Bruce Lee is an international icon that helped put Hong Kong on the movie map but fans believe the Chinese territory is not doing enough to honour him on the 40th anniversary of his death.
Fans and scholars are attending anniversary events this weekend including art gallery shows, exhibitions and even street graffiti but they believe the government is unwilling to fully embrace his legacy.
Many are angry about the lack of a permanent memorial for the star and disappointed over failed negotiations two years ago to buy and restore Lee’s former mansion to create a museum devoted to him.
Wong Yiu-keung, chairman of Hong Kong’s Bruce Lee fan club, said of the city’s government: “They have always used him when promoting the city abroad but have never done anything in honour of him.”
Some suggest his spirit of youthful rebellion and willingness to fight oppressors may have spooked city leaders prone to second-guessing the government in Beijing.
Lo Wai-luk, an associate professor in the Academy of Film at Hong Kong Baptist University, said: “The Hong Kong government or the people on top of the governing body are not thinking, first of all, in terms of Hong Kong people’s mindset.
“They think of how to do something to please the main Chinese government, or not to violate what they think Beijing likes.”
Lee, who was born in San Francisco but raised in Hong Kong, died at the height of his fame due to an allergic reaction to painkillers at the age of 32.
His last film, Enter the Dragon, was released six days after his death and became his most popular movie.
The Hong Kong government teamed up with the Bruce Lee Foundation to put together an exhibition to showcase the late star’s life from his famous yellow tracksuit he wore in the movie Game of Death, to his writings and drawings.
Bruce Lee: Kung Fu. Art. Life opened on Saturday and has more than 600 items on display, including photos, costumes, videos and even a 3.5 metre statue.
His daughter Shannon Lee, who was four when her father died, hopes the display will “help show a more complete picture” by showing Lee’s family side and the hard work he put into making his movies.
“I think a lot of people see the final product up on screen and they go, ‘Oh, there’s a talented guy,’ but they don’t see all the effort that went into it,” she said.
The government film archive is also producing documentaries of his life and new prints of some of Lee’s films.