LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: THE TRAGIC DEATH OF BRANDON LEE

A crow visits the grave of Brandon Lee, who died on this day back in 1993. The son of famed martial artist and iconic actor Bruce Lee was on set shooting a scene for the cult classic ‘The Crow’ when he was accidentally shot by fellow actor Michael Massee, who played the role of Funboy.

The explanation of what happened that day is fairly technical but can be summarized as such: a pistol that was used in the scene was not given a “once over” by the prop department, or anyone else for that matter, and still had a lead tip lodged in the barrel. In the scene Massee was to fire a blank at Lee, however, when Massee shot at him, the lead tip that was stuck fired into Brandon and the consequences were deadly. Lee was rushed to the hospital in Wilmington, North Carolina and underwent six hours of surgery but sadly did not survive. Brandon Bruce Lee died at 1:03 PM, he was just 28 years old. 

Brandon Lee died 20 years after his father, who coincidently, also intially fell ill while making a film. In Bruce Lee’s case, he collapsed in Hong Kong while recording a dubbing session for his film Enter the Dragon. The elder Lee would be diagnosed with cerebral edema and die two months later. There was much controversy surrounding his actual cause of death but in the end it was listed as “death by misadventure,” a designation that is used to refer to a death that occurred accidentally due to a risk that was taken voluntarily.

Both Bruce and Brandon Lee’s deaths are mired in controversy and rumors ranging from murderous triads to family curses persist for both father and son to this very day. The pair are buried side by side in Seattle’s Lake View Cemetery.

After his untimely death, Brandon Lee’s mother, Linda Lee, would go on to file a civil suit against the filmmakers for negligence, which was settled that same year for an undisclosed amount. Linda, who was struck with so much tragedy In her life, started the Bruce Lee Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching Bruce Lee’s philosophy on martial arts, among other things. In addition to his mother, and his former fiance Eliza Hutton, Brandon is also survived by a sister, Shannon who manages the Lee family estate and assists her Mother with the nonprofit.

Michael Massee, the actor who fired the fatal shot said he was traumatized by the event and often revealed in interviews that he still had nightmares about it, stating “I don’t think you ever get over something like that.” Massee died of stomach cancer in 2016. His anguish surrounding the tragic situation was so deep he passed away never having seen the film.

SOURCE CITATIONS

Lee, Linda. The Bruce Lee Story. United States: Ohara Publications. 1989

Lee, Linda. Bruce Lee: the man only I knew. Warner Paperback Library. 1975

Shih, Lee Han. The Life of the Dragon. Asia! Magazine. June 15, 2011. 

Welkos, Robert W. Bruce Lee’s Son, Brandon, Killed in Movie Accident. The Los Angeles Times. April 1, 1993

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