Honor the martial arts legend Bruce Lee by revisiting his most iconic movies
The legendary martial artist, actor, director, and philosopher, Bruce Lee, has always been remembered for his excellence in every project he ever graced. He’s also known for being able to beat the h#ll out of Chuck Norris.
Lee was born on November 27th, 1940 in San Francisco’s Chinatown and raised in Kowloon, Hong Kong. He eventually returned to the United States at eighteen years old to study at the University of Washington in Seattle. During his college years in Seattle, he became a martial arts instructor, and that’s when his career began.
Bruce Lee is now known as the iconic image of martial arts cinema and even Hong Kong cinema as a whole. Lee’s film career was unfortunately cut short due to his untimely death in 1973; however, he left behind plenty of gems for the world to cherish. Here are some of our favorite films from the martial arts master’s vibrant filmography:
The Way of the Dragon (1972)
Written & directed by Bruce Lee himself, The Way of the Dragon is considered his most famous work. The film follows Tang Lung (played by Lee) who arrives in Rome to help his family’s restaurant that’s been overtaken by the syndicate.
Lee was involved in nearly every aspect of the film’s creation. He even played the percussion on the movie’s soundtrack! This film is mostly known for its intense showdown between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. Lee cast Norris in the film because he believed he was one of the only fighters who was fast enough to compete with him.
Although Lee doesn’t actually start fighting until thirty minutes into the film, it’s nonetheless still a thrilling martial arts action movie. If you’re looking to get into Bruce Lee’s career, this is the film to start with!
Fist of Fury (1972)
Fist of Fury follows Bruce Lee’s character, Chen Zhen, who seeks vengeance after the murder of his teacher. Although the relationship between Bruce Lee and director Wei Lo was a bit rocky (Lee refused to work with him again), the film is extremely entertaining and quintessential to martial arts cinema. Bruce Lee even choreographed his own fight scenes!
Additionally, this is the first film in which Bruce Lee’s iconic nunchucks make their appearance. You can even find a cameo of Jackie Chan early on in the film!
Enter the Dragon (1973)
Bruce Lee’s final film before his death, Enter the Dragon is widely considered one of the greatest martial arts films of all time. The film follows Lee as he joins a martial arts tournament in order to take down a sinister drug lord on his private island. Once again, Lee choreographed many of the film’s fight sequences.
You can also find Jackie Chan again in this film as one of the villain Han’s henchmen! During a fight scene between Lee & Chan, Lee had accidentally struck Chan in the face. He immediately apologized and even promised Jackie Chan that he will be involved in every film Lee will make from them on! Unfortunately, he was unable to keep this promise due to his death three months after the film’s release.
This film was an international hit and one of the first Chinese martial arts films produced by a Hollywood studio. Enter the Dragon became the initial film which sparked American interest in martial arts films and boosted Bruce Lee to international stardom.
An icon of Hong Kong and martial arts cinema, Bruce Lee remains one of the greatest movie stars of film history. References to his films can be found everywhere in pop culture (take a look at Kill Bill)! Let us know in the comments your favorite Bruce Lee movie!