Martin Deer looks back on the career of martial arts icon Bruce Lee…
Today would have marked the 72nd birthday of one of history’s most influential figures. His influence was was not felt just in the world of cinema – his impact was felt in Western cinema, Asian cinema, Martial Arts and health & nutrition. He even changed the way Westerners viewed Asians and had a great impact on the acceptance of racial diversity. How many people can say all of that? To this day his films, his training techniques and his enlightening and thought provoking philosophical ideas continue to inspire generations almost 39 years after his death. Happy Birthday Bruce Lee.
In 1973 Enter the Dragon opened in America and re-introduced the West to the ‘Little Dragon’, only this time like they’d never seen him before. As we all know Bruce would unfortunately never get to witness the cultural phenomenon that Enter the Dragon became, as the film took America and Europe by storm influencing boys and men alike to take up martial arts, wanting to be Bruce Lee.
His Asian films had already been doing this of course for a number of years as The Big Boss, Fist of Fury and Way of the Dragon had each broken box office records on their releases. A proponent of peaceful resolution, Lee’s Hong Kong films all had a similar theme – a man who resists fighting until it is no longer avoidable and he is pushed beyond his limit to fight for what is right, which can be also seen in his philosophical teachings.
My own admiration for Lee stems from my father – who was a teenager when Enter the Dragon was released – captivated by what he had saw he became a martial artist, and when he had a son of his own impressed his love of Lee onto me. Lee’s work continues to teach and guide me in life, health and training, as it does for millions across the globe and will for generations to come.
As far as I am concerned Bruce Lee is up there with the great thinkers and leaders in our history who have changed the world for the better. Bruce Lee was more than a great actor and the greatest martial artist we have ever seen – he was an important figure in changing cultural attitudes, and that is why his work and memory will live on forever.
And so, in honour of this great man, here are my five favourite fight scenes (which was incredibly hard to narrow down):
5. Way of the Dragon vs the Italian Gang
4. Fist of Fury vs the Japanese Karate School