Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon named Best Ever Kung Fu Movie to Date

BRUCE Lee’s Enter The Dragon has been named the best Kung Fu movie to date, 49 years after his death.

Almost inarguably the most influential kung fu movie of all time, “Enter the Dragon” is considered Lee’s masterpiece and is one of the most financially successful films ever made.

Grossing over 400 times its estimated budget of $850,000 (by the 2010s, the movie had earned about $350 million, or roughly $2.2 billion adjusted for inflation, according to The New York Times).

The film also ranks No. 474 on Empire magazine’s 2008 list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.Despite his death at only 32, Lee born Lee Jun Fan, had become an iconic actor, director and martial arts expert having started his career just three months old!

He was born when his parents from Hong Kong were on a tour of America for Opera and a nurse named him Bruce, a name his parents rarely used.

Bruce became a child actor in Hong Kong but later returned to the U.S. and taught martial arts, starred in the TV series The Green Hornet (1966-67) and became a major box office draw in The Chinese Connection and Fists of Fury.

He, died at the age of 32 on July 20, 1973, shortly before the release of his film Enter the Dragon which has to date dominated the world as the best ever Kung Fu movie.

Born on November 27, 1940, in San Francisco, California, in both the hour and year of the Dragon, his father, Lee Hoi Chuen, a Hong Kong opera singer had the previous year moved with his wife, Grace Ho, and three children to the United States in 1939.

Lee received the name “Bruce” from a nurse at his birthing hospital, and his family never used the name during his pre-school years.

The future star appeared in his first film at the age of 3 months, when he served as the stand-in for an American baby in Golden Gate Girl (1941).In the early 1940s, the Lees moved back to Hong Kong, then occupied by the Japanese.

Apparently a natural in front of the camera, Lee appeared in roughly 20 films as a child actor, beginning in 1946.

He also studied dance, winning Hong Kong’s cha-cha competition, and would become known for his poetry as well.

As a teenager it is understood he was taunted by British students for his Chinese background and later joined a street gang. In 1953, he began to hone his passions into a discipline, studying kung fu (referred to as “gung fu” in Cantonese) under the tutelage of Master Yip Man.

By the end of the decade, Lee moved back to the U.S. to live with family friends outside Seattle, Washington, initially taking up work as a dance instructor.

Lee’s official cause of death was swelling of the brain caused by an allergic reaction to a headache medication, although some considered the circumstances of his death mysterious.

He died in Hong Kong on July 20, 1973, six days before the release of his film Enter the Dragon there.In many ways, what Clint Eastwood or John Wayne was for the Western, Lee was for martial arts movies.

But while Eastwood and Wayne had decades and dozens of films to establish their legacies, Lee did it in a fraction of the time.

In what would be Lee’s final film before his untimely death at the age of 32, “Enter the Dragon” minted the screen icon as a skilled martial artist sent undercover to compete in a fighting tournament organized by a dangerous international criminal.

Enter the Dragon is inarguably the most influential kung fu movie of all time, “Enter the Dragon” is considered Lee’s masterpiece.

It’s also one of the most financially successful films ever made, grossing over 400 times its estimated budget of $850,000 earning about $350 million, or roughly $2.2 billion adjusted for inflation.

At the time of its release, “Enter the Dragon” earned mixed to average reviews, although later critics would be far more generous, complimenting the movie’s action, music, and Lee’s performance.

The New York Times’ Howard Thompson wrote of the film, “The picture is expertly made and well-meshed; it moves like lightning and brims with color.

It is also the most savagely murderous and numbing hand-hacker (not a gun in it) you will ever see anywhere.”

Further proof of the film’s prestigious place in the kung fu genre came in the early 2000s, when the film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry.

The enduring influence of “Enter the Dragon” can be found not only in nearly every kung fu film that has followed since, but in modern video game series, manga, and anime as well.

The plot of the film resembles the basic premise of “Mortal Kombat,” and the film has been cited as a key influence on the “Dragon Ball” franchise (the name “Dragon Ball” being a direct reference to “Enter the Dragon”). 

All these decades later, the film still shapes much of pop culture. Lee’s fighting style in the film also had a major influence on the world of MMA; in the opening scene, Lee dons the now standard-UFC apparel of smaller shorts and kempo gloves, demonstrating several moves that would become commonly used in MMA bouts.

According to UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber, “that was the moment” modern MMA was born.”If you look at the way Bruce Lee trained, the way he fought, and many of the things he wrote, he said the perfect style was no style,” UFC president Dana White said in 2020, calling Lee “the father of mixed martial arts.”

 “You take a little something from everything. You take the good things from every different discipline, use what works, and you throw the rest away.”

(The Guardian, New York Times and Re-arrangement by Beitbridge Eye)

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