Bruce Lee
Lee excelled in martial arts, including the Wing Chun style of kung fu and Latin dance (Reuters)

Chinese kung fu star Bruce Lee's only surviving daughter will mark the 40th anniversary of her father's death by opening an exhibition in Hong Kong that will go for five years.

Shannon Lee, 44, was only four years old when her father passed away after an allergic reaction to pain medication.

"I think that actually the reason we are still taking about Bruce Lee today, and not in a nostalgic way but in a relevant way, is because of the depth of his experience and his philosophy and the authenticity of his life," said his only daughter.

"If he just performed well in a few action films, without all that underneath it, then I don't think we would continue to be as relevant and inspiring today."

The US-based Bruce Lee Foundation has lent hundreds of items to the exhibition.

Chinese actor Mei Zhiyong performs a flying kick in front of a statue of kung fu legend Bruce Lee on the waterfront of Hong Kong, 20 July 2013 (Reuters)

Among the 600 items on display are the famous yellow-track suit he wore in the film Game of Death.

As a child actor , Lee excelled in the physical arts, including the wing chun style of kung fu and Latin dance.

After a series of frustrating experiences in Hollywood, Lee returned to Asia to make his name.

"He demonstrated to non-Asians that Asian men could be strong, charismatic and sexy. That they could own the screen and command box office dollars and the cultural spotlight," said Jeff Yang, a Chinese-American author who has written extensively about Hong Kong cinema.

"And while it's taken decades longer for others to be given the same opportunity, there isn't an Asian or Asian American actor today who doesn't acknowledge the debt they have to Lee for opening people's minds to the potential of Asian men."

"Bruce Lee transcends nationality, gender, ethnicity, religion and cultural differences," said Hew Kuan Yau, a Malaysian and committee member of Hong Kong's Bruce Lee Club.

"I don't know why the government doesn't fully recognise his contributions to Hong Kong and the world. Maybe they have some mental block because he was a fighter and not just a scholar."

Lee starred in only five feature films as an adult, and only three of them were released before his early death in Hong Kong at the age of 32.