THE mystery surrounding the death of martial arts legend Bruce Lee appears to have been solved in a bombshell theory by doctors. The Kung fu master and Hollywood star died aged 32 in the summer of 1973 in Hong Kong.
His death at such a young age gave rise to a number of theories, including he was assassinated by Chinese gangsters, poisoned by a jealous lover, the victim of a curse and that he died from heatstroke.
But doctors now believe he may have died from drinking too much water after they reviewed the evidence – saying he is likely to have suffered from hyponatraemia.
A team of experts wrote in the Clinical Kidney Journal: “In other words, we propose that the kidney’s inability to excrete excess water killed Bruce Lee.”
Hyponatremia indicates the level of sodium in the blood – which is needed for fluid balance – is abnormally low.
The imbalance causes cells in the body to swell, including those in the brain.
The study claims Bruce had several risk factors for hyponatraemia.
His wife Linda has revealed how Bruce had a fluid-based diet of carrot and apple juice in the run-up to his death.
Biographer Matthew Polly, author of Bruce Lee, A Life in 2018, refers to repeated water intake on the evening of his death.
The study concluded: “We hypothesize that Bruce Lee died from a specific form of kidney dysfunction: the inability to excrete enough water to maintain water homeostasis, which is mainly a tubular function.
“This may lead to hyponatraemia, cerebral oedema (brain swelling) and death within hours if excess water intake is not matched by water excretion in urine, which is in line with the timeline of Lee’s demise.”
The researchers added that the fact that him drinking a lot of water was noted when it is “such a commonplace activity” indicates it was likely “noticeably higher” in frequency than those around him on the day of his death.
Bruce had also been reported to have often used cannabis and referred to himself in one letter as being “stoned as hell”.
In his biography, Mr Polly refers to Bruce’s repeated use of cannabis on the day of his death, July 20, 1973.
The researchers suggest that this may have been driving Bruce to drink an excessive amount of water.
They wrote: “Ironically, Lee made famous the quote ‘Be water my friend’, but excess water appears to have ultimately killed him.”
Bruce died just a few weeks before the release of Enter the Dragon, the first big Western-produced Kung fu film.
During an editing session in a dubbing room with no air conditioning in May 1973, Bruce collapsed and went into spasms.
He was diagnosed with cerebral oedema by a doctor and Bruce admitted he had eaten some Nepalese hash shortly before the episode.
Actor Mike Moh portrayed Bruce in Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Bruce’s daughter last year hit out at Tarantino’s portrayal of her father saying it reminded her of how “white Hollywood” had treated him.
In an open letter published in The Hollywood Reporter in July 2021, Shannon, 52, wrote that she is “really f**king tired of white men in Hollywood trying to tell me who Bruce Lee was.’”
She wrote: “Why does Quentin Tarantino speak like he knew Bruce Lee and hated him? It seems weird given he never met Bruce Lee, right?
“As you already know, the portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood by Mr. Tarantino, in my opinion, was inaccurate and unnecessary to say the least,’ she later wrote, adding: “I’m really f**king tired of white men in Hollywood trying to tell me who Bruce Lee was.
“I’m tired of hearing from white men in Hollywood that he was arrogant and an a**hole when they have no idea and cannot fathom what it might have taken to get work in 1960s and 70s Hollywood as a Chinese man with (God forbid) an accent, or to try to express an opinion on a set as a perceived foreigner and person of colour.
“I’m tired of white men in Hollywood mistaking his confidence, passion and skill for hubris and therefore finding it necessary to marginalise him and his contributions.
“I’m tired of white men in Hollywood finding it too challenging to believe that Bruce Lee might have really been good at what he did and maybe even knew how to do it better than them.”
Tarantino hit back on Joe Rogan’s podcast, saying Lee was “kind of an arrogant guy. The way he was talking, I didn’t just make a lot of that up”.