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#33 Jet Li & Bruce Lee

Posted March 13th, 2008 by avaliant · 24 Comments
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Bruce LeeWithout exception, every Asian male under the age of 25 has at one point idolized Jet Li, and if they are old enough (or watch older movies), Bruce Lee. In dojos and college campus martial arts groups across the country, thousands of young Asian men train regularly in order to become the next great martial artist. But aside from being martial arts practitioners, these two actors/martial artists have captured the hearts of Asians everywhere.
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Jet Li, and to a lesser extent due to age, Bruce Lee movies are extremely popular among Asians. As soon as a new Jet Li martial arts flick comes out (especially if it is directed by a Chinese director and produced in China, think Hero or Fearless), even elderly Asian parents will consider it an acceptable form of entertainment in social situations. Of course the film will be watched on a disc of questionable origin that was purchased in Asia somewhere and brought back by the last relative that traveled there (who goes out to theaters?). But great care must be taken when discussing Jet Li with true martial arts enthusiasts. Being a fan of Jet Li’s more recent Chinese produced films is okay, but it is considered amateurish at the best to hold in high regard any of Jet Li’s American films such as Kiss of the Dragon or The One. True martial arts snobs will insist that only his older Chinese films such as Once Upon a Time in China or, I should say, Wong Fei Hung have any merit.

Jet Li

So why are Bruce Lee and Jet Li revered especially among Asian males? Because they represent the hope that any Asian male can become one of the baddest mofo’s in history had they simply dedicated their childhood to training rather than studying. Yao Ming (see basketball) also to a lesser extent represents this hope. But not everyone can be born seven feet tall with a soft hook shot. Quick note: why doesn’t Jackie Chan also fit this role? After all, isn’t he a popular martial artist/actor? Although it is true that Jackie Chan is a certifiable badass, his movies, while enjoyable, contain too much comedic element to intimidate sufficiently. Accordingly, Jet Li and Bruce Lee alone represent the everyman, the great hope that even though “I might have a bowl haircut, wire-frame glasses, and letter in debate and math team instead of football, I could have been one of the most feared men in the world.”









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Tags: Activities · Chinese · Culture · Famous · Films and Movies · History · Martial Arts · People

24 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Peter // Mar 13, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    I found some pretty weird info:

    Though the official cause of Lee’s death was listed as cerebral edema caused by an allergic reaction to the painkiller Equagesic, the mystery surrounding his passing has endured to this day with numerous conspiracy theories abounding. To compound matters, Lee’s son Brandon was tragically killed on the set of The Crow, a film that could have made him a star had he lived. This bizarre accident only further added credence to stories of a so-called “Curse of the Dragon.” Whatever the truth, Lee’s obvious charisma coupled with his untimely death has vaulted his life story to the stuff of myth and legend, spawning a legion of devotees and countless imitators. So in that sense, the Dragon will never die. (Sanjuro 2003)

  • 2 Danny // Mar 13, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Who else can we look up to other than Bruce and Jet? Sometimes I say Bruce Lee is in my family tree because we have the same last name…(jk)

    I’m going to go Bai Sun right now.. =(

  • 3 Aimee // Mar 13, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Feeling this one! I’m Caucasian and my boyfriend’s Asian. We both love Jet Li movies, but I have to drag him to his American ones. He always ends up loving them, but he’s gotta front to his friends that he doesn’t! Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee were such charismatic people and great presences on screen. It’s such a tragedy that they’re gone.

  • 4 Justin // Mar 13, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Jet Li and Bruce Lee are my heroes! I’ve always wanted to learn karate but was never flexible enough to do the splits

  • 5 avaliant // Mar 14, 2008 at 1:40 am

    Dude, the current poll does not even have Jackie Chan’s greatest movie ever, which is “Who Am I?”

  • 6 Justin // Mar 14, 2008 at 1:53 am

    wow, that was probably a movie in china… many people have not heard of it including myself… what’s who am i about? =(

  • 7 YASPY Chick // Mar 14, 2008 at 5:26 am

    Jet Li is cool…and a family man. He dropped out of Crouching Tiger because he wanted to be with his wife and kid(s).

  • 8 ohhhwhen // Mar 14, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    Your site is looking REALLY good Peter! Congrats! I love how it’s going public and people are reading your super cool posts. Keep it up! :]

  • 9 Peter // Mar 18, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Thanks!!

  • 10 zimri // Mar 21, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    “The One” was awful, just awful. I look forward to that one headlining the blog, “Stuff No People Like”.

    What about Bruce’s son Brandon?

  • 11 Thinlee // Apr 23, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    I like mostly action movies. esp. the Jet Li n Bruce Lee n many more other action hero.

  • 12 Steve // May 13, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    I luv Bruce Lee. Jet Li… uummmm..?? lol

  • 13 amanda // Jun 8, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    NO. ITS JACKIE CHAN.

  • 14 McGeorge // Aug 2, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Who doesn’t love Bruce Lee and Jet Li? Blacks, Whites and Latinos all love these guys too.

  • 15 Kiknarse // Sep 21, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Bruce Lee and Jet Li are awesome. Although I think Jet Li lacks power like the Bruce Dragon.

    I agree with this websites assessment 100%.

    Bruce Lee, Jet Li, are my heroes and thank god you barely mention that ass of a clown, jackie chan.

    I’d just like to add that one of the best muy thai fight scenes are by Tony Jaa and if in real life he does fight like that – tightly and nicely angled elbows and knee blows – that he has got to be one of the best muy thai style fighter I’ve seen.

    Kikn Arse!

  • 16 Sanpincha // Jan 24, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Tony Jaa is really good too.

  • 17 ThisListSucks // Feb 23, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    The fact that Bruce Lee is stuck at #33 invalidates this entire list. I like Jet Li, and Jackie is better than anything Hollywood has produced – ever – but Bruce should be in the top five. Hell, put him number one and you won’t get much of an argument.

    Without Bruce, there would be no Jackie Chan, and no Jet Li. Fact.

    For the greatest opinion piece ever written in the history of of mankind, read this:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/opinion/why_was_i_not_informed_about

  • 18 ThisListSucks // Feb 23, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I meant to say that Jackie is better than anything Hollywood has produced outside of Enter the Dragon. I apparently got too carried away with the awesomeness of Bruce. He has that affect on people. My deepest apologies.

  • 19 IThinkTheyAre Overrated // Jan 20, 2010 at 9:22 am

    I think you should include these MA film actors:

    Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao

    Donnie Yen is fluent in English btw.

  • 20 KR // Feb 12, 2010 at 12:53 am

    that guy in the video is awesome. All he need snow is the practise running up the wall , and try to take more than two steps when running across it. Learn some proper martial arts and he’ll be unstoppable.

    Although the title urban ninja isn’t that good. Ninjas are meant to be stealthy not flashy

  • 21 Wai // Feb 20, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Martial arts are part of our heritage; it is the obligation of every asian person both male and female to learn a martial art of some sort, it is a good idea to also incorporate weight training; take a lesson from Bruce Lee who dedicated his life to martial arts and built- up his body to near perfection; if you want to change our image follow his lead.
    Asian parents should enroll their children at a young age; and stop looking at it as a stereotype as many older generation AB’s would lead us to believe. It builds character and confidence. Martial arts are a part of our heritage, it appears as though the only ones who are doing them these days are westerners.

  • 22 Hair Straighteners // Sep 5, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    I love your website!da

  • 23 Peter // Sep 26, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    I’m actually in China studying Wushu right now.

  • 24 Indigo // Jan 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Did you seriously just bash Jackie Chan?! Go watch Bruce Lee’s movies again. And not “Enter the Dragon”(for the umpteenth time). How about “Return of The Dragon”? I recall a famous fight scene with Chuck Norris that was kicked off, not with the sound of a bell, but with the yeowl of an alley cat! How’s that for comedy? Watch Bruce and Jackie side-by-side. They’re acting (not fighting) style is almost identical.

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