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Bruceploitation is a cultural phenomenon mostly seen in the 1970s after the untimely death of martial artist and martial arts actor Bruce Lee in 1973. Movie makers in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan hired a great number of Bruce Lee look-alike actors to star in many cheap knock-off martial arts movies to cash in on his success after his death.

“Bruceploitation” is a portmanteau of the name “Bruce” and exploitation film.

The Hong Kong action cinema scene was shocked when Bruce Lee died in a Hong Kong hotel on July 20th, 1973. At the time of Lee’s death, he was Hong Kong’s most famous martial arts actor. When Enter the Dragon became a box office success worldwide, many Hong Kong studios feared that a movie without their most famous star in it would not be financially successful, so some studios decided to play on Lee’s sudden international fame by making movies that vaguely sounded like Bruce Lee starring vehicles, with actors who looked like Lee changing their stage names to sound similar to “Bruce Lee”, such as Bruce Li and Bruce Le.

In a tactic similar to deceptive marketing, some of these films were advertised as genuine Bruce Lee movies when in fact they were not. This tactic was very successful in the mid-1970s when many of Bruce Lee’s earlier films such as Fist of Fury and The Big Boss were being released in “Chinese” Theaters in America after Bruce’s death, often with alternate and confusing names.

Bruce Lee’s stage name (not his real name) in Mandarin Chinese is Li Xiaolóng (???) which literally translates to “Lee Little Dragon”. After his death, many actors assumed Lee-like stage names. Bruce Li (?(Lí)?? from his real name Ho Chung Tao (???)), Bronson Lee, Bruce Chen, Bruce Lai, Bruce Le (?(Lu)?? from his real name Wong Kin Lung), (???)), Bruce Lei, Bruce Lie, Bruce Liang (also known as Bruce Leung), Bruce Ly real name Binhslee, Bruce Thai, Bruce K.A. Lea, Brute Lee, Myron Bruce Lee, Lee Bruce, and Dragon Lee were hired by studios to play Lee-styled roles.

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