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Top 10 Movies of Bruce Lee

Shalu Bhatti
Bruce Lee was the pioneer of introducing westerners to the world of martial arts. This legend is an icon in the true sense of the word, who, in his short life, gave the audiences fighting moves that were never seen before. Here we give tribute to this evergreen hero, and gives you a list of the top 10 movies of Bruce Lee you must watch.

Did You Know?

The only reason Bruce Lee moved to the United States was to escape street fighting! During his teens, he was the leader of a gang named "The Tigers of Junction Street".
Nobody left such a striking impact on the film industry in such a short career! Lee Jun-fan, as he was named at his birth, did only five major films as a lead actor, the last of which was still incomplete when the news of his unexpected death spread all across the globe on July 20, 1973.
Although there is still the veil of mystery associated with his 'extraordinarily bizarre' circumstances of death, some say it was a supernatural cause, while others link it with cerebral edema―he achieved a great degree of fame, which in Hollywood, started from the time when he was cast as Kato in the television series "The Green Hornet".
In fact, what led him to grab his first leading role in the 1971 movie, "The Big Boss" was the success of this television series in Hong Kong. When Lee returned from the US, it was his Kato image that led him sign a two-film contract with the Hong Kong-based production, Golden Harvest, and from that point on, he only grew popular by the minute.
If it weren't for Lee, it is unlikely that martial arts would hold such an honorable and widespread popularity worldwide. Let's have a look at the movies that made Bruce Lee a legend like no other.


Who can not get mesmerized while watching the "Father of Mixed Martial Arts", as stated by UFC President Dana White, when he kicks some serious butt of the bad guys who end up messing with his affairs. We have seen him defeating some great martial art performers, including Chuck Norris and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Let's relive the moments of those iconic movies and moments through the following list of top 10 Bruce Lee movies.

Enter the Dragon

Director: Robert Clouse
Producer: Raymond Chow, Fred Weintraub, Paul Heller, Bruce Lee
Actors: Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Ahna Capri, Jim Kelly, Kien Shih.
Released: 26 July 1973
Duration: 1 hr 42 min
Released after Lee's death, this movie turned out to be a massive blockbuster, as it was the last of Lee's complete films in a leading role. But we give it the number one spot for not only this. If you have seen all of Lee's movies, you would agree that this movie was the best among all his other films, and had a perfect balance of fighting and storyline.
In this movie, Lee is shown as a gifted Shaolin martial artist who has been invited to participate in a martial arts competition on a distant island, which is conducted by an unknown man, Mr. Han. Turns out that he is a bad guy who runs businesses linked to drugs and prostitution.
Lee is asked by a British Intelligence agent to help them get evidence against Han so that he could be arrested. Lee agrees only to find out later that Han was an ex-Shaolin student who was expelled for bringing dishonor to the Shaolin.
Not only this, it was because of Han's bodyguard O'Hara that Lee's sister was forced to commit suicide. Lee undertakes this mission to avenge his sister and bring honor to Shaolin.
Trivia: Enter the Dragon movie was the first ever Chinese martial arts film that was produced by a major Hollywood studio - Warner Bros.

The Chinese Connection

Director: Wei Lo
Producer: Raymond Chow
Actors: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, James Tien.
Released: 22 March 1972
Duration: 1 hr 48 min
Our next pick happens to be the most deadly portrayal of Lee's character, with a fatal but heroic end. This movie shows him in a variety of shades, and when it comes to the fighting, it is an absolute delight to watch him fight Japanese fighters with his fist of fury!
The story revolves around the time when the Japanese ruled Shanghai, treating the Chinese quite poorly. Lee plays the role of a brilliant martial arts student, Chen Zhen, who returns to his school to get married to his lover and fiancée. He learns that his master has died, apparently due to illness.
Saddened by this news, he is taken aback when some people from Japanese dojo ridicule and insult his school and challenge him to fight. Furious, Chen goes to their school and defeats all its students and the master, only to make matters worse for his own life and his school.
As the movie proceeds, it turns out that it was the cook of Chen's school who killed his teacher along with caretaker. He kills both of them and becomes a convict in the eyes of everybody. In the end, he kills the Japanese dojo's grandmaster Hiroshi Suzuki and his men, as a revenge for dishonoring his school and dead teacher.
Of course this comes with a price of many lives of Chen's schoolmates as well. Finally, Chen surrenders and is killed by multiple shots. The scene where he does a flying kick in the end is an epic moment of the movie!
Trivia: The Chinese title of "The Chinese Connection" movie is the Fist of Fury. this movie was meant to be the U.S. title of another Bruce Lee movie, "The Big Boss"; however, accidentally, the titles got switched, and this movie was released with the wrong title.

Way of the Dragon

Director: Bruce Lee
Producer: Raymond Chow, Bruce Lee
Actors: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, Chuck Norris.
Released: 30 December 1972
Duration: 1 hr 39 min
Who wouldn't remember this movie, especially the classic scene where two martial art heroes, Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris fight as opponents near the Colosseum; who else in the world could defeat Norris? Another trait of this movie that makes it a bit different from the others is the comical tone of Lee's character.
Lee plays the character of Tang Lung, who is sent from Hong Kong to Rome to help his uncle and niece run their restaurant, which is under the radar of the local mafia gang. He tackles the gangsters with his boxing, and keeps them at bay until the boss of the mafia gang summons a gunman to kill him.
While undoubtedly, Tang manages to shoo him away, things take an ugly turn when Chen, the niece, is kidnapped by the mafia gang. Tang rescues her successfully which instigates the furious mafia boss to hire three of the best foreign martial artists to kill our hero, one of them being Chuck Norris.
Tang defeats all his opponents, only to find out that his very own uncle is also in favor of the mafia, as he seeks to get good money in exchange of the restaurant. In the end, the uncle is killed, the mafia boss is arrested, and Tang leaves Rome after bringing everything back to peace and normalcy.
Trivia: Way of the Dragon movie ended up setting a new box office record in Hong Kong and was Lee's only completed directorial work. Also, in the Empire magazine's list of "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema" in 2010, it ranked 95th.

The Big Boss

Director: Wei Lo
Producer: Raymond Chow
Actors: Bruce Lee, Maria Yi, James Tien.
Released: 3 October 1971
Duration: 1 hr 50 min
This movie was his beginning as a lead actor. As mentioned already, he managed to grab this role only because of his popularity as Kato in Hong Kong. The movie isn't completely "all-fight-scenes and martial arts", there is a decent amount of drama that keeps you curious about the storyline, character, and the plot.
Lee plays the character of Cheng, a resident of mainland China, who comes to Thailand to work as an ice-factory worker.
The factory is actually a setup to hide the underground drug smuggling business done by the owner, who kills the factory workers who refuse to co-operate with him. A few of the victims were also our hero's cousins. All this is hidden from Cheng, and he is made the foreman by the factory's owner to keep the situation under control.
However, as the events unfold, Cheng finds out the truth. He kills the factory owner's son in a combat, only to find out that almost all of his family is killed in the bargain, except for his female cousin, who has been kidnapped by the factory owner. In the end, he rescues his cousin by killing the antagonist. He then surrenders to the Thai police.
Trivia: A unique thing about The Big Boss Bruce Lee movie is that it has three completely different music scores. His other movies have only one music score, featured with minor alterations.

Game of Death

Director: Robert Clouse
Producer: Raymond Chow, Bruce Lee
Actors: Bruce Lee, Colleen Camp, Dan Inosanto, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Biao Yuen.
Released: 23 March 1978
Duration: 1 hr 43 min
This movie was an incomplete project of Bruce Lee, as he had to stop the production when he was offered "Enter the Dragon". He planned to resume its making post completing "Enter the Dragon" but sadly, he passed away even before Enter the Dragon released.
The Game of Death was completed by Enter the Dragon director Robert Clouse, who shot the remaining movie using Lee's body doubles, footage from Lee's previous work, and his actual funeral.
Although it is very easy to identify the real from the fake, especially when it comes to the picture quality, this movie is still worth a watch, especially for true Bruce Lee fans.

Lee plays the role of a martial arts movie star named Billy Lo, who is against a racketeering "syndicate" and refuses to be intimidated by their threats.
These guys try to kill our hero at his movie sets, but he somehow manages to escape the fatal bullet attack, which injured him to an extent that his life was saved, but he was in need of a plastic surgery that altered his facial features.
He fakes his death and then takes revenge from those who tried to harm him, being successful as he strikes each of his foe down, one by one. The post-surgery character is played by Yuen Biao.
Trivia: In the movie Game of Death you see the 7 ft 2 in tall American Basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bruce Lee fighting each other. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a real-life student of Bruce Lee and took Jeet Kune Do training from him.

Game of Death II

Director: See-Yuen Ng
Producer: Raymond Chow
Actors: Bruce Lee, Tong Lung, Jang Lee Hwang.
Released: 21 March 1981
Duration: 1 hr 26 min
Although the title of this movie comes off as a sequel to our 5th spot, the 1978 release Game of Death, in truth, it is nowhere related to this movie. Although Lee's character's name remains the same, Billy Lo, the story is way different. This movie is also known as Tower of Death.
Bruce Lee plays a famous martial artist who, along with his good friend Chin Ku, suspects that both of their lives is in danger. Chin Ku is killed by the bad guys, the news of which shatters Billy (played by Lee). On his funeral, some men in a helicopter try to steal the coffin of Chin Ku.
Billy holds on to the coffin, but falls down from a height which proved to be fatal. The main protagonist in this movie is his brother, Bobby Lo (played by Tong Lung), who seeks out to take revenge of his brother's death.
As he struggles his way up, fighting many men in the process, he enters the underground Tower of Death, only to find out that it is none other than Chin Ku, his brother's friend who is the man behind it all. In the end, he kills Chin Ku and stops his drug operation.
Trivia: Most of the scenes that show Lee, are actually footage from his movie Enter the Dragon.

The Kid

Director: Feng Feng
Producer: Leung Biu
Actors: Bruce Lee, Lee Hoi-chuen, Feng Feng.
Released: 30 May 1950
Duration: 1 hr 20 min
In this movie, we see a completely different Bruce Lee, when he was merely 10 years old. This was the first lead role of his as a child actor, and the entire movie was based on his life. The other titles of this movie are: Kid Cheung, Little Cheung, and My Son A-Chang.
Young Bruce Lee plays the role of a young boy, risen in slums, named Cheung. He is an orphan who survives in poverty by selling comic books in a little stall. In the name of family, all he has is his uncle and siblings.
Things take a toll when a miser businessman (played by Lee's father) promises to build a school in the area, a promise he never means to fulfill, and gets mugged by a local thug, Flash Blade Lee. Lee takes refuge in Cheung's little shelter, and he helps him escape, earning his admiration thereof.
Soon he comes under the shelter of Flash Blade Lee, who teaches Cheung the ways of earning a living by mugging and stealing. This story revolves around the moral values of giving up bad ways and to work and earn a respectable living. In the process, Flash Blade Lee eventually sacrifices himself so that our little hero could get a clean start.
Trivia: The Kid was the second movie where the father-son duo, Bruce Lee and Lee Hoi-chuen, worked together; the first being The Birth of Mankind in 1946.

An Orphan's Tragedy

Director: Chu Kei
Producer: -
Actors: Bruce Lee, Ng Cho Fan, Lau Hak Suen.
Released: 11 February 1955
Duration: 1 hr 53 min
While our previous pick showed us the potential this legendary star had even as a kid, here we see him during his early teens, showcasing his intense acting caliber furthermore. Again, this movie doesn't show him in his usual image of a martial artist.
His role is of a young boy who grows up (the grownup version is played by Cheung Wood Yau), only to find out some mysteries unravel from the past.

Bruce Lee plays the role of a young boy named Frank Wong Fuk Wan.
The story basically revolves around his reel-life father, Dickson Fan, who is framed by a profiteer named To Chai Yan to sell fake medicines, and is jailed for the crime for 10 years. However, he escapes prison where he meets Bruce Lee's character, a teenager who helps him escape from the police.
Fan later finds out that his little helper is none other than his biological son, and starts helping him financially to pursue his education in medicine. While Frank is unaware of his relationship with Fan, he assumes that the help and support is nothing else but gratitude.
When the young boy grows up, he starts working for the same guy who framed his father. Yan suspects Frank to be Fan's son, and uses him as a bait to bring Fan out from his hiding place.
Trivia: It is said that An Orphan's Tragedy movie is loosely based on a Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations.

Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey

Director: John Little
Producer: Chris Ennis, John Little, Lee Taek-Yong
Actors: Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Linda Lee Cadwell, John Little.
Released: 22 October 2000
Duration: 1 hr 50 min
This documentary would top the list if it wasn't a list of movies. However, we give this documentary film a number 9 place because it is by far the best of the many documentaries made on Bruce Lee's life. And it's a must-watch because you get to see the unreleased footage from the time Lee was shooting for his movie, The Game of Death.
In fact, these footages are the central highlight of this documentary, thereby allowing true fans to learn about his thoughts, philosophy, approach in life, and also the racial problems he faced in the United States of America. Jackie Chan, Don Inosanto, Sammo Hung, and Linda Cadwell (Lee's wife) are also featured in this documentary.
Trivia: This documentary features in the 2004 edition of "Enter the Dragon" DVD. Another documentary based on Lee's life, Bruce Lee: The Curse of the Dragon, is also featured in this edition.

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story

Director: Rob Cohen
Producer: Raffaella De Laurentiis, John Badham
Actors: Jason Scott Lee, Lauren Holly, Robert Wagner.
Released: 7 May 1993
Duration: 2 hr 00 min
A good movie, but it grabs the tenth position simply because of the fact that it is a movie based on Bruce Lee's life, and not actually a Bruce Lee starrer movie. This film is based on two biographies written on Lee: (1) Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew by Linda Lee Cadwell and (2) Bruce Lee: The Beginning by Robert Clouse.
The film is about his life, and from where it all started for him, of course. There are some elements of mysticism, like the nightmare that both Lee's father's character and Lee's character see about a scary phantom haunting Lee.
There are a few minor changes too. For instance, in the movie, it is shown that Lee was sent to the U.S. to escape the British sailors with whom Lee engaged in a fight in order to protect young Chinese women from being harassed by them.
The rest of the movie pretty much covers up his life, giving us fans a chance to learn some intricacies of his life, one of them being the decision to stop the shooting of The Game of Death for moving to the U.S. to work for Enter the Dragon, mainly because his wife wanted to go back to the States.
The movie doesn't highlight much about his mysterious death, as it was his wife's wish to share the story of his life, not death.
Trivia: Bruce Lee's son, Brandon Lee was offered for playing his father's character in this film, but he declined the role. Like his father, even he died at young age on the sets of The Crow, at the age of 28, before this film released.
Although there are numerous movies that were associated with Bruce Lee, the aforementioned list is prepared for those fans who wish to understand his work, his life, and his dedication in a closer way.
Bruce Lee is more than a legend; he is the icon of mixed martial arts, and perhaps among the handful of actors, whose name was enough to attract audiences into the theater even after his demise.
Various look-alikes and body doubles have been used to recreate his presence on screen, but the magic that Lee imparted among his audiences with his striking moves and exclusive animal sounds that he made when he fought is irreplaceable. There was, is, and perhaps will never be another like him. May his soul rest in peace.