Today is the 40th anniversary of the passing of who in my opinion was the greatest martial artist to ever live: Bruce Lee.
Bruce was only 32 years old when he died in Hong Kong of a cerebral edema caused by an apparent allergic reaction to Equagesic, a painkiller. Despite the official cause, popular urban legends persist Lee was murdered by triads, a curse on his family and other myths.
Throughout his career, Lee had to battle an industry that was very hesitant to allow an man of Asian decent attain a lead role in any project, let alone a major motion picture. He had a small stint as Kato during the 60’s version of ‘The Green Hornet’, and after failing to break stereotypes in Hollywood, Lee started to make movies in Hong Kong and from there his popularity shot through the stratosphere.
Lee also created his own style of martial arts, known as Jeet Kune Do. His book is a very fascinating read, there’s even a section dedicated to properly kicking a man when he’s down. I’m not kidding. Lee detailed in his book that if you are fighting a superior opponent and are lucky enough to knock him off his feet, you should do anything you can to make sure he doesn’t get back up. There’s no guarantee you’ll be lucky enough to ever do it again, so why give up a chance to win merely to be polite? Sound advice if you ask me…
Earlier this year, I purchased the 40th Anniversary, remastered edition of ‘Enter The Dragon’. It is in my opinion the best martial arts movie ever made.
A few weeks ago, Ethan and I watched this movie together and I think he really liked it. Last night he asked if he could watch it again, and no arm twisting was required. Even today, Lee’s movies are even entertaining all generations both old and new. That’s quite a feat considering the high definition, fibre optic world today’s kids live in.
I popped some popcorn and we watched the whole movie and I could tell the little guy was mesmerized when watching Lee beat up all the bad guys. He was even more surprised when I told him something I read in a book, is that in some parts of the film (such as the scene when Lee was using the numb-chucks) they actually had to slow down the film so you could see what he was doing… Lee was that fast.
I doubt anyone will dare debate it: Bruce Lee was the best martial artist to ever grace the screen. It’s been 40 years, but Bruce left the world a richer place. Decades later, his films are still watched and Lee instilled a vibrancy and energy which many still take inspiration from today.