Group calls for Bruce Lee statue big enough to be seen from sky

Jardim de Luís de Camões, near Casa Garden

A small square in the Historic Center of Macao is in for a big renovation if a group of people who want a Bruce Lee statue “big enough to be seen when people come in to land at the airport” have their way.
The group, comprised of individuals based in Macau and Hong Kong, want the statue located near Jardim de Luís de Camões, the location of an iconic scene in Fist of Fury (1972) where Bruce Lee breaks a sign forbidding dogs and Chinese people from entering the park.
The park occupies a stretch along the historic Praça de Luís de Camões, now populated by a bus terminal and boxed in by Casa Garden, the Protestant Cemetery and St Anthony’s Church. It is just a few minutes’ walk from Macau’s most iconic tourism landmark, the Ruins of St. Paul’s.
The team behind the proposal believes a statue of the kung fu legend holds real tourism potential. They say Bruce Lee fans from around the world already visit just to see the park and more would make the pilgrimage if they could take a photo in front of a statue or plaque.
The idea would be to tap into tourism links within the Greater Bay Area, most notably Shunde District, in Foshan, where the Bruce Lee Paradise park is located and where his teacher, Ip Man, spent his formative years. There is also nearby Hong Kong, where a famous statue of Bruce Lee can be seen on Avenue of Stars, along the Victoria Harbour waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui. According to the vision of Agnes Goh, one of the project leaders, martial arts fans and Bruce Lee enthusiasts would take combined tours to visit the three cities.
“In line with Macau’s [tourism ambitions], we feel that Bruce Lee, a worldwide legendary superstar who bridged the gap between East and West, will help bring in martial arts craze and tourists from all over the world,” said Goh. “We are delighted that a good number of famous people and artists who were born in Macau share the same view and vision as us.”
According to the organizers, even Shannon Lee, daughter of Bruce Lee, has thrown her support behind the project, providing that it remains a not-for-profit venture.
It was originally a three-year plan that would have kicked off next month with a charity gala dinner and a wushu performance to celebrate Bruce Lee’s 80th birthday event on November 27. The organizers had planned to launch a “Bruce Lee Community Peace Garden” next year and unveil the statue in the third year.
The arrival of Covid-19 disrupted their plans and put the project on ice for a while.
Now, with the virus defeated in Macau, the biggest challenge is to find a financial backer for the project. So far, at least two government departments say they won’t be footing the bill.
Funding was also the challenge in Hong Kong nearly 20 years ago when the Hong Kong Bruce Lee Club decided to raise $100,000 to erect the now-famous statue after pleas to the government to do so failed. Today, the 2.5-meter bronze statute is a major tourist attraction.
“Hong Kong has never really gotten behind Bruce Lee or realized how big he is around the world and this is a missed opportunity,” said Anders Nelsson, an actor and musician in Hong Kong, who supports the Macau project. “We thought Macau would be more amenable to the idea because of its tourist pull. Not many people realize the scene was shot in this garden, but with promotion, it could become a tourist attraction in time.”
Nelsson’s connection to Bruce Lee goes back to a “tiny role” he had as a goon in The Way of the Dragon (1972). He was immortalized in the Bruce Lee fandom when the shot was incidentally featured on the international poster for the film.
For Nelsson, a long-time admirer of Lee, it would not be enough to recreate a life-size statue of the kung fu legend. “It should be huge,” he said, “big enough to be seen when people come to land at the airport.”
“Macau wants culture and the arts to accompany gaming. Who better or bigger than Bruce Lee to be their mascot? I don’t think there could be any objections whatsoever,” said Nelsson.
The project could offer synergies with other film-related projects that some in Macau see as a pillar of economic diversification.
A new initiative to build a film production base in Macau to rival Hollywood and Bollywood is among these film-related projects. Dubbed “Aollywood,” after the Chinese spelling of Macau, the project draws support from hundreds of icons in the Chinese film and television industry and is said to involve an investment of at least 30 billion patacas over the next five years.
Even the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) originally conceived the International Film Festival & Awards – Macao (IFFAM), now entering its fifth year, as a way to encourage filmmakers to shoot movies in Macau and raise the city’s profile among tourists from places other than mainland China.
The organizers behind the proposal approached the MGTO for financial assistance but the tourism board said it did not see commercial value in the project. According to a letter sent to the organizers, the MGTO said it does not see how the statue is “directly related to diversifying tourism products and the economy.”
The tourism board then told Macau Daily Times, “having analyzed [the proposal] from the perspective of the development of tourism products, the nature of the event is more inclined to charity and martial arts activities, and the overall efforts to foster the tourism economy of Macau is not remarkably effective. Thus, MGTO has replied to the applicant that it is not in the position to grant the [requested] subsidy.”
Goh said she also approached the Sports Bureau (ID) about the idea. The ID told Macau Daily Times that, “with regard to the mentioned proposal of a Bruce Lee statue in Macau, please be advised that the Sports Bureau currently has no intention to support this project.”
Still, the fight goes on for a Bruce Lee statue. According to Goh, there are more big names beginning to lend their support to the idea, but it will take the government’s blessing to get anything approved.
“It’s good to see people [fighting to have a] Bruce Lee statue established in that particular garden,” said Dr Billy Chan, a close friend of Nelsson and supporter of the project. “I always felt Bruce had such a connection with Macau.”
“Bruce Lee is indeed a symbol of ‘loyalty, cross-culture, and somewhat standing tall of being ethnically Chinese,’ and chances are one day Macau might become a must-visit destination for tourists to have their photos taken by a beautiful Bruce Lee monument,” he said.

Categories Headlines Macau