/Oscar-Winning Director Ang Lee Casts Son Mason Lee In Ambitious Bruce Lee Biopic

Oscar-Winning Director Ang Lee Casts Son Mason Lee In Ambitious Bruce Lee Biopic

Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee cast his son Mason Lee as the lead in “Bruce Lee.” An ambitious biopic of the iconic Chinese American martial artist and actor, it’ll be written by Oscar-nominated “Capote” screenwriter Dan Futterman, according to Variety.

Previous attempts to cinematically chronicle Bruce Lee’s life spurred mixed results, as “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” (1993) and “Birth of the Dragon” (2016) respectively received 74% and 23% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Ang Lee is nonetheless determined, however, to properly honor the action star.

“I feel compelled to tell the story of this brilliant, unique human being who yearned for belonging, possessed tremendous power in a 135-pound frame, and who, through tireless hard work, made impossible dreams into reality,” he told Variety in a statement Wednesday.

The director told the outlet that Bruce Lee was “accepted as neither fully American nor fully Chinese” but served as an undeniable “bridge between East and West” and “revolutionized both the martial arts and action cinema.” Despite racist Hollywood hurdles, Bruce Lee subverted stereotypes and became a film legend.

While he scored his first major role in the 1966 TV series “The Green Hornet,” many executives at the time felt U.S. audiences weren’t ready for an Asian lead. They even cast David Carradine as a Shaolin Monk in the 1972 TV show “Kung Fu” over Bruce Lee, according to Deadline.

Mason Lee (left) previously starred in his father Ang Lee's (right) "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk."
Mason Lee (left) previously starred in his father Ang Lee’s (right) “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.”

Michael Tran via Getty Images

He ultimately returned to Hong Kong where films like “Fist of Fury,” “The Way of the Dragon” and “Enter the Dragon” made him an international superstar. Bruce Lee tragically died at 32 years old in 1973, however, before the last film was released in the United States.

“‘Bruce Lee’ is a longtime passion project for Ang and a deeply emotional story depicting the triumphs and conflicts of one of the foremost real life action heroes of our time,” Elizabeth Gabler, head of Sony’s 3000 Pictures studio, told Variety in Wednesday’s statement.

Mason Lee has yet to prove himself as an on-screen martial artist, but established himself as an actor in his own right — despite starring in his dad’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.” Ang Lee himself, of course, made martial arts Oscar-worthy with “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

“He didn’t want his children to have such a life,” Mason Lee told the South China Morning Post in 2021. “But he eventually supported me. After seeing my films, he will be frank with me, praising the good performances and damning the bad ones. I look forward to working with him on set again.”

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