Despite dying over forty years ago, it’s clear that people are still obsessed with Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon, Big Boss). And for good reason; not only was he a martial arts pioneer, he was also the first cross-over Chinese star, whom brought martial arts movies to the West. His impact on popular culture cannot be understated.
Okay so this isn’t movie news or a review, but I felt the need to share this video that is making the rounds of the interwebs. It is a breakdown of the late great master’s speed and technical ability that was demonstrated both on and off the screen. Watching it just makes you want to fling your arms around, making funny faces and equally funny noises.
Sure, Lee’s style has been copied, parodied and commented on ad nauseum for years, but it is still impressive to see the real deal in action. Taking clips from martial arts classics, Enter the Dragon, Way of the Dragon, and Fist of Fury, the video highlights tiny little touches and attacks that you’ve probably missed (or have not been able to physically see before).
As a martial artist, all his feints and counters are something I really dig on a personal level. Equally so, his physicality – his speed and athleticism – is also something to behold. He was an early proponent for health and fitness – another part of his legacy that is alive and strong today.
Bruce Lee (originally taught by legendary Ip Man) was a master of many martial arts, and eventually amalgamated them together to form Jeet Kune Do – his own recognisable and eclectic fighting style.
This was years before mixed martial arts or the UFC, and Lee offended many traditional teachers with his ideas and philosophy. His teaching of Westerners also caused a great backlash, however Lee saw beyond these boundaries and pushed on into starring roles into television and eventually film.
He starred in only six films (five as the main star), before tragically dying in 1973 after having an allergic reaction to a pain killer. He was only 32.
The short career he forged in cinema helped open the doors for many others in Hollywood, including the likes of Jackie Chan (who appeared in Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon), Chuck Norris (his first major role in Way of the Dragon) and Yang Sze (or as he is now known everywhere thanks to Enter the Dragon – Bolo Yeung).
Another star made in Enter the Dragon, Jim Kelly, would also go on to fame and fortune. He also challenged racial equality in martial arts and film, only as an African American.
Back to Bruce, and recently his image was used for a Japanese commercial for Johnny Walker’s whiskey. Ironic, considering he seldom (if ever) drank, and was a health nut, however the opening line of “Dragons Never Die” is perfectly apt for Lee’s legend.
Another interesting development will be Lee’s likeness appearing in the new EA UFC game. As a pre-order bonus, you will be able to play as the Dragon, though currently we have no idea on what weight-class or abilities he’ll use. UFC president Dana White is apparently in love with the idea, and the guys at EA saw it as a no-brainer.
I can imagine that his yellow fight shorts will soon be for sale somewhere.
It seems the spirit of Bruce Lee will never die. And this is a good thing. While we may never see his likeness in a film again, his impact will no doubt continue to inspire martial artists and actors for generations to come.
Be water, my friend.