Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter, is suing a Chinese fast food chain for $30M. Real Kungfu has been using an image that greatly resembles Bruce Lee since 2004. Their restaurants display the Bruce-a-like in a yellow jumpsuit, of the type associated with his final movie production.
Shannon Lee owns intellectual property rights to the martial arts movie legend’s image, care of Bruce Lee Enterprises. The South China Morning Post reports that she “asked the food chain to immediately stop using her father’s image, clarify for 90 consecutive days that it has nothing to do with Bruce Lee, and pay compensation of 210 million yuan (US$30 million).” This info was found on sina.com.
Replying via the Weibo social media platform, Real Kungfu state they have permission from Chinese authorities, “obtained after a rigorous screening by the national trademark agency”. They add, “We are baffled that after so many years we are now being sued”.
Real Kungfu started operating in 1990 and grew into a business worth 5 billion yuan + ($714,714,500.00). It has over 600 outlets, which prominently feature the controversial logo. BBC News writes, “The case is likely to be watched closely as the Chinese government has in recent years promised to increase protections for intellectual property rights.”
— Reuters (@Reuters) December 27, 2019
Before his untimely end, Bruce Lee was a worldwide sensation and went on to become an action movie institution. He starred in classic movies such as Enter The Dragon (1973) and founded Jeet Kune Do (Cantonese for “The way of the intercepting fist”), a ground breaking martial arts philosophy seen by many as a forerunner of modern MMA (Mixed Martial Arts).
He died at the age of 32 from a cerebral edema, or excess fluid in the brain. He’d suffered from this 2 months earlier in May 1973, but doctors managed to stop the swelling. In July he was given the painkiller Equagesic by actress Betty Ting Pei after saying he had a headache. He reportedly suffered an allergic reaction to this which proved to be the end.
He was part way through filming of Game of Death with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The movie was eventually completed and released in 1978. Kim Tai-jong and Yuen Biao doubled for Lee, and the finished product also included Chuck Norris and Sammo Hung among its cast. Like Bruce, Shannon is an actor and martial artist in addition to her business interests.
The image of Bruce Lee in a yellow jumpsuit is an iconic image, with the original selling for $100,000 in 2013. Quentin Tarantino tributed the look by cladding Uma Thurman in yellow for his Kill Bill Movies in 2003 and 2004.
Tarantino then fell foul of Shannon Lee this year by including a fictional version of Bruce in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, played by actor Mike Moh. Variety reports on the movie’s Chinese distribution, saying it “was originally scheduled for a theatrical bow in the country on Oct. 25, but was put on hold reportedly after Shannon Lee… filed a complaint to China’s National Film Administration objecting to the film’s depiction of her late father.” Other factors may have contributed to the delay, such as the film’s level of violence.
The issue concerns the boastfulness and arrogance shown by Moh’s Lee. “I really do think [‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’] did a disservice to him,” Shannon Lee commented. “I think it did a disservice to Asian actors and I think that it was really a shame… I would imagine he (Tarantino) has no love lost for me or wants to speak to me. But I’m always open for a conversation.”
Meanwhile RealKungfu are preparing a full response to Lee’s statement.