Brandon Lee is the son of the famous martial artist master
. Brandon was born to parents Bruce and Linda Lee on 1st February 1965 in Oakland, California. He is also the brother of famous martial artist actress, Shannon Lee, and grandson to the famous Cantonese Opera Singer named Lee Hoi-Chuen. However, immediately after his birth in 1965, within three weeks, his grandfather passed away. Due to Bruce Lee’s budding acting career, the family moved to Los Angeles when Brandon was a mere three-month-old. But after a few years of stay in Los Angeles, the family had to transfer to Hong Kong, their native land, in 1971. This move was a result of diminishing movie offers for Bruce. The relocation to Hong Kong proved helpful for the family as Bruce was able to score three more movies here until his untimely death. Bruce Lee, Brandon’s father, died in the prime of his life in 1973 at the young age of 32 due to severe cerebral oedema.
After Bruce’s death, his wife, Linda along with her two children, Brandon and Shannon moved back to the United States of America. Here, they lived in Seattle for a few years which was Brandon’s mother’s hometown. Later, they moved to Los Angeles where Brandon grew up. Brandon had a varied and diverse ancestry. His father was of Chinese (Cantonese) and European (German) descent. His mother had a Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, English and Irish ancestry. As such, Brandon had blonde hair at birth but later changed into a brunette with brown hair. Living under the shadow of his father was always a herculean task for Brandon. Moreover, the several moving’s also affected his formative years.
As a child and later in his teenage as well, Brandon was a troubled young man. He was removed from two separate high schools in his adolescence, both a result of inappropriate behaviour. The schools were Chadwick School and Bishop Montgomery School. As such, he had to take the GED qualification test which he cleared at the age of 18, in 1983. He then took up his graduation at the arts college, Emerson College in Boston Massachusetts. Here, he graduated in Theatre and Martial Arts, much like his father. Although Brandon was minimally inclined to education, he discovered his passion for acting here only. Also, the majority of training in martial arts that Brandon received came from only two people- Dan Inosanto and Richard Bustillo. Brandon is trained in the forms of Muay Thai, Shaolin Kung-Fu, Wing Chun, and Jeet Kune Do. Both of them had been his father, Bruce Lee’s top students, and closest friends.
After a year in Massachusetts, Brandon moved to New York City to pursue his studies in acting at the famous Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. After finishing his acting studies at the Strasberg Institute, Brandon moved back to the city of Los Angeles in 1985. Here he started working as a script reader at the Ruddy Morgan Productions. He also received his first uncredited role at this production company in the movie “Crime Killer” in 1985. After that, the casting director Lyn Stalmaster asked Brandon to deliver for the role of “Chung Wang” and Brandon scored his first credited role in the movie “Kung Fu: The Movie.” The movie was an extension of the television series “Kung Fu” and was telecasted on ABC on February 1, 1986, which was also the occasion of Brandon’s twenty-first birthday. In the same year of 1985, Brandon got his first key role as the lead in the Hong Kong film “Legacy of Rage” which was a crime thriller.
The movie was directed under the aegis of Ronny Yu and was shot completely in Cantonese. It was also the first and only film that Brandon recorded in Hong Kong. Following this, in 1987, Brandon also played a part in the pilot of the television series “Kung Fu: The next generation” and later in a cameo role in the TV series “Ohara” in 1988. In that very year, Brandon also signed on for a B-Grade English Action Film “Laser Mission”. Filmed in South Africa, it released in Europe in the year 1990. Brandon Lee’s official American debut happened in the year 1991 with the movie “Showdown in Little Tokyo” where he starred alongside
. Following the success of the picture, he signed a deal with the production house 20th Century Fox for multiple films. Consequently, his first lead role happened with them in the movie “Rapid Fire” and he was slated to shoot two more films with the company. In 1993, Brandon got the offer to star as his father in his Life story “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story”. But he turned down the role due to understandable personal reasons. Simultaneously, he accepted the role of the protagonist in the movie “The Crow” in 1994. Personally, Brandon was a troubled child and young man. He had difficulty coping with his father’s legacy and the continuous moving’s which led to him being a tough teen in his formative years. However, he was a great elder brother to Shannon.
Once she was arrested for underage joyriding. However, Brandon handled the entire matter perfectly and also counseled Shannon and elucidated the good and the bad of the situation. He played the part of a surrogate-father in her life and she admitted to the fact that if he had lived to the day, Brandon would’ve been the one to lead her down the aisle in her wedding ceremony. In the year 1990, Brandon first met Eliza Hutton and shortly fell in love with her. Their first meeting was at the headquarters of 20th Century Fox in director Renny’s office. She was working as Renny’s assistant at the time. Brandon was so in love with her, that in early 1991 they moved in together and were engaged by October 1992. They were slated to get married in April 1993 at Ensenada, Mexico. The wedding was supposed to take place a week after Brandon finished filming for “The Crow.” However, as fate would have it, the wedding never took place as Brandon died on the sets of the movie, few days before the wrap-up. Brandon’s untimely and accidental death was the biggest news at the time. The shooting for his movie was taking place in North Carolina.
While shooting for a scene wherein Brandon’s character walks into his apartment and finds his on-screen fiancée being molested and beaten up by some goons, his character was supposed to be shot in the stomach using fake propguns. However, due to some accidental faults and misconceptions within the team, Brandon was shot in the stomach, and the bullet reached his spine. Consequently, Brandon was rushed to the hospital at New Hanover Regional Medical Centre in Wilmington, North Carolina. The doctors spent six hours of extensive surgery on him but all in vain. Eventually, he was proclaimed dead on 31st March 1993. His body was first flown to Jacksonville, North Carolina to conduct an autopsy report and then to Seattle, Washington for his burial. The funeral was a private affair attended only by the Lee family, Eliza Hutton and her family. Brandon was laid down next to his father at the Lake View Cemetery in the spot that his mother had earmarked for herself. His last movie, “The Crow” released after his death in May 1994. The film was almost complete at the time of Brandon’s demise with only a week’s shooting left. The remaining scenes were then shot with the help of a stunt double for Brandon and with special effects to make them look alike.
The successful completion of this film was possible only because of the support of Brandon’s mother Linda and his fiancée Eliza Hutton. They both wanted Brandon’s legacy to continue and worked with the production team of the movie for its conclusion. The film went on to be a great success and grossed 50 million dollars at the box office. It also generated a cult following that kept going for several years to come. Brandon’s death at the age of 28 and his father, Bruce Lee’s at the age of 32 fuelled the theory of the “Lee family Curse”. Rumours and theories flew that the Lee family is cursed for untimely deaths. A theory also originated that the deaths only happened before the movie that would otherwise have attested to be the pivotal point in the success of the Lee men’s career.