They are two of the biggest legends of the martial arts movies – Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Renowned worldwide for both their fighting talent and their star appeal, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan are two of the most recognisable names in Asian and American cinema. Pioneers in their own right, they changed the way Asian actors were viewed in the Western world, forged a cult following and cemented their statuses as legendary Hollywood stars when they received their respective Hollywood stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
But what would happen if these two superstars went one on one in a fight on the streets? No, we never saw this happen in real life but as always, we are here to predict what the outcome between these two martial artists will be. But first, let’s see what both men bring into the fight arena.
The name Bruce Lee is instantly synonymous with martial arts in the West. And this is because Bruce Lee is considered the most influential martial artist of all time; a man who closed the gap between the East and the West and brought worldwide attention to Chinese martial arts.
Born on November 27, 1940, in the Chinatown area of San Francisco, Lee was the son of a Cantonese opera star Lee Hoi-Chuen. Although he was born in America, Lee spent his early years raised in Kowloon, Hong Kong, the place of origin of both his parents. As a film star, Lee’s father introduced him to the film industry at a very young age, leading to Lee starring roles as a child actor in several movies. But being a child star was not Bruce Lee’s ultimate ambition. Instead, he wanted to become a martial artist. And from a very young age, he took a keen interest in learning martial arts.
Lee got into several street fights in his early years and when his parents realised the young lad needed help to defend himself, they decided to enroll him into a martial arts school. This was where Lee began his training in Wing Chun. Lee also learned Tai Chi and Boxing while constantly being engaged in street fighting. In high school, Lee took formal training in Boxing, becoming a high school Boxing Champion in the process.
When Lee turned 18, he returned to the United States to pursue a degree at the University of Washington, Seattle. During his time there, Lee began to teach martial arts and at the 1964 Long Beach International Karate Championships, he began to draw lots of attention to himself thanks to his super performances in the competition.
In the 1970s, the movie industry came calling again. Lee starred in a series of movies in the 1970s, including “The Big Boss”, “Fist of Fury”, “Way of the Dragon”, “Enter the Dragon” and “The Game of Death”. Thanks to his movies, Lee became an instant movie icon all over the world. In China, he was adored for his war at defying Asian stereotypes and his portrayal of Chinese nationalism in his films. While developing his fighting style, Lee combined elements of physical combat which he learned from Wing Chun, Tai Chi, Street Fighting and Boxing to develop his personal martial arts philosophy which he called Jeet Kune Do. His art philosophy and his interpretation of martial arts went a long way in influencing modern combat sports, including Karate, Judo, MMA, and Boxing.
On July 20, 1973, Lee died at the age of 32 in the prime of his career. Ever since, he has widely been regarded as one of the most influential figures in martial arts history.
Like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan also hails from Hong Kong. Born on April 7, 1954, as Chan Kong-sang, Chan’s parents were refugees from the Chinese Civil War. They were so poor that they had to borrow money for their health care. Because of his energetic character, often found rolling around and having fun, his parents nicknamed him Pao-pao, which can be translated as cannonball. This is a defining attribute that would eventually shine through his acting career as well.
Chan’s parents finally found work as assistants to a French ambassador. And because of this, Chan spent his formative years living in the residence of the counsellor in Victoria Peak district, Hong Kong. After a rough start at schooling, Chan was enrolled at the China Drama Academy which was a Peking Opera School managed by Master Yu Jim-yuen.
In the following 10 years, Chan trained very hard and excelled in acrobatics and martial arts. He became a part of a group called Seven Little Fortunes which was made up of the 7 best students of the school. While in the film industry, Chan got the opportunity to train in Hapkido under the tutelage of a grandmaster by the name of Jin Pal Kim. Eventually, Chan’s devotion to the training earned him a black belt.
Chan’s first major breakthrough in the film industry was in the movie “Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow”. Following this, his appearance in “Drunken Master” brought him mainstream recognition. He would eventually go on to star in other successful movies, including “Rumble in the Bronx”, “Rush Hour” alongside Chris Tucker, “The Accidental Spy”, “Around the World in 80 Days”, “The Forbidden Kingdom”, “The Spy Next Door”, “Karate Kid”, and a host of others.
Although Bruce Lee and Chan did not spend much time together (no thanks to Lee’s unfortunate death), the two stars shared the screen in the movie “Enter the Dragon”. Although those were still very early days for Chan, the two stars struck a chord and became good friends after the movie.
Chan has been asked who would have won in a fight between himself and Bruce Lee, and as modest as he always is, he responded saying he won’t stand a chance against the martial arts legend. But how true is that? Let’s find out!
To settle this bout, we’ll split the fight into 4 categories in which each fighter would be awarded a maximum 10 points based on their resume in each category. The fighter with the most cumulative points will be declared the winner. So, let the fight begin!
Bruce Lee is considered a martial arts legend and to be frank, it’s unarguable. This man practically designed his own martial arts philosophy; Jeet Kune Do, which has influenced modern combat sports today. That’s the definition of a true legend. In addition to this, he mastered various martial arts including Wing Chun, Tai Chi, Boxing, Taekwondo, and Street Fighting. This man had it all and you could see it in his movies as well. Although Jackie Chan has a martial arts background in Hapkido and Wushu, he’s more known for his ability as a stuntman and as an actor. This is not to diminish his fighting pedigree in any way but to be honest, he is nowhere close to Bruce Lee when it comes to martial arts pedigree. This one comfortably goes to Lee. 9 points to Bruce Lee and 6 points for Jackie Chan.
Jackie Chan stands at 5’7” and at his peak he weighs 65 kg. On the other hand, Bruce Lee stood at 5’8” and weighed 64 kg. Both stars were of practically the same build. Consequently, there is no way to separate these two guys in this department. They both had the perfect physique for their fighting styles. So, we’ll give 8 points to both stars.
For this, you might have to watch both stars in action. And when you do, the difference is clear. Bruce Lee was a freak of nature whose devotion to his art and the execution of his style made him a formidable fighter. Even on set, he was a fearful fighter to work with. Chan, on the other hand, though incredibly skilled as well, didn’t have as much ferocity as Lee. Often taking a defensive approach to his fighting style, Chan was not as dominant a fighter as Lee was. For this category, it’s 9 points to Lee and 7 to Chan.
If there is one thing Jackie Chan excels at, it is his uncanny ability to improvise at will. Chan is a brilliant fighter and has mastered the art of not just adapting to his environment but using it to his advantage no matter where he found himself. Lee’s Jeet Kune Do philosophy also involved elements of improvisation. But we have to give this to Chan. 9 points to Jackie Chan, 7 points for Bruce Lee.
The verdict: with 33 points to Bruce Lee and 30 points to Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee claims a well deserved victory.
Do you agree with our verdict? Let us know what you think in the comments below. Thanks for watching. We’ll see you in our next video.
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