Well-known actor and martial arts master Jackie Chan began his career as a stuntman in action movies. His style of fighting and acting not only made him a superstar in Asia but also earned him roles in Hollywood films. In his journey, Chan tried to define a style for himself rather than emulating a specific actor.
Bruce Lee also made a mark in the West with his action movies before Chan. In his 2015 autobiography, ‘Never Grow Up,’ Jackie revealed how, after Lee’s death, many expected him to be the next Lee, but he resisted that role. One such incident happened during the making of the movie ‘New Fist of Fury,’ where the director, Lo Wei, tried to make Chan like Lee in the film. The actor wrote:
“I played a cold-blooded, rage-filled, inhuman killer who sought revenge only. Nothing about the role spoke to me, and so my performance was stiff and unconvincing.”
Chan then expressed his objections to his manager, Willie Chan, saying:
“I’m not suited for this role. The director wants me to be the next Bruce Lee, but that’s not the direction I want to go in.”
Chan and Lee had similarities in their martial arts backgrounds. Both learned Wing Chun, and Chan added Northern and Southern Shaolin kung fu to his skills. They both used a variety of martial arts styles, including Western boxing and hapkido, in their fighting.
Despite some similarities, the two actors had distinct martial arts styles in their movies. Lee focused on speed and power, while Chan was known for his acrobatics and agility. These differences were reflected in their on-screen personas. According to Chan in ‘Never Grow Up,’ Lee appeared superhuman and won fights quickly, while Chan’s fights were more extended and featured acrobatics and improvisation.
Chan had small roles in two Bruce Lee films, ‘Fist of Fury’ and ‘Enter the Dragon.’ In ‘Fist of Fury,’ he was a stunt double for a Japanese villain, Hiroshi Suzuki, in the final fight scene. In ‘Enter the Dragon,’ he played a minor henchman who meets his demise at the hands of Lee’s character.