A list of the top 12 most memorable Bruce Lee scenes from his movies, ranked from classic to epic. See how your favourite stacks up!
RELATED: Bruce Lee vs A Silverback Gorilla: Who Would Win?
Bruce Lee was known as one of the best when it came to being a movie martial artist. Not only was he an actual expert, but he had the skills to convincingly portray the beauty of martial arts on the big screen. Having originally started his career as a martial artist in some movies in Hong Kong but found himself constantly type-cast as the sidekick, which he attributed to being Asian. In an attempt to break out of this mould that he had found himself in, he became a martial arts expert, creating his own style and using it to train other actors in the United States. When he was cast in The Big Boss, he started his short but influential career in kung fu films.
Bruce Lee is a household name when it comes to kung fu films, much like how Muhammad Ali was in the boxing scene. Despite pioneering his own combat style, he quickly became a movie star. His name is now almost synonymous with kung fu movies. However, his skills were only for shows. He was famously known for his one-inch punch and the ability to do 200 two-finger push-ups. So it’s no surprise that his talent and agility are what made him famous in his movies. All of his characters were strong individuals with good morals, and he forever played the protagonist going against impossible odds.
Despite only starring in a handful of movies before his untimely passing (the last of which he was only able to film 40 minutes for and was going to be his directorial debut), there is no shortage of iconic scenes starring him. All of them are iconic, and picking which ones were the best was impossible, but it was a task that had to be done.
Here is a list of the 12 best Bruce Lee scenes, ranked from worst (but only in comparison to his others) to best.
RELATED: Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story Should Have Made Jason Scott Lee a Star
12. The Big Boss: Bruce Lee battles hordes of Henchmen
The Big Boss was Bruce Lee’s first-ever lead role, and Lee’s character was Cheng Chao-an, a bright young man who promised his mother that he would try his best to stay out of trouble. However, while working at an Ice Factory, he finds that his cousin has mysteriously gone missing and quickly finds out that his boss is behind it. While investigating the Ice Factory, he finds some of his family members in a truly horrible state. Before he can call the police, he is confronted by an army of henchmen of the boss. Initially unarmed (until he manages to take one of the bad guys), he faces many armed adversaries but easily cuts through the thugs. Like many of his ‘group’ scenes, the choreography is beautifully done, but this one was more humorous than most, with a bit of a Looney Tunes-style moment with a hole in a wooden shed where Lee has thrown an opponent through.
11. Enter the Dragon: Bruce Lee battles Robert Wall
This is the first of many celebrity martial arts experts on this list alongside Lee. Robert Wall was an American karate expert that initially came from San Jose, and it was a well-known fact that he and Lee shared a long friendship. Now, the two went up against each other for Enter the Dragon. In the movie, Wall’s character is O’Hara and is portrayed as a great, ‘tough-as-nails” combatant, but when he is matched against Lee’s character, Lee (I know, I was confused too), it’s clear that he wasn’t exactly as tough as he was made out to be. Although this scene is near the bottom of the list, it is still a memorable action scene that went down in cinematic history, showcasing that Bruce Lee’s speed wasn’t just for show and that he was an expert.
10. Fist of Fury: Bruce Lee battles a Katana-Wielding Karate Master
Fist of Fury was Bruce Lee’s second kung fu movie, and a few memorable scenes are mentioned here on this list. Although we know that Bruce Lee is a skilled opponent, it is always fantastic to see him taking down either a group of people or someone who seems like they might initially have the upper hand over him. In this scene of Fist of Fury, Bruce Lee’s character Chen Zhen has fought several karate masters in a Japanese dojo. This one is particularly memorable because he takes on a Japanese martial arts master that is a skilled swordsman with a katana. With beautiful speed and smooth movements, Chen Zhen manages to dodge the swings of the swooping katana, executing a final blow.
9. Fist of Fury: Bruce Lee battles Robert Baker
Another highlight from the Fist of Fury movie is the first scene where Lee takes on Robert Baker’s Petrov, known as The Strongman. The strongman can bend metal bars with his bare hands, and when the battle starts, Lee has finally found a proper match for his skill. First, Petrov lands a staggering right hook that leaves Chen Zhen reeling. Luckily, Zhen manages to get out of his grasp and uses his incredible speed to get the best of Petrov.
8. The Big Boss: Final Showdown
Now that we know that Bruce Lee’s Cheng Chao-an is on one of his personal vendettas to avenge his family, he goes after the boss in a battle with Han Ying-Chieh’s Hsiao Mi, the Big Boss. Once again, he is facing an opponent that has a weapon, when he starts out with none, but Bruce Lee’s kung fu skills go beyond the need for weapons. After a long struggle to disarm Hsiao, he finally overcomes the adversity. This is one of the best scenes in the movie because it is the first time it seems like Lee has found a match. But, of course, he always wins in the end.
7. Fist of Fury: Final Showdown
After facing off against Rober Baker’s Petrov, Chen Zhen goes up against Riki Hashimoto’s Suzuki, the big evil movie villain. In this movie, Lee really got to showcase some of his impressive flurries and high kicks, finishing off the main antagonist with a jump kick to the neck. You will find one more great scene on this list from this movie, and you will easily be able to see why it’s the movie’s best moment.
6. Enter the Dragon: Bruce Lee battles hordes of Henchmen
Besides Robert Walls’s character, Enter the Dragon didn’t have many martial arts masters that matched Bruce Lee’s character’s prowess. What they did have, however, were numbers. During one of the scenes, Lee’s character, Lee (sorry, I couldn’t resist bringing it up again), goes up against a horde of Han’s henchmen. During the scene , we see why Bruce Lee’s brief stardom was as great as it was. His facial expressions and body language during the beautifully choreographed battle perfectly convey the rage and will his character feels as he makes his way through person after person. Interestingly, Jackie Chan, another martial arts movie legend, was one of the goons that he defeated.
5. Fist of Fury: Bruce Lee battles hordes of Karate Students
The last Fist of Fury scene on this list is another magnificent group scene. Although there is no shortage of noteworthy martial arts movies that depict Lee going up against several assailants, this one is stunning. In this scene, he goes up against an entire dojo of Japanese karate students because their master has slaughtered all of his own fellow students. The movie was not only a testament to the exquisite quality of the martial arts choreography of the film. It had a beautiful message wrapped in a beautifully choreographed dance between multiple martial artists.
RELATED: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: “Bruce Lee would have Loved Cobra Kai”
4. Enter the Dragon: Mirror Room scene
As I mentioned before, Enter the Dragon seemed to have a slight shortage of martial artists that were a good match for Bruce Lee’s abilities. It would have been impossible for writers to write him as weak in any of Lee’s films, so they had to get creative about creating characters that didn’t match his skills. Shih Kien’s character, the film’s main antagonist, is an intelligent man, and he uses a room of mirrors to his advantage to try and even the odds between them. Lee’s character is stuck trying to distinguish illusions from reality, but he manages to do so. This is widely considered one of the biggest martial arts movies out there.
3. Way of the Dragon: Nunchuck scene
Bruce Lee has only brought his nunchucks out a mere two times throughout his martial arts cinema career, one of them being a scene where he stands up to a gang trying to rule the streets of Rome. In his second scene with these thugs, he brought out the big guns, showing excellent skill with an incredibly hard-to-use weapon. Hilariously, this difficulty was masterfully displayed when a criminal grabbed the weapons and hurt himself while trying to use them. This is another instance of Bruce Lee effortlessly taking down many opponents without problems.
2. Game of Death: Bruce Lee battles Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
This was Bruce Lee’s last movie, which was meant to have been his directorial debut and a movie he starred in. The original idea for the film was brilliant, as he was using his own style of combat that he developed, jeet kune do and would have fought many adversaries on his journey to the top of a pavilion. Unfortunately, he only managed to film 40 minutes for the film, and one of the scenes that he managed to complete was between himself and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, an NBA star at the time.
Being seven-foot-two and a basketball player, Abdul-Jabbar’s character, Mantis, was a foe unlike any that Lee had ever faced in his movies, completely dwarfed by his towering stature. The size difference between Abdul-Jabbar’s Mantis and Lee’s was one of the biggest obstacles in the choreography.
The rest of the movie was completed with the help of a Bruce Lee lookalike. Thankfully, the top-notch choreography was held up throughout the film. However, Bruce Lee’s impact could still be strongly felt throughout the film. Although it was meant to have been a debut for his directorial career, it became more of an homage to him due to unfortunate circumstances.
1. Way of the Dragon: Bruce Lee battles Chuck Norris
Of course, I had to put a movie scene between these two master martial artists, Bruce Lee nad Chuck Norris, at the top. Two martial arts legends on one screen? Definitely number one.
In this film, Bruce Lee stars as Tang Lung, while the legendary Chuck Norris stars as Colt. This clash of the titans easily topped every battle that Bruce Lee had filmed until that point. Their battle rages on for nine minutes, and their incredible skill as experts is easily visible throughout the struggle. The two have never been more evenly matched in cinema history, with Lee’s astonishing speed and agility set up against Norris’ absolute raw power. I guarantee you will hold your breath and wince as they exchange blows. Despite the movie’s story, I was still determining who to root for.
RELATED: Exciting New Bruce Lee Biopic Coming From Director Ang Lee
Bruce Lee Biopic
If you, like many others, felt like you didn’t get enough and want to see Bruce Lee again, we will be able to shortly. Ang Lee has been gearing up to create a biopic about his hero and has even been preparing his son, Mason Lee, to take his place. His son is 32, the age that Bruce Lee was at the time of his passing, and he has been training for the last couple of years to try and reach the excellent standard that Bruce Lee kept himself at. So although it might not be the same as seeing Bruce Lee himself, soon we will see someone who looks incredibly similar taking on the honour of the role. We are still determining when this might happen, but Ang Lee has assured reporters and news outlets that it is in the works and is determined to make it happen.
We have seen the clash of titans and many incredible martial arts masters going up against each other in this list of scenes between Bruce Lee and various opponents.
So what is your favourite Bruce Lee movie scene?