Martial art films have been around for quite a long time. But it wasn’t before the legendary Hong Konger Bruce Lee reached the silver screen during the 1970′s that martial arts flicks became mainstream.
Little Dragon (Xiao Long), as he was known back in Hong Kong, arrived in the United States in 1958. He was only 18 then and had big dreams. Life in the US wasn’t a cakewalk. So initially he had to abandon his idea of making a career in the film industry. The dragon was not to waken until 1966, when a television series “The Green Hornet” was released.
It wasn’t a happy ending for Lee after “The Green Hornet.” There were many setbacks but he ultimately did what he intended to do: he made martial arts mainstream in the West.
Later Bruce Lee would appear in several films and demonstrate his Wing Chun skills.
Contrary to what’s common perception, Bruce Lee practised Wing Chun, and not Kung Fu. Unlike its Shaolin Temple counterpart, Wing Chun doesn’t have a history spanning several millennia. It is a relatively new martial art form which emerged during the 16th and 17th centuries in China.
Bruce Lee made Wing Chun popular through movies like this:
After Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan is the most popular Hong Konger in the world. But unlike his fellow, he was never an expert practitioner of Wing Chun. Jackie Chan instead practises Kung Fu (in a rather jolly way). He may no longer be an active star in films, but his legacy continues through films like these:
It is also impossible to deny Arnold Schwarzenegger his rightful place. Like Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, through his films Schwarzenegger has helped make martial arts more mainstream.
Here is the Austrian body builder in action in “Terminator:”
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