that killed a cinematographer and injured the director on the New Mexico set of the movie “Rust,” authorities said Thursday. That tragedy was eerily reminiscent of another tragedy caused by a movie prop gun.
Thursday’s news surfaced memories of the death of Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee, at the hands of a prop gun on the set of the movie, “The Crow,” in 1993.
The official account of Brandon Lee – run by his sister, Shannon Lee – wrote: “Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on ‘Rust.’ No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.”
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The actor, 28 years old at the time of his death, was best known as the son of kung fu star Bruce Lee. He had been in several low-budget movies before landing his breakthrough role as the star of “The Crow,” which eventually came out in 1994.
Lee’s character in the gothic superhero movie, Eric Draven, was described as a murdered rock musician brought back from the grave who adopts the persona of a night bird to avenge his own and his girlfriend’s untimely deaths. The film went on to gross $94 million.
Lee was following in his late father Bruce’s footsteps by training in martial arts and studying acting at Emerson College and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.
At first reports, Lee’s March 31, 1993 death released little information. It was believed that a small explosive charge used to stimulate gunfire was the cause of death on the set of “The Crow” in Wilmington, N.C.
In the filming of a movie scene, actor Michael Massee shot a revolver at Lee’s character as he walks into the room. Lee collapsed backwards and when he didn’t stand up, the crew thought he was still acting. Lee was later rushed to the hospital, and after six hours of emergency surgery, he was pronounced dead.
It was later revealed through the autopsy that Lee’s death during filming occurred as a result of a .44-caliber bullet discovered near Lee’s spine. That naturally drew criticism of the movie set’s safety. While blank ammunition was shot out of the gun, a lethal obstruction had been lodged in the barrel of the gun during the filming of another scene weeks prior.
Lee’s mother, Linda Lee Cadwell, went on to file a lawsuit for negligence four months after her son’s death. Cadwell alleged in the lawsuit that, “crew members ran out of dummy bullets and improperly manufactured their own from live ammunition. During a test firing of the dummy ammunition, a bullet tip wound up in the barrel of the handgun.”
District Attorney Jerry Spivey announced after an April 1993 investigation that no criminal charges would be filed over Lee’s death, with no evidence of criminal wrongdoing despite the movie crew’s negligence.
A scene from father Bruce Lee’s Hong Kong martial arts film “Game of Death,” made in 1972 and released in 1978, has haunting similarities to his son’s real life death.
“Gentlemen, these are blanks,” a man tells them in the scene emulating a movie set. “Only aim upward. There’s a wad of paper that comes out and can injure someone.”
Meanwhile, a hit man is standing amongst the ‘actors’ and puts a real bullet in the pocket to insert it into the prop gun. Bruce Lee’s character, Billy Lo, is shot in mid-acrobatic kick, and falls to the ground – acting to be wounded.
Bruce Lee died at 32 in his apartment in 1973, with autopsy reports showing his brain had badly swollen as a cause of death.