Meet Jimmy Wang Yu, the real-life gangster that inspired Bruce Lee

It's fascinating how interwoven the worlds of organized crime and entertainment are. From Sinatra to early stand-up comedy and Hollywood, gangsters were among the most important patrons in entertainment history. There's money laundering to think of, but I like to imagine my gangsters with a refined cultural palate, equivalent to an Austrian Archduke in the 1500s. It's just a fun mental image.

The connection between criminals and the art world is a global affair. In Hong Kong, the Triads were instrumental in founding the region's burgeoning film industry. They were typically content to rule behind the scenes, but occasionally some gangsters got a hankering for the limelight. Jimmy Wang Yu was one of the most prominent gangsters to get bitten by the acting bug in his era.

In the video linked above, the YouTube channel Forgotten Streets details the life and brutal history of a Chinese film star who paved the way for Bruce Lee.