Leung Siu-lung learned martial arts from his uncle, who in turn had been taught it by Leung's grandfather. The oldest of twelve children in a single-parent family, Leung wanted to protect his siblings and began training in martial arts at an early age. By age 15, he began working as a stunt man specializing in kicks. Frequent street fights with gang members brought him to the attention of casting directors, and when he was 21 Leung began receiving small parts. The death of his friend Bruce Lee in 1973 led to many martial artists adopting similar names in the so-called "Brucesploitation" genre. Despite Leung's reluctance to trade on the popularity of his late friend, he began acting under the name "Bruce Leung" and became one of the most popular martial arts stars of the 1970s. During the 1980s, while based in Taiwan, Leung participated in a mainland China TV series; when the Taiwanese film industry learned of this, Leung was blacklisted, prematurely ending his career in 1988. For the next sixteen years, Leung turned to business. In 2004, he was lured out retirement by actor-director Stephen Chow, who cast him in his first turn as a villain in the martial arts comedy "Kung Fu Hustle," and Leung has been performing regularly on-screen ever since.