On August 27, 2011, the martial arts film world lost a legend in Korean-born martial arts action star Kim Tae-Jeong. Kim is perhaps also known as "Tong Lung", a name chosen by Hong Kong producers because Kim was known as a Bruce Lee clone in the late 70's and early 80's.
A native of Korea, Kim is an expert in Tae Kwon Do and is quite an impressive kicker. He was discovered by producer Raymond Chow, who had opted to finish Bruce Lee's incomplete film GAME OF DEATH five years after Lee's tragic death in 1973. With Yuen Biao as the acrobatic double, Kim was chosen to be the new actor to play Lee's character in non-Lee scenes. Kim has an incredible fight sequence against Bob Wall, where he used his frenetic kicking style. The fight itself was choreographed by Sammo Hung, who has a small role in the 1978 film as Wall's opponent in the ring. The Hong Kong version of the film also features a small fight between Kim and fellow Korean martial artist and actor Kim Yong-Ho, better known as Casanova Wong.
Kim would go on to play both Bruce's GAME OF DEATH character AND his brother in TOWER OF DEATH, a 1981 sequel to the original film. It was here where Kim truly shines, especially in the finale. Playing Kim's opponent in the finale is fellow Korean taekwondo master Hwang Jang-Lee. Choreographed by Yuen Woo-Ping, this is one of Kim's best on-screen fight scenes as he goes toe to toe with Hwang. That same year, Kim starred in a Korean martial arts action-comedy called PLEASE MISS BE PATIENT.
In 1985, Hong Kong director Corey Yuen and Ng See-Yuen (who had produced TOWER OF DEATH) casted Kim as Bruce Lee's ghost in the American-Hong Kong crossover film NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER. As Kim did not speak English, he said all of his lines in Korean when talking to lead actor Kurt McKinney and the lines would be redubbed by an English speaking voice actor. Nevertheless, the chemistry looked good on-screen between Kim and McKinney.
No one had heard much about Kim since 1985, until he appeared in 2007 at the 12th annual Pusan Film Festival. A screening of PLEASE MISS BE PATIENT brought Kim back into the spotlight and shortly after, he was reunited with some of his friends in the film industry, fellow Koreans Hwang Jang-Lee, Casanova Wong, and fellow Bruce Lee clone Dragon Lee.
Sadly, after returning from a trip, Kim suffered a hemorrhage after having a stomach ache on the weekend of August 27, 2011 and a legend was gone. While Kim may have the distinction of being a Bruce Lee clone, Kim was truly a fantastic martial artist and a great person.
REST IN PEACE, KIM TAE-JEONG
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