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Why Benny From Doogie Kameāloha, M.D Looks So Familiar

It looks like Disney is ramping up development on upcoming Disney+ productions, casting actor Jason Scott Lee in the upcoming Doogie Howser M.D. remake called Doogie Kameāloha, M.D. (via Deadline). The original television series, which came out in 1989, stars Neil Patrick Harris as a teenage genius who graduated medical school at the age of 14 and now works as a licensed physician. On top of the already difficult life of being a teenager, Howser also has to deal with the everyday problems a surgeon faces.

The upcoming Doogie Kameāloha, M.D. series is a modern reimagining featuring Peyton Elizabeth Lee — who some might recognize from Andi Mack — as Lahela "Doogie" Kameāloha, a brilliant 16-year-old mixed-race girl who has to deal with a rising career in medicine alongside the struggles of adolescence. The series also stars Kathleen Rose Perkins as Dr. Clara Hannon, Lahela's Irish mother who works as Chief of Staff at the hospital.

Lee plays Lahela's father, Benny Kameāloha, born and raised in Hawaii, who has trouble coming to terms with the fact that his daughter is growing up. Lee is of Hawaiian and Chinese descent and grew up in Hawaii, which is where the upcoming series is set. He is likely a familiar face for many, as the actor has been working with Disney for a long time and appeared in other projects.

Jason Scott Lee played Bruce Lee in the biopic Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story

In 1993, Lee starred as famed Chinese-American martial artist and actor Bruce Lee in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, a movie recounting Bruce's journey from Hong Kong to America, building a career in the film industry and a reputation as a martial artist. Although he was born in California, Bruce Lee was raised in Hong Kong. It wasn't until he was 18 that he returned to the United States to pursue an education and a career. Bruce Lee is most well-known for his roles in movies like Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon, and for playing Kato in The Green Hornet TV series. Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is based on the autobiography written by Bruce's widow, Linda Lee Caldwell, called Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew, which recounts her life with her husband and his experience facing racism and other obstacles throughout his career. 

Before working on the film, Jason Scott Lee had never done any martial arts, but he was a gymnast and surfer. The actor was recommended for the role by Bonnie Timmermann, the casting director of The Last of the Mohicans, a film for which he auditioned but didn't land a part. Rob Cohen, the film's director, describes Jason Scott Lee's enigmatic persona, saying, "You could tell he was athletic; he has a graceful presence. But besides that, he has a mystery -— you can never quite tell what he's thinking. Bruce Lee had that," (via The New York Times). The film received positive reviews, with the only general criticism being how it reveres Bruce, and it has a 74% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

1994's adaptation of The Jungle Book starred Lee as Mowgli

Just a year later, Jason Scott Lee nabbed another major starring role, playing Mowgli in an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, directed by Stephen Sommers. The film also stars Cary Elwes, Lena Headey, Sam Neill, and John Cleese. Fair warning, you will not find talking and singing animals in this adventure. In the story, Lee's Mowgli loses his father in a tiger attack when he is a child, growing up in the jungle with the help of various creatures. He knows about humans but has no interest in them, until Kitty (Headey) shows up and piques his curiosity. Elwes plays an antagonist named Boone who wants to marry Kitty, the daughter of the powerful Colonel Geoffrey Brydon (Neill), and find the treasure rumored to be hidden in the jungle.

Although it's commonly overshadowed by Disney's 1967 animated film or the 2016 Disney adaptation, 1994's The Jungle Book was also a Walt Disney Studios project and received relatively positive reviews from critics. The story diverges from the source material a bit but brings a new life to the story, and Melinda Miller of The Buffalo News praised Lee's ability "to convey both childlike trust and manliness, handsomely demonstrating that goodness and strength can share the same form."

Lee portrayed Detective Kaleo on Hawaii Five-0

In addition to making movies on the big screen, Jason Scott Lee has added some TV roles to his body of work and was even able to add a bad-guy role to his resume. He appeared on the popular Hawaii Five-0 reboot three times as Detective Kaleo in the first three seasons. Lee's character initially assists the task force with the investigation into the death of Detective Danny Williams' (Scott Caan) former partner, Detective Meka Hanamoa (Ramon De Ocampo). It seems Hanamoa was on the internal affairs department's radar for possible corruption, an idea Danno just can't accept. Kaleo helps the team with its investigation into the Ochoa cartel and eventually kills its leader, Emilio Ochoa (Christian George), claiming self defense. It turns out, however, that Kaleo was the mole inside Honolulu PD, making him responsible for Hanamoa's death.

Lee returned to the role twice, once each in the next two seasons, as viewers get to see Kaleo deservedly behind bars for his crimes.

Lee played a villain named Böri Khan in Disney's live-action Mulan

In 2020, after a handful of delays, Disney finally released its highly-anticipated live-action adaptation of Mulan. The film is based on the 1998 animated classic, which is in turn based on the Chinese folklore story "The Ballad of Mulan." Yifei Liu plays the title character, while Donnie Yen plays Commander Tung and Jet Li plays the Emperor. The film has two main antagonists, one of which is Jason Scott Lee's Böri Khan. Khan is a Rouran leader and warrior who wants to kill the Emperor to avenge his father's death, and he is based on Shan Yu from the animated film. The character is brutal and violent like his predecessor, but he is also more demeaning towards the powerful women around him, evident in how he doesn't respect Mulan as a warrior because she is a girl. The apparent Chinese cultural and historical inaccuracies, along with various controversies Mulan faced, led to a very negative response from Chinese audiences. Despite that, Western audiences were generally favorable to the film, with Mulan earning a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Luckily for Lee, he has been able to explore both his Hawaiian and Chinese heritage throughout his acting career with these projects and others, such as Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, a journey that will continue with Doogie Kameāloha, M.D. According to Star Advertiser, the Disney+ series reportedly began production in February, so expect to hear more news soon.