Bruce Lee Talks Kung Fu in Vintage Footage on Green Hornet Set

The martial arts legend talked, taught, and stuck with kung fu even when the original director of his first martial arts film was far from impressed.

Bruce Lee is arguably one of the most, if not most, highly respected, greatest, and celebrated martial artists that ever lived. Many can recall that long before he kicked his way onto the big screen, Lee played Asian valet and sidekick Kato on the 1966 ABC program The Green Hornet. Even though the action series only lasted one season, it was the start of an albeit short but storied career for the movie icon who inspired others like actor James Coburn and NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to follow in his fighting footsteps. Lee is also recognized as the founder of his own martial arts style, Jeet Kune Do.


In a video posted to Twitter by the official Bruce Lee account and managed by his daughter Shannon, the late star is seen riding a bicycle which features a customized plate bearing his name. When asked about kung fu, he explains that it is a Chinese martial art form from which others like karate and jiujutsu are derived and is taught at his school in Oakland.

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There Was One Person Who Did Not See the Vision and It Cost Him His Job

In The Green Hornet series, Bruce Lee starred alongside Van Williams (the Green Hornet) as crime-fighting partner. Though he was viewed as one of the show’s biggest appeals, Lee was paid far less than his co-stars. The actor was originally paid $400 per week, whereas Williams received $2000. By the time the studio agreed to increase Lee’s salary to $550 it nearly didn’t matter as the show got canceled before there could be a season 2. Though not right away and with a few television appearances in between, this led to Lee’s venturing into the world of martial arts films which are now regarded as classics.

Lee’s first leading role in a major (martial arts) film is 1971’s The Big Boss (originally titled Fists of Fury in America). Wu Chia-Hsiang, the original director, grew frustrated with Lee’s on-set performance and eventually decided that his kung fu wasn’t up to par. Wu insisted to Golden Harvest founder Raymond Chow that Lee “can’t fight” and went so far as to nickname the actor “Three-Leg Lee” because of his assumption that Lee only knew three kicks. Wu argued that Golden Harvest had been “swindled” into hiring Lee. Raymond Chow disagreed, took the actor’s side regarding his proficiency in kung fu and replaced Wu with director Lo Wei.

Since Bruce Lee’s tragic and sudden death in 1973, he remains a pop culture icon thanks to his fight scenes and images.

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