Ever since his passing in 1973, marital arts legend Bruce Lee’s legacy has lasted long into the future — immortalised by fighting game characters, pop culture references, and even parodies. One of the darker bits of this legacy, however, are the many conspiracy theories surrounding Lee’s death at the age of 32.
Aiming to dispel some of the mystery, fellow marital artist-turned-actor Jackie Chan spoke up on the Sway’s Universe podcast — waving aside the wild theories that have surrounded Lee’s legacy over the years.
“No no no,” said Chan, who is now pushing 70. “My boss [went] to pick him up, and they sent him to the hospital. That’s in the public. In the Hong Kong Google. Just a normal dying in somebody’s house. That’s all.”
Lee died a month before the release of iconic martial arts movie Enter the Dragon, which secured his place as an international icon. While working on dubbing sessions for the film, Lee underwent a sudden collapse — much to his team’s shock. The actor was then rushed to Hong Kong Baptist Hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with a cerebral edema — a condition where fluid buildup occurs around the brain.
Later that year, Lee breathed his last when visiting the apartment of Betty Ting Pei, a Taiwanese actress who claimed to have an affair with Lee. After complaining about a headache, Lee was given the painkiller Equagesic as a remedy — and never woke up, dying of an allergic reaction to the drug.
The wild rumours surrounding Lee’s death would only pick up after his producer Raymond Chow, told the Hong Kong press that Bruce died at home with his wife Linda. This effort to cover up Lee’s affair led to an even greater scandal when discovered — with Chinese media looping in everything from ancient family curses to assassination attempts by Chinese crime lords carried out by Ting’s hand.
Jackie Chan, however, thinks otherwise.
The pair of martial arts legends would come to define multiple generations of kung-fu movies, and even had a short history together as performers. Chan got some of his early breaks as a stuntman in Lee’s films — leading to a unique encounter back in 1972 for Fist of Fury, which was Lee’s second film.
As one of the nameless goons that attack Lee, Chan ended up getting hit across the face by accident during a shot. As soon as the camera cut, Lee ran over to the young Chan to apologise — a moment that the latter took advantage of, albeit wholesomely.
“He runs to me and lifts me up. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” explained Chan, speaking to CBC Television. And, actually, I’m not in pain anymore because [I’m a] young guy, very tough. But for something, I don’t know why, I pretend it’s very painful. “Oh, ow, ow,” I just want Bruce Lee to hold me for as long as he can.”
At the time, Chan was just nineteen, and Lee was in the last year of his life. Sadly, the senior wing-chun prodigy would never get the chance to star alongside Chan — but it’s safe to say that he definitely inspired Jackie Chan to rise up, and dominate the world of martial arts action films for three whole decades.
Lead Image: Sway’s Universe