As we have already covered in more detail than we needed, but less than we wanted, Bruce Lee was a frankly astonishing human being capable of feats some would consider genuinely super-human. Today we’d like to talk about a lesser known fact about Bruce Lee, the fact he was nobody’s god-damn sidekick.
Before he was famous for dragon-punching amputees to death in a hall of mirrors while screaming in a language only hawks can understand, Bruce Lee was known for one role, Kato. The loyal and dick-smashing assistant of the Green Hornet.
If you’re not familiar with The Green Hornet, he’s a superhero of sorts who fights crime using a combinations of punches to the back of the head, a bulletproof car and various gadgets, kind of like a discount Batman with cooler hat and less fans. The Green Hornet began life as a radio series, but it has since being expanded to include several films and a TV show, the latter of which we’re discussing today because it starred Bruce Fucking Lee.
As we’ve noted before, Bruce Lee landed the role of Kato purely because of his skills as a martial artist and during his interview he astounded everyone present by throwing a punch that was literally too fast for the person in front of him to see.
As Kato, Lee continued to amaze both audiences and the people filming him by dispatching his enemies with lightning fast kicks to the liver. Meanwhile, the titular Green Hornet would end fights with lazy, easily telegraphed haymakers or sucker punches, neither of which really compare to the 30 hit combos Kato was doling out to every second bad guy. Thanks almost entirely to Lee’s martial arts prowess, Kato quickly became the star of the show and thousands of fans would tune in just to see how Kato was going to wreck someone’s shit that week.
This led to a rather unusual problems for the producers when they tried to package the show for a Hong Kong audience. You see, nobody in Hong Kong watching The Green Hornet could believe that Kato was the sidekick since he was clearly infinitely more capable of punching a man to death than the pudgy sack of shit in a fedora following him around. So the producers pulled a bait and switch and renamed the program “The Kato Show” for Hong Kong audiences.
In other words, Bruce Lee kicked so much as Kato that they literally made him the main character when the show was shipped overseas, demoting the character the series is named after to second billing. Bruce Lee was that good.