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Top 5 Legendary Facts About Bruce Lee

VO: Chris Masson
Script written by Sean Harris He brought martial arts to mainstream cinema, boasting a level of skill that few, if any, can match. Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Facts. In this instalment we're counting down the five most fascinating things that you probably didn't know about Bruce Lee! We'll be sticking to things that we could actually verify as true, so you won't hear anything about him playing ping-pong with nunchucks–that was a digital creation, and didn't actually happen. What did you think of this video? Submit your ideas for our next instalment of WMFacts at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 5 Legendary Facts About Bruce Lee


He brought martial arts to mainstream cinema, boasting a level of skill that few, if any, can match. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Facts. In this instalment we're counting down the five most fascinating things that you probably didn't know about Bruce Lee! We’ll be sticking to things that we could actually verify as true, so you won’t hear anything about him playing ping-pong with nunchucks–that was a digital creation, and didn’t actually happen.

#5: He Could Dance as Well as He Could Fight

We all know about his fists, but Lee also had feet of fury! For kicking, sure, but also for dancing. In the ‘50s, a young Bruce Lee built a reputation as a street fighter in Hong Kong… He even ran with a gang called, ‘The Tigers of Junction Street’! However, his co-ordination also earned him surprising recognition as a dancer! Shortly before leaving for America in 1958, Lee actually became a national dance champion when he won The Crown Colony Cha-Cha Championship! His parents knew that he was destined for even greater things through Martial Arts though, and packed him off on a ship to the States accordingly! Without a lot of money to his name still, while travelling to the US Lee utilised his second skill, and charged his fellow steamship passenger for dance lessons!

#4: An Extra Challenged Lee on Set, and Lost

As Lee’s fame increased, so did the challenges against him. Never one to back down, he reportedly once had an encounter with an extra, on the set of “Enter the Dragon”. The story goes that the young man taunted Lee, and he was eventually like “com at me, bro.” Though the kid was apparently pretty good, all accounts describe Lee’s systematic deconstruction of his opponent. And afterwards, Lee gave his rival a lesson on how to improve his technique! Another, similar anecdote to come out of “Enter the Dragon.” A young Jackie Chan was working on the film, when Lee accidentally smashed him in the face with a stick! Chan laughed the incident off though, more grateful to be touched by his idol than anything else!

#3: Lee’s Corpse is on Film

For all Lee’s triumph, he led a tragically short life as well, starring in just five movies before he suddenly died at the age of 32. At the time of his passing, Lee was midway through production of the appropriately named, “Game of Death”. In order to complete the film, writers wrote around Lee’s absence by having his character fake his own death. It sparked a bit of controversy, however, as actual footage of Lee’s memorial, including close-ups of his open casket, were used in the final cut! Also in the final cut were a few moments where it was very clear that a body double–or a cardboard cutout–was standing in for Lee.

#2: Lee Helped Bring Martial Arts to the West

It used to be that Gung Fu practitioners believed the martial should only be taught by the Chinese, to the Chinese. Bruce saw it differently. He opened up a school in San Francisco that didn’t discriminate. As his fame grew, so did the profile of his clientele, which including Hollywood celebrities Steve McQueen and James Coburn, and NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. His teaching, and the fact that he was a movie star at a time when there was still a lot of prejudice towards Asian people in Hollywood, made Lee instrumental in bringing martial arts to America and beyond.

#1: Lee Was Too Fast for the Cameras

Just how fast was Bruce Lee? There are lots of stories on the internet that are hard to actually confirm as fact. For instance, we couldn’t find any footage or eyewitness testimony of him grabbing grains of rice out of the air with chopsticks, as many sites claim he was able to do. Another popular legend we couldn’t confirm is that they had to shoot his fight scenes at a higher frame rate because he was too fast to be caught at 24 frames per second. Whether that’s true or not, he could clearly move fast enough to look like a blur on film. He did say that he learned to slow down his technique for the benefit of the camera. And still, if you slow down some of his moves, you can often see that what you thought was just one strike was actually two!

What do you think, how much of Bruce Lee is legend, and how much is fact? Until next time, in the words of Lee himself, ‘Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.’ For more tough guy Top 10s and drunken master Top 5s, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com!

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