Today would have been the 49th birthday of Brandon Lee, martial artist and actor best remembered for being the lead role in The Crow, a film which was marked with tragedy when Lee died of an accidental gunshot wound during filming. Lee was also the son of the legendary monarch of the martial arts, Bruce Lee.
Born on February 1, 1965 in Oakland, CA, Brandon Bruce Lee’s life has been wrapped in a sort of shrouded mysterious enigma ever since his fateful death back on March 31, 1993. Like his father, Brandon Lee died young, under unorthodox circumstances and was also on the precipice of super stardom as an actor and practitioner of the martial arts. That unfortunately never got attained for him and in the wake of his death, Brandon Lee didn’t become the kind of iconic almost mythical figure that his father became in the wake of his passing in 1973, but instead, the younger Lee became a sort of footnote to the whole Hollywood pool of unfortunate, work-related deaths. But make no mistake, Lee was on a path to put himself as a successor to some of the empire his father had built; films like Showdown in Little Tokyo and Rapid Fire were starting to put Lee in the driver’s seat as an action star of these kind of purposely bombastically cinema potboilers, where dialogue and narrative took a back seat to the stunning visuals of the martial arts on screen, and he seemed poised to become the next action star, like a Van Damme or Steven Seagal.
The fact that The Crow became a hit in the wake of his death, probably partly helped by the publicity it developed for the film albeit negative from Lee’s death during production, was due to the 28 28-year-old actor’s range in full force, most people discovering him for the first time and most people utterly dazzled how the DNA from his father easily transcended into him. Like his dad, he liked to take risks in his art and craft; he once stated how important it was to live life and subscribe to a tenet of doing just that, putting oneself in situations where they don’t know how the outcome will happen. It was a coterie of self-opinions within himself that was made ever so more ironic by the spontaneous tragedy of how his death occurred.
Brandon Lee’s memory should remain anything but a curious anomaly, a trivia question when one recollects about macabre, senseless and tragic Hollywood deaths, like a Sal Mineo or a Jayne Mansfield or Carole Lombard, but it should ring with life as a man who in his short 28 years of life, upheld the mantle of what his father had put on the plate and tried to resurrect that comet in its brightest force. For that alone, the memory of Brandon Lee should have a spotlight attached to it, for quite some time.
This year, on the eve of Brandon Lee’s birthday, which coincided with Chinese New Year for 2014, the late actor’s sister, Shannon, posted to their father Bruce’s official Facebook page about her brother’s birth and the new year:
My brother Brandon was born on Feb 1st in 1965 which was Chinese New Year’s eve that year making him a Dragon rather than a Snake! So as we celebrate the year of the Horse, let me take a moment to wish all of you many blessings for the year of the Horse and wish my big brother, Brandon, a happy birthday. I miss and love you.
UPDATE: February 1, 2015: This year marks Brandon Lee’s 50th birthday. Below is what his sister posted to Facebook for the occasion.