Bruce Lee would have turned 74 this year. Little Dragon, as he’s come to be called by his legions of fans, passed away from a cerebral edema in 1973. He wasn’t simply an actor or martial artist – he was a dedicated professional in both disciplines. His dynamic career was cut short by his untimely passing, but his legacy and celebrated legend live on. Lee’s inclusive fighting style – combining many kinds of defense – transformed both pro fighters and fans of his films and TV shows. There were many fighting heroes before and after Lee, but he’s one in a million.
A New Fighting Style Dawns
Today martial arts fans enjoy an unprecedented freedom when celebrating various fighting styles. It wasn’t too long ago that if you were a karate guy, you’d look down at a kung-fu fighter or have a judo or aikido stylist think their way was superior to yours. That’s all ancient bullshit. Bruce Lee wasn’t the first to teach the benefits of a multi-tiered training style, but he’s arguably the most influential.
Cinema As Sensei
Lee realized early on his physical skills and limited time as teacher or even book author teaching fighting wasn’t enough. He had to convey his philosophy to as broad an audience as possible. Enter Hollywood. For Lee, his real break in Tinseltown came playing Kato – chauffeur sidekick to comic hero Green Hornet. Although cancelled after only a season, it became a mega hit in Asia – where it was renamed The Kato Show, in honor of Lee’s enormous popularity.
Films such as Fists Of Fury and Return of The Dragon followed – co-starring Chuck Norris in his first movie role, their finale fight still remains the most talked about in martial arts movie history. His last film, released after his death, Enter The Dragon is regarded as a template for any serious fight fest. One of the only movies which approached similar frenetic fun is Bloodsport, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Casual fans of Bruce Lee don’t realize how funny Lee’s film romps can be. He’d inject humor into many scenes, and this fun factor is yet another reason why they’re so highly regarded and enjoyable. Rediscover the Little Dragon on film. If you’re an action lover, there’s so much to savor. Martial artists will take away concise and efficient nuggets to help encourage their own training. Comedy lovers will laugh their asses off. You’ll relish as one of the great fighters give lessons punctuated by electric action and memorable mirth.