Li vs Lee: Who is the Greatest?
If you have ever been in a debate about who is the greatest martial artist of all time, the shortlist more often than not comes down to the 2 greats; Jet Li and Bruce Lee. But if you had to pick just one, who would it be, and why?
If you want to know about either of these great men in terms of their personal life, please use the links below:
Bruce Lee: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Lee
Due to the unfortunate death of Bruce Lee in in 1973, we will never know who is the greatest for sure. Lee was never given the time to expand his career to the extent that Li has. But whatever your view, these 2 men have created some incredible cinema for us all to enjoy.
We are not brave enough or able to decide which one is truly the best, so here are some key reasons why both men deserve the title of "The Greatest".
Although he died at the early age of 32, what Lee achieved in those years is simply staggering, and for that reason alone his status as the greatest ever is surely beyond doubt?
Lee started training in Wing Chun when he was 13 years old, but by 1967 he had developed his own style of Kung Fu, known as Jeet Kune Do. Lee determined that his current knowledge of Kung Fu was not enough, and that what he had learnt was too formalised and rigid to be effective in the chaotic nature of street fights. Because of this he developed his own style, Jeet Kune Do, which is still taught today.
Lee's fight history is very colourful and impressive (as you would expect!), with a mixture of street fights, challenges and competitions. The most notable reports of fights are as follows:
- Defeated three-time champion British boxer Gary Elms, by way of knock-out, in the third round in 1958
- A man broke into Lee's home to challenge him. Lee was reported to be so mad that he gave the intruder "the hardest kick he had ever given anyone in his life"
- Lee was challenged by a film-extra whilst filming Enter The Dragon. Lee accepted the challenge and defeated the extra
Bruce Lee has starred in some of the greatest martial arts films of all times. For a full list, we recommend you have a read through here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000045/ Some of the greatest films Lee starred in (as well as directed and produced in some cases) are:
- Fist of Fury
- Enter the Dragon
- Way of the Dragon
Lee also made numerous TV appearances, including in the TV series of Batman and The Green Hornet.
Bruce Lee brought Kung Fu to Hollywood more than any other actor, crossing that great divide between the 2. He made the genre cool and mainstream, and the industry today owes a lot of its success to the work done by Bruce Lee during his career.
And what better legacy is their for a martial artist than the students you have trained. The biggest names on that list are Brandon Lee, Steve McQueen and Chuck Norris. In particular Chuck Norris is worth mentioning. He is now the subject of an infinite number of internet jokes, sayings and mocked-up pictures, all illustrating the fact that Chuck Norris is the hardest man alive. Chuck Norris owes that reputation to the martial arts he learned from the great Bruce Lee.
Jet Li is the biggest name in martial arts today, easily surpassing the likes of Jackie Chan etc. His film biography is very impressive, with a large collection of Kung Fu and Hollywood films, proving that his career as truly closed the divide between the 2.
What is most impressive about Li's career though is his martial arts beginnings. Li started training in Wushu in Beijing at the age of 8, and by the age of 12 was national champion (in the adult's championship!) He was 5-time champion by the end of his competing career, retiring at the humble age of 19 to concentrate on his acting career.
Li's film list is a testimony to his ability to be in both Kung Fu and Hollywood films. He has worked with the biggest names in Hollywood, and starred in some of the best Kung Fu films of recent times. It could be said that his film career is far greater than that of Bruce Lee, even if you take the fact that Lee died at 32 into account.
For a full list of Li's films, please go to: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001472/
Some of Li's greatest films include:
- Once Upon a Time in China
- The Expendables
- Lethal Weapon 4
- Kiss of the Dragon
- The Mummy: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
The list above is just a selection of Li's career, and maybe an indication that his film career eclipses that of Bruce Lee?