The Greatest Martial Artists on Screen Part 3
A young martial arts expert right off the bat, this prodigy shot to fame in China as he toppled opponents in Wushu tournaments, notably winning as a twelve year old against opponents in their mid to late twenties. From here on in people were eager to see what he could do next and he didn’t disappoint, luckily for western viewers he brought his talents to the big screen so that more of us could enjoy his skills. Though his career in Hollywood only began in the late 90s he has had the spotlight on him many times in films such as The One and the epic Hero which broke box office records in China. With insanely quick feet, flexibility and a persona that downplays his sheer mastery, Li is fantastic to watch on screen.
Probably one of the most recognisable names in film full stop, this gracious and uplifting actor is renowned in both the East and the West. Starting his acting career at a young age, Chan clearly intended to be in the game for the long haul, starting in the 60s he continues to be active on screen today giving him an incredibly prolific filmography which boasts hundreds of credits. Chan is known for not only being highly likeable but also for being a skilled martial artist and stunt performer, he is a large part of the progression of static martial arts filmmaking eventually becoming the fluid and mobile feature it is today. With comedy, drama, a clothing line, a vast singing career and even a cartoon series named after him all up his sleeve, it seems there is nothing this loveable man of action cannot do.
It would be a travesty to make any martial arts film list without including this legend of the screen. Lee not only fought on screen but directed, off screen he was an avid teacher of the martial arts and founded his own called Jeet Kune Do. This highly capable martial artist clearly took the practice very seriously and delved into the philosophy behind it all, which is why many of his quotes are still used today. Lee competed in tournaments frequently but became more well known when he starred as Kato in the Green Hornet TV series. This was one of the first times American audiences had seen martial arts being performed with such prowess, and he continued to wow fans from here on in. As he took on bigger roles in films back in Hong Kong, Bruce’s skills made him a prominent figure that led the genre to success. During his time on set he created many staples of modern martial arts films including his trademark stance, his iconic vocal calls when executing moves and his bold solo presence. Lee no doubt shaped the idea of martial arts into something greater for generations to come, all the while practicing a sound mind, healthy living and dedication. This is why Bruce Lee is more than just an actor, he is the embodiment of a state of mind that we could all benefit from.