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Bruce Lee documentary honors legend in Year of the Dragon

30 p.m. Feb. 9 and at 7

Martial artist. Philosopher. Actor. Innovator. Little Dragon (Li Xiaolong). These are some of the words people around the world have used to describe Bruce Lee.

The documentary “I Am Bruce Lee” will be screened at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and at 7:40 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Gateway Film Center. The film was co-produced by Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter.

Director Pete McCormack, who also directed “Facing Ali,” a documentary of Muhammad Ali’s life, said he intended for both films to capture the essence of these athletes in the most accurate way.     

“Those two are, arguably, the two most iconic athletes ever, both in a sense of transcending race, nationality and their respective sports, and both rethinking the way we think of boxing and martial arts, respectively,” McCormack said in an email.

To create this documentary, McCormack interviewed Lee’s family members, students and other celebrities in order to develop a “three-dimensional” portrait.

“The search was for people who knew Bruce intimately, who worked with him, who were inspired by him and who have studied him, even academically,” McCormack said. “The goal was to capture Bruce’s essence as a human being first, and as an icon as a side-effect of that spirit.”

Lee’s “spirit” is recognized in American and Chinese culture, said Chunjin Gao, a second-year in business.

Through martial art cinema and his own practice, Lee is at least in part responsible for the spread of martial arts into the United States. Lee developed a new form of kung fu, Jeet Kune Do, that focused on using minimal movement combined with fast-moving force in order to defeat one’s opponent.

“In my opinion, he is a special man who learned about Chinese culture (and) developed and spread it to the rest of the world,” Gao said. “The most impressive thing I’ve found from him is he is a determined man. That spirit lead him to success.”

Michael McKeegan, a fifth-year in hospitality management, agreed.

“He’s the Clint Eastwood of martial arts,” McKeegan said. “He made martial arts cool in the ‘70s.”

Tickets are available online at www.iambruceleemovie.com, www.movietickets.com and at the Gateway Film Center box office.

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