Why Jackie Chan Refused To Use Bruce Lee’s Fighting Style


Jackie Chan refused to use by Bruce Lee fighting style while making kung fu films in the 1970s. After Lee’s death in 1973, Hong Kong’s film industry tried tirelessly to find a new actor who could fill the void left by the legend martial arts. Meanwhile, Jackie Chan was among many actors identified as candidates to become the next Bruce Lee.


Efforts to turn Chan into a replacement for Bruce Lee called for him to do more than just act like Lee in his movies. Chan was also supposed to fight like the late actor. In his autobiography, Never grow up, Chan said the filmmakers asked him to mimic Lee through his movements and expressions. Not only did Chan feel that Lee was somebody”no one could ever surpassbut he also felt that Lee’s fighting style as a whole wasn’t working for him. An example of this provided in the book is the claim that Lee tended to execute high kicks, while Chan preferred low kicks to the ground. before shooting Serpent in the shadow of the eagleLee convinced film producer Ng See-Yuen to let him down”a whole other way.”

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How Jackie Chan’s Fighting Style Compares To Bruce Lee’s

Granted, Chan and Lee have a few things in common when it comes to their martial arts backgrounds. Lee grew up learning Wing Chun, a style of kung fu designed to counterattack. Chan also learned Wing Chun, but his foundation came primarily from his Northern and Southern Shaolin kung fu training. And like Lee, Chan ultimately used a diverse approach to combat that encompassed multiple styles of martial arts. Both are known to use kung fu, but were also willing to incorporate stances and movies related to western boxing, hapkido, and more.

Although there are similarities, their films clearly show that Lee and Chan are totally different as martial artists. Lee focused on speed, power and execution. Chan, on the other hand, was much more acrobatic in his approach, as his kung fu training and natural talents had turned him into an incredibly agile fighter. All of this eventually translated to the big screen as well, with their respective skills lending to the images they developed as martial arts stars. In Chan’s own words in Never grow upLee appeared as “superhuman” and defeated his opponents blow after blow. Unlike Lee, Chan engaged in longer fights and often relied on acrobatics and improvised fighting to win.

Why Jackie Chan Couldn’t Become the Next Bruce Lee

When Chan was still being groomed to become the next Bruce Lee, he starred in a series of films which included New Fist of Fury (a sequel to by Bruce Lee fist of fury), Shaolin wooden men, Kill with intrigue, and more. As Chan acknowledged in his book, they bombed at the box office because viewers were unimpressed with his performance. And after having had the chance to make a film in his own way with Serpent in the shadow of the eagle, Jackie Chan’s career took a turn for the better. It was discovered that when the actor was allowed to do comedy and his own brand of fighting, audiences responded much better to his films.

NEXT: Why Jackie Chan Never Joined Stallone’s Expendables Movies

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