There are few things in this world better than watching the late-great-legendary martial arts master, THE Bruce Lee, dissemble opponents in any of his classic karate flicks. Since there is obviously no match for Lee, all that’s left to do is compare him against the only worthy adversary, himself.
Yes, this is a Zac personal indulgence piece. I am in no way, shape, or form writing this for any audience. This is 100% for my own enjoyment (and so I can watch Bruce Lee clips during work).
– This is not about the best movie, this is about the Bruce that you’d least want to see in a dark alley, or even in the middle of Times Square on NYE.
– Rankings are based off the whole movie, not just Bruce’s fighting scenes alone. Bruce Lee was a much more talented actor than most people realize and each of his characters have traits that effect just how likely he was to kill you.
– Bruce Lee would (and did) annihilate Chuck Norris. Don’t @ me.
– If I see a Chuck Norris joke in the comment section it will be deleted, and if I can’t delete it, I will delete this piece and post it again. That’s a promise.*
7. Winslow Wong – Marlowe (1969)
Winslow Wong died without even getting hit in Marlowe. Like, come on. At least toss somebody in there who could pretend to be on Lee’s level. Show the man some respect.
6. Cheung – The Kid (1950)
Bruce Lee was 10 years old. That’s how upset I am that Winslow went out by getting faked into a jump kick off a skyscraper. (To be fair to Cheung, he was part of a gang at 10 so I assume they saw some violent promise in him. He could also probably get you killed by his friends.)
Now we get into the real list. From here on out, this will be the most difficult thing I will ever have to do. I love all of these Bruce’s and each one of them would kill you pretty easily.
5. Tang Lung – Return of the Dragon (1974)
Yes, the movie where Tang Lung kills Colt (Chuck Norris) in the Coliseum. It is easily one of the most iconic moments in Lee’s film career and is competing for the top spot as best movie, but there were character traits that couldn’t allow me to move Lung higher up this list. His single kill was Walker Texas Ranger, but he was reluctant to end his life. Colt had to admit that he would rather die than live with the shame of defeat, before Tang Lung became the undertaker. We’re talking deadliest, and Tang’s hesitation means he might just let you live.
4. Cheng Chao‑an – The Big Boss (1971)
Chao-an spends about half of the movie unwilling to lash out at the oppressive masters of the salt factory where he, his family, and friends work (more like where they’re slaves). This changes quickly when his friends are murdered after they take it upon themselves to make some changes to the workplace environment. Chao-an quickly becomes incensed and starts bustin’ heads all around the office. The problem is, none of his kills were impressive. He was disposing of his bosses that probably didn’t have too many “fighting for their lives” experiences. Even the boss fight was against a guy that has a social security check in the mail.
3. Billy Lo – The Game of Death (1978)
I’ve addressed the Chuck Norris fan boys, now I have to address those that only know Bruce Lee through his most mimicked role, Billy Lo. Lee’s most famous movie (released 5 years after his death) should not have been made. If he didn’t look so damn cool in that yellow jumpsuit, then I’d say it was a complete disgrace. He’s in it for just a few minutes, and that’s not including THE FOOTAGE OF HIS OPEN CASKET AT HIS OWN, REAL-LIFE, FUNERAL. Let that sink in for a second.
Regardless, Billy Lo was a bad mf’er for those few scenes. He disposed of 2 enemies, one being LA Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was a black belt and a foot and a half taller than Lee. He also does it with the utmost swagger, cracking jokes as he beats his opponents to a pulp.
2. Lee – Enter The Dragon (1973)
Lee is invited to a martial arts tournament on a secluded island school in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with underlying intentions to find the murderer of his own sister, Su Lin. Over the course of the movie, Lee is responsible for the murder of a fellow competitor and friend at the hands of Han, the school and tournament founder. The climactic final battle comes when Lee and another competitor team up to fight through the whole school. A school of future martial arts masters. A school with what seems like 100’s of students. On an island with no hope of backup. Escaping unscathed, Lee faces off against Han, in a room full of mirrors, while Han has a full on Wolverine hand. Literally, it comes with 4 almost foot long knives jutting from a hand piece where his actual hand used to be. This is by far Lee’s most impressive and genius fight scene. You can’t out wit a master and Bruce Lee was a legend.
1. Chen Zen – Fist of Fury (1972)
This is the only role that made me think, “Maybe I shouldn’t be rooting for Bruce in this flick.” Chen-Zen is the stuff of nightmares. After a rivaling Japanese martial arts school murder’s his own master, Zen’s eyes see only red and we get to see him take out his vengeance on any and every one that stands in his way. He is a complete psychopath and when the cops come around to make him pay for his ridiculous number of murders, he makes it clear he won’t go out without a fight. His bare hands were up against guns, guns that were 40 yards away from him in plain sight, and he still sprinted at them like he was going to run through a barrage of bullets and escape. I’m too soft to even go play paintball.
*If I’m allowed to do that