Hotel to become Bruce Lee memorial
The house at 41 Cumberland Road in Kowloon Tong district may escape the notice of passers-by if it weren't for a sign Love Hotel. It is a far cry from when the building was the home of kung fu icon Bruce Lee.entertainment Updated: Feb 24, 2010 13:12 IST
The rundown house at 41 Cumberland Road in Hong Kong's quiet Kowloon Tong district might escape the notice of passers-by if it weren't for a sign signalling that it is a "Love Hotel". Rooms are offered for rent by the hour, with a discount rate of 205 Hong Kong dollars (25 US) buying amorous couples three hours in a tatty room off a narrow hallway decorated with a poster of a topless blonde.
It is a far cry from when the building was the home of kung fu icon Bruce Lee in the years before his untimely death in 1973 at the age of 32.
"The house has definitely been altered," said Shannon Lee, the actor's daughter, who recalled snickering when she learned about the home's love hotel status in her mid-teens. In glaring contrast to its current appearance, the now 40-year-old Lee remembers a Japanese-style pond out front, pets running around and plenty of exercise space for her father.
"I have very fond memories of it - my father definitely valued his privacy and there was space for him to work out and the kids to run around." The fact that guests walk in the footsteps of the kung fu star might have faded into the mists of time had it not been for fans who rallied behind a plan to turn the hotel into a Lee memorial.
Following a public uproar, billionaire owner Yu Pang-lin agreed to cancel plans to sell the property, which he says is worth 100 million Hong Kong dollars, and instead donate it to honour Lee's legacy.
Yu has said the home should be renovated to include a museum, library, a cinema and martial arts area.
Others, including Bruce Lee Club chairman Wong Yiu-keung, want the original floor plan preserved so visitors can imagine how it looked when the actor lived there. "It should be a memorial house. After all it's his former residence," Wong said.
Lee - who was credited with catapulting the martial arts film genre into the mainstream with films including
Fists of Fury
and the posthumously released
Enter the Dragon
- died after a severe reaction to pain medication.
His widow, now living in the US, has provided a rough blueprint of the home's original layout to help restoration efforts. "My mom is definitely behind it," Shannon Lee said.
"I'm really in favour of (the memorial). It could be great for Hong Kong and great for my father and his legacy. I think the primary goal should be to preserve the house as much as possible to its original condition.
"The draw of this space was that it was his home," she added. "That makes it very unique." A local design contest ended last month, but the memorial's final look, building costs, who will pay them and when it opens remain unclear. The tourism board is hoping the attraction can draw visitors from inside and outside the city, and boost Hong Kong's hard-hit film industry.
A statue of Lee sits on Hong Kong's Avenue of Stars, but the daily
South China Morning Post
has described the lack of a more significant memorial to the Hong Kong-raised hero as a travesty.