Five of Bruce Lee’s most memorable kung fu films were released between 1971 and 1973. You can see how they stack up in terms of quality here.
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His acting career was brief, yet all five of Bruce Lee’s films have gone down in history as martial arts classics. As a result of Lee’s on-screen presence and martial artistry, all five of his films have been re-watched decades after their premiere.
This increasing demand for kung fu films was due to Bruce Lee’s movies, which enhanced public interest in martial arts and increased demand for kung fu films. Hong Kong and China had already been producing martial arts films prior to Bruce Lee’s big screen debut, but he changed how filmmakers approached the business and made them realize that what audiences really wanted to see in these films were trained martial artists performing well-choreographed fight scenes. The kung fu craze of the 1970s and 1980s was sparked by Lee.
Though he became a household name, Lee was only in the business for a brief time. In the late 1960s, he rose to fame as Kato, the sidekick of The Green Hornet’s main hero, on the television show. Lee appeared in the 1969 film Marlowe, starring James Garner as a detective. The Big Boss led to four more starring appearances for Lee before he died in 1973. From worst to finest, here are all five of Bruce Lee’s films, in that order.
5. Game of Death
It was five years before Bruce Lee’s final picture, Game of Death, was released on the big screen after he passed away. He has to fight his way up a tower, encountering various martial artists on each level, in Game of Death. The fights get more tougher as he progresses. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar plays a character in the movie that Lee gets into a fight with.
Because Bruce Lee died before Game of Death could be completed, the combat are well-done, but there is one huge problem: It was evident that the studio had tried to fix this problem by re-shooting many of his moments, but no amount of editing would have helped. One image had his face superimposed over a double’s face, and scenes from previous Bruce Lee films had to be added. Even footage from Bruce Lee’s actual funeral was included in the video. You can see why the studio decided not to finish Game of Death when you see it. It’s obvious that it was produced from only a small portion of a film. To sum things up: Despite these issues, Bruce Lee fans consider Game of Death a must-see because of the film’s action scenes alone.
4. The Big Boss
The Big Boss, which premiered in 1971, was Bruce Lee’s first major picture. At an ice factory on the Thai island of Koh Tao, Lee portrays Cheng Chao-an, a martial artist who moves there to live with his cousins. Chao-an begins helping his family search for two of his missing cousins, and he soon finds himself the target of a local gang’s attention. Chao-greatest an’s challenge is not conquering the gang, but keeping his pledge to his mother that he would never fight.
When Chao-an is first viewed as a coward, other characters in the film push and push him until he eventually breaches his promise and attacks his adversaries. Chao-climactic an’s decision makes the subsequent fights much more intense because of the film’s patient buildup. However, Bruce Lee’s debut film was a resounding success, but it wasn’t as as engaging as his later works.
3. Fist of Fury
Chen Zhen, Bruce Lee’s character in Fist of Fury, is a guy who comes home to discover that his kung fu master has passed away. Chen is thrown into a conflict between his own school and a Japanese dojo while still suffering from his loss. There are additional clashes between the two rival schools after the Japanese insulted his fellow students. When Chen Zhen finds that his master was slain, the fight escalates.
Several sequels to Fist of Fury have been made, with stars like Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen as Lee. But none of these films have come close to the original, which is an action-packed tale of revenge. There are hundreds of martial arts movies in which the kung fu hero avenges his instructor, but Fist of Fury is one of the best examples.
2. Enter The Dragon
Lee’s lone Hollywood martial arts film, Enter the Dragon, was released shortly after his death. The three main characters in Enter the Dragon are Bruce Lee (Bruce Lee), John Saxon (John Saxon), and Jim Kelly (Jim Kelly), each with their own backstory. Lee’s character is discreetly investigating the movie’s major adversary, Han, in a martial arts tournament after the three meet (Shen Kien).
As a martial arts film, Enter the Dragon is regarded as a classic for its stunning visual flair and choreography. Even though Lee has the upper hand in the movie’s final battle with Han, he still puts an emotional impact into every punch and facial expression.
1. Way of the Dragon
Tang Lung (Lee), a guy who travels to Rome to help his family deal with a deadly gang, is the subject of Bruce Lee’s debut directorial effort, Way of the Dragon. Despite her misgivings, Chin Ching-hua (Nora Miao) accepts Tang Lung’s help, and he proves her wrong when he effortlessly dispatches a group of thugs. With its action and humor, Way of the Dragon manages to surprise even the most jaded of fans of Bruce Lee. Many of the film’s comic elements boost the mood and character development.
Tang Lung and Chuck Norris’ character, Colt, face off at the end of the film, which is thrilling from beginning to end. One of the most memorable movie fight scenes is the one between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris in the Colosseum towards the end of the film. As a result, there were few camera cuts in this fight, which made it even more compelling and genuine.
In terms of choreography, it’s better than the final battle of Enter the Dragon. He authored and directed this film, which makes it one of its most notable aspects. Unlike any of Lee’s other films, Way of the Dragon has a distinct sense of style. Lee had full control over the film because he was the director. Lee was able to create a true martial arts masterpiece because of his extensive knowledge of kung fu and cinema.