Dragon The Bruce Lee: The Greatest Martial Arts Action Hero
By The Dan Man
Before the flashy action heroes Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen, Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme, there was Bruce Lee. In a way, it is a real shame that many of today's generation of action film fans have never been exposed to Bruce Lee ofcourse due to a generation gap as he was perhaps the greatest martial arts action hero of all time. His martial arts on film may not have been as fancy as say Jet Li's or Jackie Chan's but his on screen ferocity and charisma are unequalled & unparallel even to this date. Even more important was the impact on martial arts that Bruce Lee had which still endures today even 40 years since his passing.
It was Bruce Lee who originally brought Chinese martial arts action in to the mainstream cinema and the glamorous spotlight of the film world due to his immense persona, charisma, his moves, his actions & his styles which were iconic in nature & made Dragon the Bruce Lee in to a huge popular culture icon, his influence & impact is very well known even to this date. Though short in stature & with a muscular thin body Bruce Lee would surprise & thrash even the biggest & strongest of men with the awesome force of his punch & kick forms, he was a true martial artist as he displayed some physically tremendous display of strength & endurance which he gained through training in the arts. Originally a student of the legendary master of wing chun Ip Man, Bruce Lee further developed as a fighter & pugilist and later developed his own form of martial arts.
Bruce Lee always considered himself a martial artist first and an actor second. As a martial artist, he was way ahead of his time in developing his own style of martial arts he called jeet kune do the fist of interception or way of the intercepting fist. His martial arts incorporated the most practical techniques from various combative disciplines as he moved away from the traditional and classical techniques. His martial arts abilities were real and respected by other prominent martial artists like Jhoon Rhee, Chuck Norris, Ed Parker and Joe Lewis. His name was inducted into the prestigious Black Belt Hall of Fame twice, once while he was alive and the other after his death. These are honors that no other martial arts action hero has ever come close to. Martial arts schools in North America enjoyed a huge growth in enrollment because of Bruce Lee.
North America got an early glimpse of Bruce Lee when he played Kato in the Green Hornet television series and a bit role in the movie Marlowe. He went to Hong Kong and made a few films like Fists of Fury also called the Big Boss and the Chinese Connection which made him a huge star in Asia. Bruce Lee also wrote, directed and starred in his own movie production called the Way of the Dragon which featured perhaps one of the greatest martial arts fight scenes ever. This scene took place in the Roman Coliseum and was with Chuck Norris which gave Norris his first film start. It was Enter the Dragon that broke him to North America. Unfortunately, he died tragically at the age of 32 in 1973 before he was able to witness the success of that movie. At the time of Lee's death, he had completed the fight scenes for another movie called Game of Death which featured basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabar, who was actually one of his martial arts students. Other students of Bruce Lee included actors Steve McQueen and James Coburn. Game of Death was completed with look-alike actors later on.
Bruce Lee became such a great popular culture phenomenon & his untimely death further solidified his legend & iconic status amongst the people that he became a source of inspiration for other famous martial arts actors after him like Jackie Chan & Sammo Hung who used to get their rear-end kicked by Bruce Lee in his films but later became themselves great action superstars & then their was action refined superstars like Jet Li & Donnie Yen who furthered the popularity of martial arts on big screen. The persona of Bruce Lee also inspired many popular video game characters such as Fei Long of the Street Fighter & Law of the Tekken. Many television actors & characters also imitated Bruce Lee's characterizations over the years such was the iconic status & influence of Bruce Lee.
Though his untimely death at a young age was mourned heavily by his fans all over the world but it was no mighty shaolin monk or a deceptive dark ninja who slayed Bruce Lee but allergic reaction from a combination of medication that ultimately slew the heroic Dragon. Mysterious are the ways of God to remind us all that we are all humans and weak, however famous, rich, strong or powerful but can easily fall just like that. But the strangeness still remains as the son of Bruce Lee who also became a movie actor known as Brandon Lee was assassinated ooh sorry killed during shooting of a film in which he was literally shot by real bullet which was dubbed as a great accident anyway whatever it might be an illuminati or masonic cr*ppy sacrificial rituals as we have seen in Johnny Depp's "From Hell", or curses of black magic or either hate-killing or infact accident & misadventures, the mystery still remains for some.
One of the most significant contributions Bruce Lee made is that he opened the door for other Asians in the entertainment industry worldwide. He was the first Asian to achieve any significant success in the North American entertainment scenario. He became a star in North America and the rest of the world by playing heroes rather than past stereotype roles for Asians such as like servants, gangsters, laundry workers or other 'pigtail coolie' characters. On an even greater scale, Bruce Lee gave Asians, particularly the Chinese people worldwide, a reason to be proud. Bruce Lee influenced them to be confident in pushing forward to achieve their goals no matter what field of occupation they were in.