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Piet Schweer’s stories on Bruce Lee: “THE WAY I SAW IT”

January 9 2017 at 7:50 AM
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Piet Schweer is a low profile guy according to his friend, Marius Krugar. It may not easy to get him on Q & A on the forum but in recent months he has actually written something about his stories on Bruce Lee which most BL fans would want to know. So, this may gives us an insight of the stories on working with BL behind WOTD scenes.

Piet Schweer actually wrote and shared his stories in a South African’s BL Fans FB (Public Group) called “RSA fan club - His life, Legacy & Facts.” Piet posts randomly and so far, only 4 parts are being posted and for part 5 is still not up yet.

Credits go to Marius Krugar, the friend of Piet Schweer and his abovementioned FB. (Note: The information hereby is strictly meant for free sharing among BL fans only and not for other circulation or trading purposes.)

(by Piet Schweer, September 29, 2016 • Hamburg, Germany)

Hi to all Bruce Lee Fans in South Africa, my friend, Marius Kruger, asked me, if I could contribute to this ambitious "Bruce Lee: South Africa" group, with some recalls of my memory about my time in Hong Kong, at the peak of the martial art movies. Of course with relations to Bruce Lee, as I experienced it.

As Marius Kruger is such an enthusiastic fan, who is literally burning for everything concerning Bruce Lee, I did not have to hesitate a minute, to give him a positive answer.

First of all, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Piet Schweer (actually Peter, but no one cares). I am German and live currently in Hamburg, Germany.

1970 to 1978, I lived and worked in Hong Kong. The former British colony by 1970/71 was the capital of martial art movies. Not really kung fu movies, that genre developed with Bruce Lee´s early movies. The martial art movies produced before 1972 were extremely unrealistic and in vast parts very funny. No doubt, that the actors for these movies had to be acrobatic artists, but......flying over 3 story buildings, doing multiple summersaults and balancing on the tip of a sword, was too much and resulted in phrenic pain. For me that was, not for my Chinese friends.

For educational reasons, I went 2 or 3 times per week to watch the midnight show at the Sands Theatre just on the other side of street from where I lived. Apropos midnight show; there I was, surrounded by hundreds of smoking, drinking and chicken legs chewing Chinese residents, who could not understand a word spoken in the shown movie, because all dialogs where in mandarin language, which was only spoken by a minority of Hong Kong residents. Therefore every of that "Flying Dagger" movies had Cantonese subtitles. I could neither understand nor read what was going on, but had a lot of laughs because of the extreme funny action. Storylines where, in almost any movie, the same anyhow: young daredevil wanted to impress, save or kidnapped a young lady. But there were lots of mean characters between him and the lady, who had to be eliminated, one way or the other.

I had the feeling, that Hong Kong produced one of those movies per day. Most of them where so bad, that they never made it out of Hong Kong and show was canceled after 2 or 3 days.

All that changed, with the appearance of Bruce Lee in Hong Kong.

(by Piet Schweer, October 6, 2016 • Hamburg, Germany)

Hi to all Bruce Lee Fans in South Africa,

The first time I saw Bruce Lee, was on the huge park deck of Ocean Terminal in Kowloon, some time around 1971/72. I did my after lunch walk on that park deck, because it had an spectacular surround view of the Hong Kong harbor and was close to my office in Star House.

I passed a small group of people, taking photos of a well dressed young man posing in front of his car. Well, I thought, they probably take advertising shots for Mercedes.

Getting closer, I recognized his car first, because Bruce Lee and his Mercedes were well published in many Hong Kong publications by that time. Besides that, you saw him driving around the tip of Kowloon often, because he lived in that part of the city. Than I noticed, that the well dressed young man was Bruce Lee.

He seemed to be very relaxed, joking with the photographers and obviously having a good time. He posed as requested by the photographers.

I watched the scene for a while, before I had to rush back to the office. That was the first time I saw Bruce Lee. At that time I was not into martial arts and Kung Fu movies and I was not very impressed by seeing Bruce Lee, as I thought, that he is just one of so many movie-making Kung Fu fighters in Hong Kong at that time.

What I kept in mind was, he was better looking and better dressed than the rest of the bunch (my personal opinion) and, that there was something radiant about that young actor.

In retrospective, it looks to me, that Ocean Terminal park deck was one of Bruce Lee´s favourite photo shooting spots, as there are so many with him in that location in circulation.

Little did I know, that pretty soon after that first sighting, I would meet and talk to him. But that is stuff for part 3 of my little column.

(by Piet Schweer, October 19, 2016 • Hamburg, Germany)

Hi to all Bruce Lee fans in South Africa,

It must have been early 1972 that I met Bruce Lee for the first time.
For many years, I lived in a Kowloon apartment building, just across the street of the world famous Peninsula Hotel. At that time, emails were unknown, typewriter for personal letters a "no go". I wrote my personal letters by hand and chose the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel to be the right place. I went there almost every day after work, therefore I was known by the Lobby staff and if ever possible, they reserved my favourite table for me. Countless celebrities crossed the lobby while I was writing my letters. That was much more interesting, than writing in the loneliness of my apartment.

One day, Bruce Lee was sitting at the table next to mine. he was obviously doing business talks with some American business men.

It so happened, that we left the lobby at the same time and he made some funny remarks on my letter writing. I wished him a good evening and left.

Next day, same procedure, I took place at my favourite table, soon afterwards Bruce Lee entered the lobby and chose the same table, next to mine. He was alone, but obviously waiting for some people to join him. Anyhow, he recognized the letter writer, me, from the night before and we talked about odds and ends until his appointment arrived. I do remember that at that second day, we did not exchange a word about martial arts or movies. But he sure did talk about that with the people that joined him.

That went on for a couple of days and we somehow got acquainted that way. Of course I could not overhear that martial arts and movies was the subject of their talks. So I directed our talks to that subject and he told me about his new project and what else he was doing. I always listened careful, because martial art movies were the hype at that time in Hong Kong. I was fascinated to listen to him, not that I could talk to him about martial arts on eyelevel, no, but he had that radiant aura, that made people like me pay attention to him and feel good in his presence. He was very friendly all these days we sat at neighboring tables and.....he was interested in my history. He was asking a lot of questions about me and my life in Hong Kong. After he got to know, that I was a German, all ice was broken and he told me about German roots among his ancestors. Bruce Lee had German ancestors? What a surprise, but that where his words and why should he talk to me about that, if it would not be true.

After some days with this repeating procedure, he told me, that he was through with his business meetings and invited me, to visit him on the set to his new movie (no title was mentioned) at Golden Harvest Studios.

I never followed his invitation, but still ended up on set for his new movie at Golden Harvest Studios. How? That, I will talk about in part 4 of my little column.

(by Piet Schweer, November 22, 2016)

Hi to all Bruce Lee fans in South Africa.

I kept you waiting for part 4. Sorry about that, but I travelled the Atlantic with Queen Mary 2 and are in the cold state of Minnesota right now.

I kept you in suspense (I hope) about me, not following Bruce Lee’s invitation to visit him at Golden Harvest Studios, but still ended up taking part in his movie "The Way of the Dragon".

One day, the filming of that movie was already on the way (Rome), my uncle invited all family members and friends for dinner at Jimmy´s Kitchen in Kowloon/HKG. We were seven people, amongst them, my cousin Aloha´s much older boyfriend. I had not seen him for some time, as he and my cousin were traveling a lot those days.

As conversation picked up, I found out, that he was engaged to play a part in the upcoming Bruce Lee movie. Filming at the Golden Harvest Studios was just about to start, so he had to show up there the next day for to play his part. He decided to take my cousin along and because I showed a lot of interest, invited me as well.

That gentleman, my cousin´s boyfriend, was Jon Benn.

Therefore, we all showed up at Golden Harvest Studios the next day. Being in Los Angeles the year before and visiting several studios over there in Hollywood, I can remember how disappointed I was upon the outer appearance of that premises. All looked more like a factory for furniture or alike. Mock ups here and there, piles of wood, only a few paved ways. Not what I expected, but if I learned something in Hong Kong, it is this: never judge by the outside, no person, no building, no company.

Jon Benn went into make up and prepared to play his part. My cousin Aloha was introduced to Bruce Lee (she seemed to know him already) and several other people on the set. She also already knew the cameraman, who was from Japan, the country my cousin grew up and spoke the language. Later I found out, that they all had dinner a couple of nights before. Just for the fun of it, they allowed her to play a mini-part in the movie. She is seen, when regular guests are entering the restaurant.

When I was introduced to Bruce Lee that morning, he did recognize me, as the letter writing guy from the Peninsula Hotel Lobby, who sat next to him for a couple of days and he remembered our chat. He did not realize, that I was at the set with Jon Benn and my cousin, as he thought, I was following his invitation. "You are just here at the right time" he said to me, "as we are in desperate need of some extras, who can play the italian villains". "As you do live in Hongkong, can you spare a couple of days and are you interested in some action shooting?", he asked me.
As our business was slow during the hot season and me being always interested in something new, I told him, that he could count on me. But somehow, I had the idea that he was talking about something to happen the next days or weeks.

I was so wrong and had no idea how fast Bruce Lee was not only in fighting, but also in thinking and in executing thoughts.

What happened next? You will find out in part 5 of my little column.

Piet Schweer’s 4 parts stories on Bruce Lee:

Photos of Piet Schweer in Way Of The Dragon:

 Respond to this message   

  • Bruce had German blood? English blood? - jkdragon on Jan 9, 2017, 10:20 AM
  • Great behind scene stories and Jon Ben's footage - PB on Jan 9, 2017, 2:56 PM
  • Great stories from Piet Schweer! NT - DK on Jan 9, 2017, 7:15 PM
  • Piet Schweer’s stories on Bruce Lee: “THE WAY I SAW IT” Part 5? - panttelis on Jan 10, 2017, 3:13 PM
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