By Barry Janoff
April 7, 2014: Hollywood and martial arts icon Bruce Lee passed away at the age of 32 in 1973, but his legend lives on in both categories and beyond.
The latest example: EA Sports' first video game dedicated to Ultimate Fighting Championship will have Lee in a significant role.
In addition to being a key part of the action, Lee — dubbed here as “The Father of Mixed Martial Arts” — will be featured in multi-media marketing leading up to and then beyond the game's scheduled release on June 14.
“I am so excited about this opportunity to bring my father back to videogames!” Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter, CEO for Bruce Lee, LLC and chairperson of the Bruce Lee Foundation, said in a statement. “I’m thrilled that fans can now interact with him in a new way."
Marketing support includes a TV/online spot, Internet and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Taglines: He's in the game." And "Everyone can be Bruce Lee."
Lee was featured in a game released in the 1980s for the Atari and Commodore systems.
According to Brian Hayes, creative director for EA Sports UFC, "You have the premier organization in the fastest growing sport in the world, the UFC; and the most iconic martial artist in the history of the world, Bruce Lee — a martial artist renowned for his philosophies that laid the groundwork for modern mixed martial arts. I can’t conceive of a universe where bringing these two things together doesn’t make sense."
Lee appeared in such movies as Enter the Dragon, The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Way of the Dragon and The Game of Death (posthumously); and played Kato in the 1960s TV series, The Green Hornet.
He is better known for developing and teaching his unique style of martial arts, Jun Fan Gung Fu, which developed in to Jeet Kune Do. His students included Chuck Norris, Joe Lewis, Lee Marvin, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Brandon Lee (his son).
Students were taught much more than martial arts. Abiding by a district philosophy was as much a part of the lessons.
Among his most famous quotes: "Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do."
“There’s no debate, Bruce Lee is the father of mixed martial arts,” Dana White, UFC president, said in a statement. “He believed not one style of fighting was the best and that you had to have a little piece of everything to be a complete fighter. He was proven right when the first UFC event took place in 1993.”
"Seeing Bruce Lee walkout and enter the Octagon to fight in the UFC for the first time is a surreal and truly sensational experience.," Ian Lloyd, art director for EA Sports UFC, wrote on the EA blog site. "This does not just look like Bruce Lee. It is Bruce Lee. The way he carries himself, his fighting stance, his rippling physique, devastating speed, signature strikes and accompanying yells, whoops and shrieks."
EA Sports UFC will be available for Xbox One and PlayStation4 consoles.