Book title: Bruce Lee: A Life
Author: Matthew Polly
Publication year: 2018
Price: RM48 (paperback)
Everyone knows Bruce Lee as a kung fu superstar par excellence who made martial arts a worldwide phenomenon. He bridged the East-West gap and smashed long-held stereotypes of Asians and Asian-Americans.
Countless books have been written about him by authors who claim to have either known him personally or done extensive research and studies on the legendary martial artist cum movie superstar.
Nearly all of these books touched on kung fu and the various forms of self-defence advocated by the late martial arts great, including his world-acclaimed jeet kune do or ‘The way of the intercepting fist’, his silver screen exploits, his life as a child, and his family.
The fans’ perception of Lee is straightforward: he’s the greatest kicker and puncher — both on and off screen. But Matthew Polly’s biography on ‘Bruce Lee: A Life’ has changed this perception.
I knew of Polly’s book but I didn’t pay much attention to it as being a diehard fan of Lee, I have an awesome collection of books, magazines and DVDs on him.
But when a friend from Johor Bahru stopped over in Kuching and passed me Lee’s latest 600-plus biography, I thought I might as well read it.
What Polly revealed in his book was a shocker. I was shocked to the bone.
Lee was portrayed as a philandering playboy who cheated on his wife Linda Emery.
The author vividly exposes Lee’s trysts with actress Sharon Farrell and his womanising past. Actress Sharon Farrell makes no attempt to hide the kung fu star’s ‘sexploits’ with her.
Lee was apparently as talented in the bedroom as he was at martial arts and left Farrell feeling like he “took me to the moon and back and just turned me inside out” because he understood her body so well.
Polly quoted her further: “Bruce was the love of my life.”
Farrell was just one of Lee’s many conquests despite his marriage to Emery, the mother of son Brandon and daughter Shannon Lee.
Lee’s most famous conquest was Hong Kong star Betty Ting Pei who was with him in her bedroom when he died on July 20, 1973 at age 32. They both met on the set of ‘Way of the Dragon’.
Lee reportedly bought her a new Mercedes Benz as a gift.
But who would not want to have a fling with Lee. He was a ladies’ man; he had the body of an 18-year-old. Women were impressed by his chiselled abs and his agile kung fu moves and cha-cha dancing.
Polly even reveals that the star underwent circumcision to be more like an American.
Farrell claims she met Lee while working on a movie set in 1969. Lee walked up to her in the MGM studio parking lot and charmed her into bed.
“He was the first man I had ever been with who had such a beautiful body.
Those abs, his muscles were so defined, it was as if they were chiselled. ruce was the most incredible lover I have ever been with; he was so knowledgeable about a woman’s body,” she reveals.
The author also says Bruce had an affair with Nora Miao, his co-star on ‘Way of the Dragon’. But she never confirmed, nor denied it.
When actress Nancy Kwan, a friend, confronted him, Lee just shrugged it off saying, “Oh, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a fling. I’ll get rid of her. She doesn’t mean anything to me. I have plenty of girls.”
Bruce’s younger brother Robert Lee is also mentioned in the book. He reveals that Bruce liked to have affairs with beautiful, flashy girls, but he married “a quiet, sensitive girl who knew how to listen and would let him have his way”.
Polly describes Emery more diplomatically as the perfect partner for a brilliant, volatile and extroverted man.
Lee was once said to have said to his wife: “If I ever had an affair with a woman, it would be something that happened spontaneously. I would never plan or decide to have a mistress.
“All that matters to me is you and the children. Infidelity has no real bearing on a marriage. Fleeting attraction for another female has no significance on a marriage.”
In his first year of college at the University of Washington Bruce fell in love with a Japanese-American sophomore, Amy Sanbo, a dancer, and had an on-off relationship with her that lasted two years.
“When I perform it’s almost orgasmic. It is very sexual and Bruce was like that too. I’m horribly addicted to talent and Bruce was a kinetic genius,” said Sanbo.
The book reveals that Lee asked Sanbo to marry him but she refused and broke things off in 1963, leaving Bruce devastated.
After his split with Sanbo, Lee met Thordis Brandt, a blonde from West Germany and one of the glamour girls of the 1960s and had a fling with her.
Said Brandt : “He had a magnetism that was indescribable. Bruce was very quiet and shy but could be very aggressive if he wanted to be. He was a show-off and always wanted to flaunt his body.”
Their relationship lasted a few months until Brandt’s on and off lover actor James Arness found out. They later broke off.
‘Bruce Lee: A Life’ is good only for those who would wish to know about his bedroom exploits than his exploits in the movie and martial arts world.
I recommend it to all Bruce Lee fans.