MovieChat Forums > Bruce Lee Discussion > Was Bruce Lee overrated?

Was Bruce Lee overrated?

Since there's quite a debate about that, specially after Tarantino's movie, let's go a bit deeper.

Was he a great fighter? The answer is he was a good one, but not a great one. This is the only recorded fight. It was a sparring with some students.

To compare, this is how Tarantino portrayed the fight in his movie.

So, was he overrated? No, he wasn't, but the problem is that he's often praised for the wrong reasons. Lee was an extremely creative person, the kind of person that keeps pushing boundaries and following a particular vision. That kind of personality doesn't make great fighters... but it makes great innovators.

In Martial Arts, he was the one that started to integrate different Martial Arts and combine them with western techniques. That seems obvious right now, but it wasn't that obvious until somebody did it. He was a very important figure in the development of modern Mixed Martial Arts. He didn't invent them, but he was the one to lay the foundation stone.

In Movies, again, he was the one that started to integrate real combat movements in Hong Kong martial arts movies. Back in the 70s, martial arts movies were based in Chinese Opera simulated fights. Jackie Chan, for example, was not trained as a martial artist but as an actor for Chinese Opera. I'm not kidding. This is how it looks:

If you see Hong Kong movies from late 60s and early (and even late) 70s, you can notice this. Check Come Drink With Me, or Snake in the Eagle's Shadow. Bruce Lee influenced Hong Kong movies in late 70s and 80s, and because of that, he contributed to modern Western action movies, heavily influenced by Hong Kong action movies from the 70s-80s.

People often praise him as the 'Greatest Fighter'. He wasn't. He could have been a pro (had been something like UFC back in the day), but probably nothing more. However, his vision and his contributions were extremely important. He was some kind of 'Steve Jobs' figure in his field. This one, and no other, it's the reason why he should be praised.



You're overrated.


Absolutely not ! The man was incredible !






But he is overrated -

Here is a list of his super human abilities -

Needless to say, most of it is bullshit.


Chuck Norris has more superhuman abilities, yet he was beaten by Bruce Lee.



The difference is, everyone knows chuck norris 'facts' are jokes. The Bruce Lee 'facts' are thought to be real.


Yeah, this article was funny... mostly full of hearsay, rumours and more than a bit of stupidity.

I can do Dragon Flags... I'm in my sixties, pretty fit for my age and I can't do them as well as my youth, but they are not that hard for anyone who works out with regularity. (The hard part isn't holding them per se... it's actually doing repetitions as Stallone did in his movie.)

His famous 1-inch punch is actually a push using his whole body. That's clear in the video. All he has to do is move his opponent a inch or two for him to fall into the chair because the opponent is simply standing there with his feet BESIDE each other. Lee leans forward and delivers a sharp push with a closed fist. This is a demonstration of poor stance, not power. If the opponent were standing in an actual lowered combat stance, nothing would have happened here.
I could that with a simple push myself... and I'm a long way from superhuman.

On the subject of his speed, that seems to be accurate, but there is still an element of exaggeration to it. There's a famous video that shows him swiftly delivering a blow to an opponent at a demonstration in California somewhere. The blow is delivered before the opponent can react to it. However, the longer version of the video and the story behind it is also available on youtube. The opponent was Vic Moore, a famous black martial artist also renown for his speed, who actually stops Lee's first attempt. When Lee did it the second time -- the part most often seen in the short version of the video -- Lee actually changed up the blow after misleading him about which blow he was going to use.


Lee was obviously fit, talented, charismatic, innovative... but his myth has exceeded his actual history.


Bruce Lee was like Donald Trump, he liked to brag about how great he was... Then because he died young people ignored the fact that he liked to brag and just let that fact slide and took him at his word for how great he was. Frankly you've got some exaggeration in your little rant as well. Mixed martial arts was around long before Bruce Lee was even born. Go look at what was happening in Brazil and you'll figure it out. One could make an argument that Lee show Americans what MMA was but he didn't invent it, not even close.


I like Bruce Lee (and think he was a great Martial Artist in his own right) but for (almost) 50 years, these urban myths have been taken as gospel, by fans and friends alike. Because he never fought competitively, a lot of conjecture has gone a long way in solidifying of legacy of 'What-If's' and 'Maybes'.....But from the (extensive) stuff, I've seen and read about him, he's nowhere this unbeatable fighter he's made out to be (then ever is) He did seem a little pompous and vain at times (but that's expected of 'actors', I guess?)
As an actual fighter and MA practitioner, he was superfit and quick. In his own weight division, I reckon he'd have done very well.....But would have found trouble with bigger, heavier fighters. I wish he'd have made a few more movies before he died) or better yet, not died at all. He seemed to be experimenting with (what would be the blueprint for) MMA with 'Game Of Death'....and showed great possibilities of showcasing an all-round 'form' that encompassed any/all styles. Shame he never finished that movie.

As for being overrated....I'd say 'yes'....Although, I'd point out that it's no fault of his own....more due to the fact that he's been dead longer than alive (and myth has been taken as fact)
BTW, I care little what that Lantern-jawed hack Tarantino thinks about Bruce Lee


Maybe it's anecdotal, but didn't Lee himself admit that someone like Ali would have beaten him easily in a match?


All I can say is I wish he were alive so he could kick Brad Pitt's and Quentin Tarantino's asses and dump them at dead terrible-actors&directors storage!