Bruce Lee has remarkable staying power. Forty years after his untimely death, he’s still celebrated as a charismatic and influential lethal weapon. Remember how Pelé ushered in America’s soccer craze? Bruce did the same for kung fu. For those of us who came of age in the 70’s, he was Evel Knievel, the Fonz, and Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky rolled into one.
His star qualities were in place long before those rock hard muscles. Take a look at this clip from The Kid (aka Xi Lu Xiang, Kid Cheung, and My Son A-Chang), a 1950 Cantonese drama based on Kiddy Cheung, a popular and socially conscious comic strip of the 40s. The 10-year-old Lee brings irresistable Little Rascals-esque panache to his portrayal of a wily, slum-dwelling orphan in the thrall of a gangster named Flash Blade Lee. The part provides ample opportunity to swagger and strut, but just when things are threatening to turn physical, the Little Dragon is bested by pencil-necked character actor Yee Chau-Sui, who shames him for falling in with the local toughs. Lee upholds his reputation by pulling a knife, but the pose is more than he can maintain.
Watch the complete film here.