November 27, 2019, marks the 79th birth anniversary of the legendary Bruce Lee, considered as one of the best martial arts experts of the last century. The man who became a cult phenomenon, all over the world, emphasised by the global success of the 1973 film Enter the Dragon, and is often hailed responsible for bridging the East-West divide. Future Asian stars like Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fat, Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa et al can thank this man for making martial arts a cool aspect in Hollywood. Bruce Lee's Daughter Upset With Quentin Tarantino for Portraying Her Father as an Arrogant Blowhard in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
Starting his career as a child artist, Bruce Lee, whose real name is Lee Jun-fan, learnt martial arts at a young age, something his parents pushed him to doing because of his involvement in street fights. Soon he became a martial arts trainer and also a stunt choreographer in many films. Cinema came calling and Lee became a part of many Hong Kong-Hollywood productions. His fight sequences soon made him very popular and he ascended to lead roles. Some of his big films include The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Way of the Dragon, Enter the Dragon and The Game of Death. Bruce Lee was also popular for his role of Kato in the 1966 television series The Green Hornet. He passed away young, merely at the age of 32, his death caused by cerebral edema caused by over-exertion and heat stroke.
This year, Bruce Lee was remembered in the headlines for the controversy surrounding his depiction in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. Played by Mike Moh, Lee was shown as this arrogant star who was bested by the fictional Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) in a scuffle. This didn't go down well with Lee's daughter Shannon who claimed that Lee's star status was still not accepted the 'white' Hollywood. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Movie Review: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt Indulge in a Zany Bromance in Quentin Tarantino’s Darkly Delightful Ode to Cinema.
Anyway, we love Bruce Lee, no matter what QT thinks of him, and on the occasion of his birth anniversary, we look at five awesome fight sequences of the legend.
#1 Bruce Lee vs Chuck Norris - The Way of the Dragon
What do you get when you bring two action legends for a fight? An awesome action sequence!
Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee were great friends in real life, but nothing of that sort was seen in the above fight sequence, that came before the climax of the film. The editing, the sound effects and the choreography all gel well to create a memorable fight sequence.
#2 The Hall Of Mirrors - Enter The Dragon
How can I write a feature about Bruce Lee without mentioning his most famous films? Enter The Dragon, that was released post his untimely demise, was his biggest release as well as his biggest release. There are plentiful memorable action sequences in the film, including one where Lee breaks the neck of a fighter, played by a then-unknown Jackie Chan, who worked as an extra. But our fave is the Mirror of Hall sequence.
Part of the action-packed finale, this particular sequence has Lee face off the main antagonist, Shih Kien's Han, who diverts him into a hall of mirrors in his booby-trapped palace. While the sequence has fewer fisticuffs, it more than makes up for it with a sense of suspense, and smart use of sound effects.
#3 Bruce Lee vs Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - The Game of Death
The Game of Death has the final appearance of Bruce Lee in the lead, released five years after his demise. It was an incomplete film, and released with some very poor special effects where Lee's face was morphed on to a stand-in in some scenes with very obvious results. That said, there are some good fight sequences in the film.
Our favourite is when Lee faces another IRL good friend and former basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Lee pays a martial artist hired to defeat the guardians stationed at five levels of a pagoda, with Jabbar's character at the fifth. What makes the fight interesting is that Jabbar uses the same fighting technique as Lee, and with his towering height, has the obvious upper hand, before his one weakness lets him down.
#4 Bruce Lee vs Japanese Dojo - Fist of Fury
We have had videos in the list where Bruce Lee takes on a mighty adversary. Let's look at an action scene, where he takes on many. And we can't look beyond the first action sequence in the film Fist of Fury, also known as The Chinese Connection.
The scene not only establishes that film's lead Chen Zhen as someone not to mess with it, but also gives a feeling of rush seeing him make a statement. That too, in the way he knows the best -heeyaaah!
#5 Bruce Lee vs Robin - Batman
Okay, we know this is not even among the best of Bruce Lee fights. But how can we miss an opportunity where Bruce Lee gets to meet Batman and his annoying sidekick Robin? So this happened when Bruce Lee played Kato in The Green Hornet TV series, and Adam West's Batman series was a huge hit on television.
So they had a crossover episode where the heroes meet, and one scene they even get to fight each other in a campy manner, that Batman series was known for.