Bruce Lee

Syn

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I'm sure you've had 100's of threads about Bruce Lee, but I was wondering. Am I the only one here who thinks of him as an actor more than some amazing fighter? I mean yes he is fast and quite defined, but he's nothing really beyond what a talented fighter should be. The one inch punch thing isn't so amazing when you see other things that kung fu practitioners can do (though you have to question whether it's real or not), and none of his philosiphies were his, they were all very old and had been around for a long time. America just realized that he wasn't anything beyond a good opera fighting actor, and that in China there were probably 100's if not 1000's like him. I'm sure I'll probably be attacked about this, but in all honesty I believe Jet Li to have much better Kung Fu than Bruce Lee.
 

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Wow, well you did bring about great points. You know in bodybuilding Schwarzenegger is the epitome, most well known by the general public. It is amazing that you brought this up. Bruce Lee to the Martial Arts is what Arnold is to bodybuilding.

Now if Arnold were to compete today he wouldn't even win the U.S.A. What these two people have in common is charisma. Sure, I bet there were tons of people that would have put Lee in the dirt. Wallace and Norris back in the day.

However, being a great fighter doesn't bring you notriety beyond the MA circle, not in any grand avenue.

Really, in all honesty...with the execption of the founders of styles like Choi, Ueshiba, Gen. Choi, Parker: Hapkido, Aikido, Tae Kwon Do, Parker's Kenpo. -- The best practitioners will be people you have never heard of.

I will use another example: Ji Han Jae and Won-Kwang Wha were students together under Choi. Besides practitioners of Moo Sul Kwan Hapkido, who has heard of Won-Kwang Wha? Everyone knows Ji Han Jae.
 

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Syn said:
I'm sure you've had 100's of threads about Bruce Lee, but I was wondering. Am I the only one here who thinks of him as an actor more than some amazing fighter? I mean yes he is fast and quite defined, but he's nothing really beyond what a talented fighter should be. The one inch punch thing isn't so amazing when you see other things that kung fu practitioners can do (though you have to question whether it's real or not), and none of his philosiphies were his, they were all very old and had been around for a long time. America just realized that he wasn't anything beyond a good opera fighting actor, and that in China there were probably 100's if not 1000's like him. I'm sure I'll probably be attacked about this, but in all honesty I believe Jet Li to have much better Kung Fu than Bruce Lee.

I don't really believe that "the best in the world" but at least his art was optimized for fighting, versus the likes of Jet Li who background was wushu. There is probably a reason why students went to study under him, including several of Ed Parker's ranking students. Two of them (Dan Inosanto & Larry Hartsell) have said in interviews that they "weren't able to touch" Bruce in sparring. Unfortunately, he never proved it in a ring so this is all just speculation.

Lamont
 

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Syn said:
America just realized that he wasn't anything beyond a good opera fighting actor.

No attack, just a correction. He was not trained in the Chinese Opera. His base was Wing Chun. And he was a talented Martial artist.
 

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Syn, I believe you have the right to your opinion, but I suggest you look into Li Jun Fan a little deeper first. You may have a different opinion later , or you may not. I just feel you should look deeper than what understanding you show. If later you still have this same opinion, that is your right and express it again if you like. Jet Li is amazing, but I would not put him into the same class as Bruce. Do you even know of the sparring footage of Bruce or who his quote challenge match was against? Bruce was no champion in any MA association but his theroies and skills have been proven. Jet Li has not. I ask that you look deeper into fact, rather than express an opinion on half-truth info. Get back to us if you find that your opinion will not change. This question may have been better addressed in the JKD area for posting, you will find a lot of insight that may help you see different. If you still feel that your expressed opinion is correct, that is your right to believe as you wish. A lot of people may try to put you right in their opinion, believe what you want, but it won't hurt you to inform yourself about Bruce before leveling Jet Li above him as a champion. Not an attack, just like to see a little more homework behind such an opinion. PEACE
 

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Syn said:
I'm sure you've had 100's of threads about Bruce Lee, but I was wondering. Am I the only one here who thinks of him as an actor more than some amazing fighter? I mean yes he is fast and quite defined, but he's nothing really beyond what a talented fighter should be. The one inch punch thing isn't so amazing when you see other things that kung fu practitioners can do (though you have to question whether it's real or not), and none of his philosiphies were his, they were all very old and had been around for a long time. America just realized that he wasn't anything beyond a good opera fighting actor, and that in China there were probably 100's if not 1000's like him. I'm sure I'll probably be attacked about this, but in all honesty I believe Jet Li to have much better Kung Fu than Bruce Lee.
Hey Syn my friend :) I have to say this is one of the funniest things I have heard in a while..:D Bruce Lee was the absolute epitome of martial artistry.. do not get me wrong.. there are many other great martial artists certainly but to suggest Bruce Lee was a half a$$ed excuse for an actor with a few fighting skills is just one of the oddest assertions I can imagine.. or maybe you are just being contentious?? ha!

I dont wanna rant I am not a Bruce groupie I like Jet A LOT too.. and but not only was Bruce Lee physically near perfect for his art.. he developed a fluid and impressive style out of his original WC.. he fought his way up doggedly through the streets of HK.. was fiery and passionate bout his art and successfully incorporated his studies in philosophy into his design of JKD.. I mean.. what more do you want in an artist? it takes more than the ability to KO or look fancy to qualify as a great martial artist.. there should be thought creativity and dare I say it.. a desire to enlighten involved and which I think we utterly forget in our little post Matrix dojos we inhabit, LOL.. if so many of us were not so focussed on that idea of hitting hard and looking pretty.. the world might see another Bruce Lee or Edmund Parker or whomever..

anyways.. ooooh big rant, ha! hey I am just passing thru this wing on my way to D Block.. ;)

bye bye now
Jenna from D Block
 

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What Bruce did for the martial arts in general was to bring exposer to the world. He was a very talented Gung fu person. He could learn in a short time what many would have took years to learn and understand. He brought credit to what people wanted to believe about the martialarts. he exposed false truths that were in the Martial art circles. To think he was more actor then a Martial artist Is not understanding him at all. sure he set the goal for fight seens far alltime in the movies. But for his size he was A good Martial artinst Sure others could have taken him in a fight But any body can be beat in a fight. He was not a superman but truely A Gung Fu man that hadwisdom enough to get to the core of fighting. Alot of what is called traditional M/A is added Crap that holds little to no value for real training just watered down training so any body can learn easyer. Real M/A gets more to the core of fighting And also more to the core of living. If you lookat what Bruce did in his short life you would have to say he was A natural for Gung Fu And understood alot even though he he learned from others he learned What others failed to see. Not braging on him But he was a M/A first actor second
 

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Robert Lee said:
What Bruce did for the martial arts in general was to bring exposer to the world. He was a very talented Gung fu person. He could learn in a short time what many would have took years to learn and understand. He brought credit to what people wanted to believe about the martialarts. he exposed false truths that were in the Martial art circles. To think he was more actor then a Martial artist Is not understanding him at all. sure he set the goal for fight seens far alltime in the movies. But for his size he was A good Martial artinst Sure others could have taken him in a fight But any body can be beat in a fight. He was not a superman but truely A Gung Fu man that hadwisdom enough to get to the core of fighting. Alot of what is called traditional M/A is added Crap that holds little to no value for real training just watered down training so any body can learn easyer. Real M/A gets more to the core of fighting And also more to the core of living. If you lookat what Bruce did in his short life you would have to say he was A natural for Gung Fu And understood alot even though he he learned from others he learned What others failed to see. Not braging on him But he was a M/A first actor second

Hate to disagree with you here Robert but it's the other way around. From his biography and his last interview you will see that he was clearly an actor first then a Martial Artist. He was a little tyke when he was in his first movie and acted up to 13 yrs. old (I think) also was Cha-cha dance champion of HK, but he was always either getting into trouble/fights or just hanging out with the wrong crowd and getting into fights/trouble. Thus he was sent to Yip-man and learned Wing Chun and from there sent to the U.S. and the rest is history.
In his last interview he calls himself "...an actor, as a martial artist, as a human being..." placing acting first. He loved the idea and the work of acting and tried his best to break into mainstream hollywood. All the while supporting his family with his skills as a martial artist by teaching what he knew. With his work as Kato he realized that he could combine the two talents and get the start in films that he wanted... fate would have it that he would get his start in his home-city of Hong Kong with Raymond Chow and the rest of Golden Harvest films.
Lee was a consumate Martial Artist and from his studies with the likes of SGM Ed Parker and numerous others combined what he learned and created his own art JKD. But it's really more of a philosophy than an art IMO.

Syn, definitely do a search on this site and you'll see how often and how deeply Lee has been discussed here. No matter what... the man was influential.
 

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profesormental

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Greetings!

Einstein, upon closer historical look, didn't invent the most important concepts for the theory of general relativity...

But he was the first to put it in a package that was understandable and useful for certain things...

The same is for Bruce Lee as he took the ideas of western philosophy (his degree), specially Jiddu Krishanmurti, and applied it to martial arts as to help understand chinese culture...

where business, spirituality, philosophy and the art of war are aspects of THE SAME THING!

He became popular for bringing into the light somethings that was obscure before... similarly as Arnold did for bodybuilding!

They were both examples of the best for their day. They were pioneers... first to do very important things for their fields...

As Einstein did!

Now a lot of progress has been done in physics; in mechanics and relativity the bounds are much more that Einstein ever thought!

Yet it is with his foundation and contribution taht we are guided in certain directions and they were the ones who did the work to give us this opportunity.

For this they deserve respect and appreciation.

as they say... "seek not to be like the Masters... seek what they seek!"

Sincerely,

Juan M. Mercado

P.S. To the Masters of the Past, Present and Future... we salute you!
 
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Syn

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Well I'm glad to see the quick activity of this thread, and the mixed opinions.

I may have gone too far to say that he was nothing but an actor. Though I don't agree that he is the epitome of Kung Fu. I don't think his personality and life style could fit the epitome of martial arts, but the true epitome no one would know of(Like Jimi said). I'm not sure why but most Chinese elder martial artists have little respect for him, and that may have brushed off on me myself, while I try to not let they're views effect me as much.

Also I heard (not confirmed this oculd be false) he only had about 2 or 3 years to teach JKD, but this must be false or it wouldn't have spread so much?

Anyways thanks for not just blatantly attacking me. Seems like everyone here is very mature and can handle arguments well.
 

MA-Caver

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Syn said:
Also I heard (not confirmed this oculd be false) he only had about 2 or 3 years to teach JKD, but this must be false or it wouldn't have spread so much?
Well he taught JKD or Jun-Fan Gung-fu for quite a while to support his family. Some of his students were noted actors like James Coburn and Steve McQueen to name a few.
But it would be a safe bet to say that JKD spread so much because of the success of his movies (particularly Enter The Dragon) and his untimely death and the sensationalism that went on afterwards. Plus that countless of imitators followed but never quite got up to par with him.
The more people found out about Bruce, the more they started taking JKD (or some other martial art). He helped in his own way.
This is not ragging on other MA-ists that went into films... Norris, Segal, Chan, Van Damme and Jet Li all were/are successful in their own right... because they were doing their own thing/art, not trying to be Bruce.
 

profesormental

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Greetings!

Most kung fu elders disliked him because he didn't care about many traditions because of his schooling which was mainly English schools in Hong Kong and university in the USA.

Also, he had attitude. Which was backed up with skill. That didn't go with the humbleness of masters.

He also disrespected, or violated the values of the Kung Fu elders of the time... so their reaction is understandable.

He also didn't have patience and as was said in other threads, taught people that already had a good foundation, and the few he taught from scratch where the ones that could pay $300 an hour.

So you are right in saying that he wasn't the "epitome" of Kung Fu, since by your definition, he was not.

My question is... what is a Kung Fu Master or Kung Fu "epitiome" to you? How would a Master behave, what would a Master think and value?

Enjoy!

Juan M. Mercado
 

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This is certainly a bizarre thread.

Lee was never primarily an actor. He had mostly minor (with exceptions) parts in Hong Kong movies as a child - but this wasn't a big influence on him - he even says as much.

During his return to Hong Kong, he trained literally 6+ hours EVERY DAY - he may have, and probably did die in part from overtraining.

Without further ado, I shall quote myself from an earlier thread:

Most of the modern American conception of masters as wise, serene old men seem to be taken from the movies and have little relationship if any to the historical behavior of the men we have regarded as masters.

I don't think anyone should question Bruce's skill either. At 33, he came further faster than perhaps any other unarmed fighter in history. He was always at the very cutting edge of sport training, for instance using pylometrics before the US Olympic track team did (he was probably one of the first dozen people outside the Soviet Union to do pylometrics). He was inhumanly fast, very, very technically skilled, extremely intellegent and analytical and clearly could fight very well.
And, incidentally, unlike most MA "masters" he had recorded proof.

The reputation he held among the other greats of his era should vindicate him of any slurs about his ability. Chuck Norris has called Lee a better fighter repeatedly. Gene LeBell said something to the effect that he was the best student of the martial arts he had seen. His mutual exchange of knowledge with Ed Parker deeply impressed Parker and led him to change a substantial amount of the Kenpo curriculum - Inosanto I believe said that everytime Parker and Lee met Parker would change a bunch of stuff. Long before Lee was famous, or for that matter at his fastest, Jhoon Rhee had sparred with him and said that Lee was so fast that he couldn't even touch Lee even after Lee purposely slowed down a bit - the only contact with Lee's feet lightly kicking him while he tried to go full contact.

When Lee went back to Hong Kong to film his movies, he met up with Yip Man, who clearly did not think of Lee as unskilled. Someone should dig up some of Yip Man's quotes about Lee; I don't remember their content but they were quite flattering. Wong Shun Leung (who was definately among the top 2 or 3 of Yip Man's personal students and was the defacto challenge match represtative for challenges made to Yip Man's person) felt that Bruce Lee had impressive Wing Chung even when he came back to Hong Kong although he did not agree with any of Bruce's other innovations, believing Wing Chung to be a perfect system.

As a point of technical skill, Lee clearly was at the top of his game.

Though he never completed Wing Chung (only getting down about one third of the syllabus), every Wing Chung leader I have heard commenting on him said that he was among the very best at the parts he knew.

As for the challenge match, it was against a man named Wong Jack-mon who was a Tai Chi expert recognized in San Francisco as a grandmaster at 32 (his age when he fought Lee). He engaged Lee head to head for less than ten seconds before he took off running - and it took Lee almost two minutes to catch him. When he did, Lee brought him to the ground with a western wrestling take down and proceeded to chain punch him for a few seconds, then stopped and asked if Wong wanted to give up, which he did. Lee said later that he should have been able to knock out Wong within the 10 seconds they were fighting head to head and shouldn't have had to chase him - this convinced him that rather than supplementing his Wing Chung with other stuff, it would be better to start a whole new system, seeking out good stuff wherever he could find it.

Lee was in tons of street fights. The reason he left Hong Kong in the first place is that he had beaten a triad leader into the hospital and the police told him to leave before the traid tried to take revenge on him. He was in numerous fights, both in the street, because he had rubbed a number of gangs the wrong way, and in official challenge matches against various martial arts styles. When he got to Seattle, he fought with people from the Edison technical college, several of whom later became his students. In Oakland, he had a "open door to challenges" and fought more than a few against various kung fu people who thought Wong's fight was not good enough. He also had some number of non-chinese people who decided to test their ability. He didn't lose any of them. There also is a story somewhere from a girl he was walking home in Oakland when he beat the living daylights out of three guys that tried to jump them with lead pipes.

Back in Hong Kong, he fought several fights against people who wanted to fight the big TV star (Green Hornet). On the set, he fought at least four different times against extras and stunt men who thought he was fake; these are well documented because there were many witnesses. At least once on the set he had a fight with a gang leader who was trying to extort protection money from the film crews. On the way back from lunch during filming he got in a fight with several members of a construction crew who were mocking him as he walked past.

There are surely many more fights and more detailed accounts of each of them out there if you look hard enough.
 

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I read the thread and the answers and sincerelly...I got lost.
Is the point here if he was the best fighter, symbol of kung fu or just an actor? Or all the above? Ok, my opinion...might not count hee hee, but here it is...

Best fighter! The expression best/strongest fighter always made me laugh. Everyone has got weak points that can be speed, technique, agility or so on. I could easily beat "John Doe" because my characteristics hits his weak points and "Joh Doe" can easily beat "John Smith", but it might be that "John Smith" has characteristics that hits my weak point and I can't beat him...who's the strongest?
If the reasoning is the way Bruce Lee would fight and the "smoothness" and precision of his movements, I cannot say anything not knowing the style. However consider that in his movies (if you watched his fights only in movies) he tried each fight till he was satisfied, with opponents who were not supposed to make his life hard, on the contrary they were supposed to make his movements come out the most perfect possible.
As per actor? Personally taking away the fighting part I don't think he would have ever won an Oscar.

I think what made Bruce Lee what he is now, it is the new kind of movie he made. To the western eyes a kung fu movie was no longer a couple of fighters in middle age years flying from roof to roof or on one leaf, or one person surrounded by 100 enemies and getting out without a scretch.
Bruce launched the kind of movies where kung fu was taken in the 70s', where the good guy could be any of us, where if he got punched in the mouth he would bleed like we all would. Jet Lee? Jacky Chan? Or many other Chinese actors that are making similar movie, might even be better than Bruce Lee...but they didn't create anything NEW!

Just my 2 cents.

(btw...I don't know how that sounds, but better style or not I don't care...I loved and will always love Bruce Lee).
 

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"There is probably a reason why students went to study under him, including several of Ed Parker's ranking students. Two of them (Dan Inosanto & Larry Hartsell) have said in interviews that they "weren't able to touch" Bruce in sparring. "

honestly im going to a Larry Hartsell seminar in sept, and i am going to ask about him about Lee.

how many of you could take Dan Inosanto or Larry Hartsell in a sparring match??? so if they say Bruce Lee was untouchable, then he probably was.

call me crazy, but i think they might know what they are talking about.
 

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quote=Rook
Though he never completed Wing Chung (only getting down about one third of the syllabus), every Wing Chung leader I have heard commenting on him said that he was among the very best at the parts he knew.

I have heard this several times, and was wondering if you know what of the formal curriculum he did not learn? It is a small system compared to many. Just three hand sets, the wooden dummy set, two weapons sets, chi-sau with hands and chi-gerk with feet, and some other useage and sensitivity drills that vary from school to school. Which parts to you believe he never learned?

As for the challenge match, it was against a man named Wong Jack-mon who was a Tai Chi expert recognized in San Francisco as a grandmaster at 32 (his age when he fought Lee). He engaged Lee head to head for less than ten seconds before he took off running - and it took Lee almost two minutes to catch him. When he did, Lee brought him to the ground with a western wrestling take down and proceeded to chain punch him for a few seconds, then stopped and asked if Wong wanted to give up, which he did. Lee said later that he should have been able to knock out Wong within the 10 seconds they were fighting head to head and shouldn't have had to chase him

This is not true. My sifu studied under Wong Jack-Man for about ten years in the 1970s, and Sifu Wong just recently retired from teaching. While Wong does teach Tai Chi, he is a kung fu master from the Jing Wu association. My sifu feels that the fight was really much more of a draw, with Wong and Lee ending on a friendly note, and the few people who were actually there to witness it have kept quiet about it. The true story of what happened is only known to a few, and all kinds of speculation has grown about what really happened. I saw an article written by other students of Wong who claim that Wong actually won the fight, but held back and declined to injure Lee, and even suggested that his defeat to Wong lead Lee to begin overtraining, which ultimately lead to his early death. Perhaps this is also speculation. The story changes depending on whose side you hear, and I don't pretend to have the answer. At any rate, my sifu feels that Wong was one of the rare, truly exceptional and gifted martial artists, and extremely capable in fighting. My point is that you should exercise a bit of caution when reciting these stories as Truth.

My opinion of Bruce Lee: He was a talented martial artist, very innovative and perhaps even truly gifted, but he was a lousy actor. Enter the Dragon was a horrible movie, with second-rate acting at best.
 

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Flying Crane said:
quote=Rook
Though he never completed Wing Chung (only getting down about one third of the syllabus), every Wing Chung leader I have heard commenting on him said that he was among the very best at the parts he knew.

I have heard this several times, and was wondering if you know what of the formal curriculum he did not learn? It is a small system compared to many. Just three hand sets, the wooden dummy set, two weapons sets, chi-sau with hands and chi-gerk with feet, and some other useage and sensitivity drills that vary from school to school. Which parts to you believe he never learned?

From my understanding, Lee knew all the hand sets, the wooden dummy work (he created a modified wooden dummy later) the chi-sau and some specialized drills that Wong S.L. taught. He knew part of the footwork - I know there have been a bunch of big debates in the WC and JKD circles about how much of the footwork he picked up from WC but it is fair to say some but not all... I don't know that we will ever figure out exactly how much he had. He didn't pick up any of the WC weapons stuff from what I have heard - he knew how to use several weapons from informal training before he left hong kong and I believe picked up some training later on - but never with wing chun weapons. Most of his weapons stuff in the movies is just stylized Escrima picked up from Inosanto's friends.

As for the challenge match, it was against a man named Wong Jack-mon who was a Tai Chi expert recognized in San Francisco as a grandmaster at 32 (his age when he fought Lee). He engaged Lee head to head for less than ten seconds before he took off running - and it took Lee almost two minutes to catch him. When he did, Lee brought him to the ground with a western wrestling take down and proceeded to chain punch him for a few seconds, then stopped and asked if Wong wanted to give up, which he did. Lee said later that he should have been able to knock out Wong within the 10 seconds they were fighting head to head and shouldn't have had to chase him
This is not true. My sifu studied under Wong Jack-Man for about ten years in the 1970s, and Sifu Wong just recently retired from teaching. While Wong does teach Tai Chi, he is a kung fu master from the Jing Wu association.

From my understanding, Wong was a Tai Chi and Northern longfist figher. Lee stated that he used Tai Chi in the fight, so I've run with that rather than his northern longfist.

My sifu feels that the fight was really much more of a draw, with Wong and Lee ending on a friendly note, and the few people who were actually there to witness it have kept quiet about it. The true story of what happened is only known to a few, and all kinds of speculation has grown about what really happened. I saw an article written by other students of Wong who claim that Wong actually won the fight, but held back and declined to injure Lee, and even suggested that his defeat to Wong lead Lee to begin overtraining, which ultimately lead to his early death.

I believe I have read the same or a similar article at one point - something about him declining to kick Lee because he was afraid he would kill Lee and that would bring legal consequences in America, and that he believed he had an opportunity to break Lee's neck but didn't.... However, though Wong apparently ran an ad in the Chinese language newspaper asking Lee for another fight more than a year after the fact, no one seems to have said that Wong won or even drew until after Bruce was dead and buried... I find this sounds more like a bit of revisionist history than the likely truth.

Perhaps this is also speculation. The story changes depending on whose side you hear, and I don't pretend to have the answer. At any rate, my sifu feels that Wong was one of the rare, truly exceptional and gifted martial artists, and extremely capable in fighting. My point is that you should exercise a bit of caution when reciting these stories as Truth.

I'm pretty confident that Lee's version was correct. I don't doubt that Wong was a capable fighter or that his reputation was well earned. I do doubt the version of events that emerged only after Bruce's death and seems rather comic-book like as well as opportunistic. If I'm not mistaken (and I might very well be about this part... its from an internet forum, not a reliable real source of any kind) one of Wong's own party, Jimmy Tung-Chen backs Lee's account.

My opinion of Bruce Lee: He was a talented martial artist, very innovative and perhaps even truly gifted, but he was a lousy actor. Enter the Dragon was a horrible movie, with second-rate acting at best.

Enter the Dragon was probably the worst of Lee's movies.

As for the others, I don't think that even very good acting would have suvived the dubbing process and the mistiming due to translation. Because sound wasn't used during filming with frequency, even the Chinese language versions had to be dubbed - and one thing that my friend Pete who is in film school pointed out is that very few people can dub movies well. Also, filming without having to worry about the sound has generally lead to theatric visual movements - look at any of the American movies made before real time sound and you see the same thing.
 

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Rook said:
I'm pretty confident that Lee's version was correct.

I'm actually pretty confident that any version of the story that is floating around in the general public is wrong. Each version may play up the portions that favor their side, but I doubt any of them are telling the whole truth.
 

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Flying Crane said:
I'm actually pretty confident that any version of the story that is floating around in the general public is wrong. Each version may play up the portions that favor their side, but I doubt any of them are telling the whole truth.

I believe this is exactly the case.
 
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