Image: A woman walks past a motel, former home of the late kung fu star Bruce Lee, in Hong Kong's Kowloon Tong district
Tyrone Siu  /  Reuters
A woman walks past a motel, the former home of the late kung fu star Bruce Lee, in Hong Kong's Kowloon Tong district. The billionaire owner of Lee's final home hopes to build a museum to the martial arts legend, giving in to public calls to prevent the sale of the luxury house in a northern Hong Kong suburb for millions of dollars.
updated 7/22/2009 10:32:05 AM ET 2009-07-22T14:32:05

The former home of Bruce Lee is now a love motel, renting rooms by the hour. But officials on Monday launched a design competition to turn it into a Hong Kong museum for the kung fu icon.

"I hope I can personally witness and oversee the completion of the Bruce Lee museum in my lifetime," owner Yu Pang-lin, who is in his 80s, said at a press conference marking the 36th anniversary of Lee's death.

Lee's fans have been calling for an official monument for their hero in his hometown for years.

Lee became a chest-thumping source of Chinese pride by portraying characters that defended the Chinese and the working class from oppressors in films like "Return of the Dragon." He died in Hong Kong in 1973 at age 32 from swelling of the brain.

Yu said he wants the museum to include a memorial hall, a library, a kung fu studio and a film archive.

Lee's daughter, Shannon Lee, and a panel of architects and town planners will judge the design competition, and the winners will be announced in November or December, the Hong Kong government said in a statement.

Yu has offered to donate Lee's home and put up the HK$100,000 ($13,000) in prize money, but it is unclear how the museum itself will be funded.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government has started collecting Lee's personal items and commissioned a documentary about the late actor and one about the construction of the museum, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau said at Monday's press conference.

Officials showed an 8-minute trailer of the biography produced by veteran Hong Kong director Ng See-yuen. It included interviews with "Mission: Impossible II" director John Woo; Lee's frequent collaborator producer, Raymond Chow; Ip Chun, the eldest son of his kung fu teacher, Ip Man; and actress Betty Ting Pei — in whose home Lee died — as well as footage of Lee's body in an open casket at his funeral.

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