’s not handled properly, it’ll kill life!” I really didn’t understand what was going on and told him, “Bruce, please calm down and tell me what have I done wrong and where have I offended you?” Bruce then said, “This article in your magazine talked bad about me.” (note: it says something like Bruce was groomed and well taken care by Raymond Chow in his movie career. Chow was his benefactor. Bruce thought it hinted that he was a spoilt child who had to live under Chow’s support.) I immediately responded, “You read carefully, it didn’t really bad mouth you, in fact, it’s a criticism with good intention. We are good friends and colleagues, I’ll never say bad things about you.” Raymond Chow helped me to put in some good words in front of him, Bruce’s anger then subsided gradually. After the misunderstanding was cleared, Bruce shook hands with me. I only had a sense of fright when I walked out of the room. I wondered what if he was impulsive just now, I might have lost my life.

Q10: I’ve read this article but didn’t expect it was you. When did Bruce suddenly behave so unusually?
Wong: It was somewhere in 1973 when he was filming “Enter The Dragon.” Bruce became very listless and was very different from the past where he was always in high spirit and energetic. He grew much thinner and looked pale. You can see and feel it from his last movie. Everyone of us didn’t know what had happened to him. He probably did not have sufficient rest. There is another weird thing which later, I thought was very mysterious. That is few days after our dispute, I met him at the studio. To avoid embarrassment, I decided to walk away. But Bruce saw and called me. We chatted for a while. He told me some people in HK were not good to him. I didn’t understand whom he was referring to. Then, he said he was returning to Seattle. After the conversation, I returned to my office and carried on with my work.

Q11: When was that?
Wong: Less than a week after our dispute (circa 17th July 1973). Few days after our conversation, he passed away on 20th July, Friday. I heard the news but initially did not believe it was true. Later, the news reported his death over the TV. Till then, I knew it was real. After his funeral in HK, the casket that carried his body was flown to Seattle. I still feel a bit eerie why Bruce had earlier told me he was returning to Seattle? At the end, he really returned to Seattle but he was lying in the casket. Was this premonition or what? It’s really creepy. Bruce’s life was short but glamorous. He had been making films in HK for just a few years but his influence to the world was enormous.

Q12: Lastly, can you share with us some of the deepest impression Bruce left on you?
Wong: Bruce paid a lot of attention in keeping his body fit and healthy. He was constantly training very hard in martial arts and was very persistent in jogging daily. Towards work, he was very serious and meticulous. That may be the reasons that led to his success. Unfortunately, he died too soon. I remembered during the breaks of filming, he was always willing to chat with people. He loved to tell jokes that were very hilarious and often made all of us laughed and we all felt joyful working with him. Bruce not only had a good sense of humor and affinity but he was also very easy going, never put on airs. It was truly rare for a big celebrity like him to do that......

Photos of Bruce Lee and Wong Ak Chung:

 Respond to this message   

  • Re: Interview: Bruce Lee - An Impulsive Dragon - HB on Nov 18, 2015, 7:45 AM
  • Impulsive Dragon - Forvermoreless on Nov 18, 2015, 10:14 AM
  • imho - Anonymous on Nov 18, 2015, 10:14 AM
  • Re: Interview: Bruce Lee - An Impulsive Dragon - shaolinguy on Nov 18, 2015, 11:54 AM
  • Re: Interview: Bruce Lee - An Impulsive Dragon - James on Nov 18, 2015, 4:13 PM
  • Re:Interview: Bruce Lee - An Impulsive Dragon - rockfish on Nov 18, 2015, 5:31 PM
  • Hmm - panttelis on Nov 18, 2015, 8:00 PM
  • Re: Interview: Bruce Lee - An Impulsive Dragon - Chris Richards on Nov 18, 2015, 9:25 PM
  • Re: Interview: Bruce Lee - An Impulsive Dragon - Jeet on Nov 19, 2015, 11:13 AM
  • Great interview thanks LJF NT - Nick Clarke on Dec 1, 2015, 5:00 PM
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