What follows is my new updated book review of the Bruce Lee biography, "King Dragon", written by the late Norman Borine. Norman, as many fans will know, was the creator of the famous "World of Bruce Lee" museum, totaling 15,000 square feet, which contained hundreds of items all relating to the life of Bruce Lee.
Credit must go to Norman's nephew, Bill Borine, who has done a first class job in updating and expanding the book in tribute to Norman and to commemorate the 35th anniversary of Bruce's passing. I had the pleasure of assisting Bill by including more factual information and by checking the manuscript. Therefore, I was extremely looking forward to receiving this new edition.
I am absolutely overjoyed to report that I was in no way left disappointed. The book looks amazing and is a glowing testament to the remarkable life of Bruce Lee.
The first photos we see are of Norman with Bruce's mother, Grace, who he became very close friends with, as well as photos of him with a teenaged Brandon Lee and Bruce's younger brother, Robert.
Anecdotes from Grace and Robert about Bruce's early years in Hong Kong are amusing and reveal an honest account of the real human being. You'll soon realize why Bruce's nickname was "Never Sits Still." Ever the imaginative, creative extrovert, Bruce was made for the movies, a complete natural as soon as he set foot in front of the camera. Bruce possessed that most important star quality - Charisma!
There are many wonderful moments in this book. The chapter about Bruce's first date with Linda at the Space Needle in Seattle and up to their marriage less than a year later was a fascinating insight into their mutual and true love for one another.
Another interesting aspect was Norman's experiences of attending Bruce Lee conventions all over the world, which reveal the enormous impact that Bruce had on so many. A personal favourite of mine was the chapter where close friend and Bruce Lee student, Dan Inosanto, talks so honestly and passionately about the real man. Norman provides a more thoughtful and clearer understanding of the man behind the image than what you'd normally read.
Other wonderful moments include Steve McQueen presenting Brandon with a puppy who was named Riff. And of course, there's the flipside, the not-so-wonderful moment in Bruce's life when he had his back injury. Bruce finally returns back to Hong Kong. He signs a contract and does two movies for Raymond Chow's newly formed film company, Golden Harvest, which went on to smash all box office records.
With the unbelievable success of these two films Bruce had revolutionized the entire Oriental film industry. He definitely was "King Dragon" now! He started his own film company, Concord Productions, and at this point was the most sought-after movie star in the world. Even the other King, Elvis Presley, wanted to do a movie with Bruce. The book explains all this and so much more with great thought and factual insights.
The quotes by Bruce Lee that start each chapter contain very deep meaning and can be applied to everyone's life. This reveals another side to Bruce, the philosopher and teacher of life. This book is packed with hundreds of photos, which will satisfy every fan. I enjoyed the wide variety used with captions and the many excellent ones that feature the "World of Bruce Lee" museum.
On final thoughts - the reader will discover many new stories, quotes, and facts about Bruce Lee whether young or old. I honestly can't recommend this book enough to all fans and admirers of the amazing Bruce Lee. I loved it, a truly excellent book on so many different levels. So what are you waiting for?
1/ Can you please start by telling me about your first experience of Bruce Lee and the affect that it had on you?
Norman Borine: When "Enter The Dragon" first appeared at the famous Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, my wife, Alexandra, and I owned a Greeting Card shop called "The Athena" which was very successful. Within a few days we were approached by a salesman who showed us a large poster-size photo of Bruce Lee, asking if we would like to be first in the area to exhibit and sell it. We questioned him as to who the man was and he replied with details. Alexandra suggested that I go to the next showing of Enter The Dragon, then return with my report and that the salesman return next morning for our decision. Well, I left soon afterward and received the shock of my life. Upon entering the theatre I glanced at a table containing a stack of large photos bearing the name BRUCE LEE. And why the shock? Because, the previous night I had experienced an amazing dream pertaining to the man in the photo. I stumbled into the theatre, and seated myself in the center of the crowd to witness the most amazing film I had seen in my entire life. At the end, I was physically unable to leave my seat, so I remained to see the entire film again. Even after the second time, it was difficult getting up to leave. When I returned to our shop and explained it to Alexandra, she suggested we close the shop early and have dinner, then go and see the film together. Well, we did, and the same thing happened: we saw it twice, so it ended up with me seeing it 4 times that day!
2/ Your new book 'King Dragon' is an excellent piece of work with many new insights in to Bruce's remarkable life. After reading the book it appears to me that you have been good friends with many of Bruce's family over the years. Can you please tell me about your own experiences and thoughts about any of the following people?
A) Linda Lee
Norman Borine : Linda and I became close friends from our first meeting at World Of Bruce Lee #1, when she presented me with the famous pair of nunchakus Bruce had made...just one of many such gifts given to me during the many years of friendship.
B) Grace Lee
Norman Borine : Grace and I became very close friends upon our first meeting, often spending time at her home, and many times sharing lunch or dinning in Pasadena. She, too, gave me personal items belonging to Bruce, along with stories few people were privileged to hear.
C) Brandon Lee
Norman Borine : In reading "King Dragon" you will come across photos of Brandon visiting The World Of Bruce Lee Museum in Hollywood. Aside from that plus attending the Premier of Game Of Death, together, we were simply friends apart.
D) Robert Lee
Norman Borine : At various times Robert and Grace and I enjoyed meals at local restaurants, but the most special time Robert and I had a connection was on one of my 3 speaking engagements in London when I invited him to fly over for the occasion. Such trips were, of course, memories never to be forgotten.
3/ You are famous for creating the amazing 'World of Bruce Lee Museum' which was a huge achievement and an excellent tribute to Bruce. Can you please tell me about the background and formation of the museum?
Norman Borine : I'm wondering if you have ever seen or owned a copy of The World Of Bruce Lee Museum magazines - perhaps the most special ever published. If not, you might search out an opportunity ( there are 2 separate issues). The main one was located just off Hollywood and Vine and was 3 stories; totally 15,000 sq. ft. - all related to Bruce. Hundreds of items on exhibit, plus 2 work-out studios plus a studio for movies.
4/ Can you please tell me about some of the personal items of Bruce Lee that you displayed at the museum?
Norman Borine : Impossible to name and describe, but if you can get a copy of the magazines I mentioned, you'll be amazed at the many photos.
5/ What are your own fondest memories of the museum, the people you have met and of your time and work in the Bruce Lee World?
Norman Borine : Truly impossible for even an attempt to do it in words. Again, keep looking for copies of The World Of Bruce Lee magazines. The memories would require a book!
6/ What is your own personal favorite story about Bruce Lee?
Norman Borine : The story about the midnight showing of "Fists Of Fury: (The Big Boss). See pages 148 and 149 in King Dragon.
7/ Can you please tell me about your involvement in promoting and attending the premiere of 'The Game of Death'?
Norman Borine : At the time I was under contract at Columbia Pictures they held a meeting and decided to put me in charge of all matters relating to Game Of Death. I had my own office plus a special room filled with photos and props where I held a meeting every morning to discuss all plans as they were added and changed. Much of my time was spent on the phone speaking not only to people in Hollywood, but all across America as well as many foreign countries. It was truly exciting as it grew and changed right up to the evening of the Premier of the film. On that particular evening we were picked up by a huge Limousine and driven to the Theatre. Thousands of people lined the boulevard as we arrived amidst the cheering crowd and took our places on a stage, each stepping, one by one, up to a microphone to say a few words to the crowd: Linda, Grace, Brandon, Shannon and myself, prior to entering the theatre for the exciting evening, all seated together. As we prepared to leave, we were surprised to find such a crowd waiting outside that a second showing was necessary to satisfy those who had not been able to attend the first.
8/ Do you have any idea why they didn't use Bruce's original story and never released all of the footage that Bruce filmed for 'The Game of Death'?
Norman Borine : I'm sorry, but I still cannot reply to this due to the many different reports given out.
9/ What are your thoughts and opinions on the original script for 'The Silent Flute' and in what ways does it differ from 'The Circle of Iron' released version?
Norman Borine : Sorry to be forced to give the same answer as to the above question.
10/ Why did Bruce close down all of his Jeet Kune Do schools as he informed Black Belt magazine in January 1970?
Norman Borine : No knowledge to this.
11/ Can you please tell me who was the student with Bruce the day he injured his back performing a weights exercise?
Norman Borine : I have questioned so many friends. Again, no answer.
12/ Do you know of any future films that Bruce had lined up to do before his tragic death?
Norman Borine : From Linda, as well as various friends of Bruce, I have actually heard many ideas related to possible future plans Bruce had, but it seems from all I have heard that no definite plans had truly been reached.
13/ In your book on the fateful day of July 20th, 1973 it informs the reader that Bruce was first taken by ambulance to Baptist Hospital and after no success then finally taken to Queens Elizabeth Hospital where he was eventually pronounced dead. All of the July 20th accounts I have read make no mention of Bruce going to Baptist Hospital that night. Do you know if this information is correct?
Norman Borine : I can only report to you that everything I described in my book is true, including discussions with Linda.
14/ Can you please tell me what a typical Bruce Lee day would be in relation to training and exercise?
Norman Borine : The nearest answer to your question is to read Chapter 12 in King Dragon. It may not be specific, but you will learn some interesting things.
15/ And finally, what has Bruce Lee meant to you in your own life and what are your thoughts and opinions about the real human being and for what he achieved whether it was in martial arts, acting, philosophy etc?
Norman Borine : In summarizing, I can say that to me Bruce, as said by Dan Inosanto, was truly one-of-a-kind. My most descriptive answer, in my own words, will be found on page 233 of King Dragon. I hope you agree.
Yes I do agree! And I would like to Thank Norman for this fascinating interview and for the time and effort he so generously gave me. I do infact have the 'World of Bruce Lee Volume 1' magazine but i have never had the opportunity of reading Volume 2 but I will keep a look out for it. It was a huge privilege for me to interview Norman, for he will always be a well known person in the Bruce Lee World for the amount of excellent work he has done in celebration of Bruce Lee's remarkable life. I wish Norman & his family all the very best for the future!