Bruce Lee was a real icon. He’s credited with bringing martial arts movies to the west, and for basically inventing mixed martial arts. He is also given credit for his role in breaking stereotypes and changing the way Chinese people were represented in entertainment. He was also a philosopher and the founder of Jeet Kune Do. He was undoubtedly the biggest ever star of martial arts, and among the most well known celebrities of his time. He will forever be immortalized in the kung fu movies and tv shows he starred in. Many of which have become classics. Here are the ten best Bruce Lee movies.
The Big Boss (1971)
The Big Boss was an accidental success for Bruce Lee. The main role was written for someone else, but the director was changed when filming began. The new director preferred Bruce Lee to the other actor so they switched roles. This was a big step for Bruce Lee as it launched him to fame in the Asian film markets. Before this point, he was only well known in the Hong Kong film market. The movie tells the story of a man committed to non-violence. He works at an ice factory, but he is forced into using his martial arts skills when factory workers fall under threat.
The Kid (1950)
This was the first movie in which Bruce Lee played the main role. He was just 10 years old. Interestingly, Bruce Lee’s father was actually the other main role. The child works in his father’s factory. The factory owner has no idea that the child has been taken under the wing of a dangerous and well skilled professional thief. The story is based on a comic book, which sees the boy getting into all sorts of trouble and bizarre situations.
Bruce Lee doesn’t play the lead role in this movie, but is heavily featured. He knew that taking smaller roles was needed if he was to break into the American market. In fact, this was the first work to gain Bruce Lee major attention in the US. The movie tells the story of how a woman hires a detective to help find her brother, who went missing. As the story goes on, the circumstance of her brothers disappearance seem more and more mysterious. Bruce Lee plays a martial arts expert sent to hinder the detective’s work. Up until this point, there wasn’t much martial arts in Hollywood movies.
Circle Of Iron (1978)
Circle of Iron doesn’t actually star Bruce Lee at all. Bruce Lee wrote the movie, and was planning on starring as the lead role. But he tragically died before production began. The movie was still created as a tribute to Bruce Lee’s memory though. The movie tells the story of a young martial artist who constantly meets other fighters in combat. His quest is to find the true meaning of martial arts, and the ultimate practices. He eventually meets a wise old blind man, who just might have the answers the fighter has been looking for. Lee wanted the film to represent the difference between western and Eastern values. Western people focus on the actual martial arts, and Eastern people focus more on the meaning of the art.
An Orphan’s Tragedy (1955)
This is another movie from Bruce Lee’s youth. He stars as a young orphan boy who comes to know an escaped convict. He helps the convict hide from authorities, and the convict later finds out that the boy is his son! So he provides money for the boy to go to school. But the authorities realize what has happened. So they frame the boy in an attempt to lure the escaped convict into emerging from his hiding place. Strangely, the movie is based on the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations. I’m not sure why they would choose that story to adapt into a Chinese martial arts movie.
The Green Hornet (1974)
You might not even be aware of this movie’s existence. The green Hornet is a 1960s tv show featuring Bruce Lee. The idea of the show is that a wealthy businessman fights crime with his secret identity of “The Green Hornet”. But he’s fairly useless at fighting crime. His assistant Kato, which is played by Bruce Lee, is very good at fighting crime and catching bad guys by using his martial arts skill. The tv show was short lives, but has gone down as a classic. So several episodes of the show were strung together and released as an independent movie in 1974.
Game Of Death (1978)
Game of Death was one of the movies which were being produced when Bruce Lee died. As a result of this, the movie was never finished. But it was released anyway at a length of just 39 minutes. It was during the filming of Game of Death that Lee was offered a part in the movie “Enter the dragon”. And it was during production of “Enter the Dragon” that Bruce Lee suddenly died. Game of Death tells the story of a movie star who is forced to fake his own death. The character is clearly based on Bruce Lee himself.
The Way Of The Dragon (1972)
In The Way of the Dragon, Bruce Lee plays the role of an Asian American visiting family members in Italy. While there, he is forced into battle with the local gangsters who attack his family. The movie is mostly remembered for the scene where Bruce Lee fights against Chuck Norris. It was the internet’s biggest hit long before the internet even existed. The way of the Dragon is the only complete movie that Bruce Lee directed. It’s consistently ranked among the best Bruce Lee movies, and was the most successful film of the year in Hong Kong. To create the movie, Bruce Lee founded his own production company.
Fist Of Fury (1972)
Fist of Fury was Bruce Lee’s second big hit as far as feature length movies are concerned. It was the first Bruce Lee movie I ever saw so maybe it’s not one of the best Bruce Lee movies. Maybe I’m just bias. It tells the story of a young man studying martial arts in the early 20th century. At this time, it was normal for children to get their entire education from martial arts schools. But the Japanese overlords, who controlled that part of China, kill the master of his martial arts school. But being highly skilled, the young man goes on a mission for revenge. These were the days when a person could just take revenge without it being a big deal.
Enter The Dragon (1973)
Enter the Dragon is famous for many reasons. One of which is that Jackie Chan played a bad guy extra in a fight scene with Bruce Lee. Another reason is that it’s a bloody good film. It tells the story of a traditional Chinese kung fu practitioner, who meets a man. The man invites him to compete in a martial arts tournament on a mysterious island. The British intelligence agency then contact him and ask him to help them infiltrate the island. He agrees, and travels to the island. He competes in the tournament until the British are able to secure the island and arrest the mysterious man.