Getting his start as a child actor in Hong Kong, Bruce Lee eventually made his way to the United States and opened up several martial arts schools. He was devoted to the art of teaching and was successful. He gained recognition as an actor when he starred in The Green Hornet in 1966. From there, he and his family moved back to Hong Kong where he worked on a number of films. Bruce Lee set the standard as a kung-fu god which others strive to reach. Even after his death, Lee is known as the master of martial arts. With these 10 Bruce Lee movies, you can see Lee from all facets of life: as a writer, as an actor, and as a man.
10. The Way of the Dragon
The Way of the Dragon is a 1972 martial arts action comedy film. This movie is where the well-known Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris fight scene resides. It was written, directed, and produced by Bruce Lee and, as if that’s not enough, he also starred in it as the main character. The protagonist Tang Lung is enlisted from Hong Kong to help his relatives when their family-owned restaurant in Rome is threatened by a local mafia boss who wants their property. Through martial arts, the gangsters and Tang, with help from the restaurant staff, engage in physical battles. The mob boss will stop at nothing to get what he wants so he hires the best Japanese and European martial artists to defeat Tang. The final epic showdown takes place in none other than Rome’s Colosseum, but you’ll have to watch the movie to see who hails as victor..
9. The Kid
Bruce Lee starred in his first leading role as Kid Cheung in this adaptation of a comic strip by Yuen Po-wan. Cheung is a ten-year-old orphan who sells comics in the slums as a way to make a living for his family. He and his siblings are being raised by their Uncle Yee. After an encounter with the vicious thief Blade Lee, Cheung befriends the bad guy and is taken under his wing as a sort of apprentice. As Cheung struggles with wrong and right, a kind factory owner, played by Lee’s real-life father, comes to his rescue and tries to help the young boy develop a better value of life and living.
8. Enter the Dragon
Shaolin martial artist, Lee, turns undercover agent, in the 1973 film, Enter the Dragon. Bruce Lee plays Lee, who is recruited by the British Intelligence Agency to spy on a crime lord and uncover his illegal businesses. The evil villain holds a martial arts tournament every year, so Lee uses his skills to get an invitation, then heads to the criminal’s island on a secret mission. With showdown after showdown, the fighting sequences are perfectly executed and offer a wide variety of martial arts.
7. Game of Death
Well known for being “unfinished,” Game of Death is the 1972 film directed, written, produced by, and starring Bruce Lee. In the film, Bruce Lee played the character Hai Tien, who is a retired martial arts champion. He is confronted by underworld gangs and asked to participate in the seizure of something that is being protected in a pagoda guarded by highly skilled martial artists. When he refuses, his younger siblings are kidnapped, forcing him to participate. Hai and four others then battle their way up the pagoda, encountering a new challenge on each of the five tiers. The other four martial artists on Hai’s team are beaten and Hai has to compete in one-on-one combat. Hai defeats the giant guardian successfully, but heads down the stairs instead of towards the top of the pagoda to retrieve the awaiting object. There is no surviving material of the film to explain how this affects Hai or his family.
6. The Big Boss
Cheng Chao-an, played by Bruce Lee, is a Chinese man who moves to Thailand to live with his cousins. He works in an ice factory. When a block of ice is dropped, some workers accidentally discover there are drugs frozen in random ice blocks, and it is suspected that the factory is a cover for a larger drug business. The workers refuse to cooperate with the bosses and, as a result, they mysteriously disappear. Some of these workers are Cheng’s cousins. As unrest erupts in the factory with the missing people, Cheng is promoted to foreman to keep the peace, and he is given alcohol and prostitutes. More secrets are uncovered that ultimately lead to more action and violence among characters. Cheng encounters an epic battle with the crime lord and his gangsters before the movie concludes in a surprising ending.
5. Circle of Iron
This martial arts and fantasy movie was co-written by Bruce Lee. He intended to star in the film himself but died before its production. The screenplay was completed after his death and released in 1978. The movie opens with a martial arts tournament in which the winner will begin a quest to challenge Zetan, who possesses a book that supposedly contains all the world’s wisdom. After he is disqualified from the competition, Cord stumbles upon a blind man who has just easily fended off a gang of thugs who attacked him. Cord asks the old man to teach him his ways but the blind man refuses and they part ways. Cord then experiences a series of obstacles that require him to make a conscious decision about right and wrong. Cord makes a wrong decision and someone is dead as a result. He eventually crosses paths with the old blind man again and Cord is taught life lessons when the man agrees to be his teacher. With an ending that is both deep and surprising, this movie is a look into the mind of Bruce Lee as a writer.
4. An Orphan’s Tragedy
An Orphan’s Tragedy is a movie of twists and turns within the plot. After being framed for selling counterfeit medicine, Dickson Fan was wrongfully convicted and spent ten years imprisoned. Before his sentence is over, he escapes prison to a farm and meets young Frank Wong, who helps Fan elude the police. Eventually, Fan discovers that Frank is his biological son and gets a job in order to anonymously give his son money to study medicine. Upon graduating from school, Frank begins work at a medical company owned by To Chai-yan, the man responsible for Fan’s imprisonment. History repeats itself and Frank finds himself in a compromising position.
3. Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey
Bruce Lee was second to none when it came to being a martial arts star. He has set the standard for which martial arts heroes are constantly measured against. Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey is a documentary about the life, career and unfortunate death to show us the talented actor we knew and the man behind the scenes. With interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and never before scene action from Lee’s last unfinished film, Game of Death, we are offered a complex look at one of the world’s most famous kung-fu masters.
2. Fist of Fury
In his second major role following The Big Boss, Bruce Lee plays Chen Zen in this major film. Upon his arrival back to a martial arts school to be married, he is met with the tragic news that his master died from an illness. Plagued with an angry side, Chen is often retaliating or fighting. When Chen uncovers a secret about his martial arts master’s death, Chen can’t hold back. This action-packed movie is about revenge for the fallen.
1. Dragon: The Story of Bruce Lee
This movie is a biographical drama based on the life of Bruce Lee that starts with him as a child, chronicles his rise to fame, and ends with his untimely death. The 1993 film opens having a horrible nightmare that haunts him his whole life. Lee is shown receiving martial arts training in a montage that leads us to his teenage years. After leaving Hong Kong, he travels to America, meets the woman who will be his wife, opens a martial arts school, and raises a family. The biography follows his success and failures as a human, a businessman, and an actor. As a unique look into Bruce Lee’s life, this film is a must-see for any of the fans of this martial arts expert.