But Fist of Fury is the real Bruce in all his nunchuck spinning glory. It’s loosely based on the history of the Chin Woo Athletic Association, which remains one of the largest international martial arts organizations to this day. When Bruce shattered the ‘No Dogs and Chinese Allowed’ sign with a soaring flying kick, it became a battle cry for the racially oppressed worldwide, firmly cementing Bruce as the world’s first Asian global superstar.
Come Drink with Me (1966)
Long before Charlize Theron went Atomic Blonde, Cheng Pei Pei blazed a path as Golden Swallow, the mysterious invincible swordswoman, and all female action heroines are in her wake. Fiercely independent and savagely lethal, Cheng delivers several sophisticated long-take fight scenes, the hallmark of real Kung Fu skill, with the poise and precision built upon her foundation in ballet. Cheng is remembered in Hollywood as Jade Fox from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and played the matchmaker in Disney’s live-action Mulan. Note that Amazon Prime also has the sequel, Golden Swallow, but it’s not nearly as good.
Once Upon a Time in China (1991)
This tour de force from director Tsui Hark and Jet Li launched a six-film franchise and a TV series. Jet plays Wong Fei-hung, a real-life folk hero and Kung Fu master who has been depicted in well over a hundred films and TV shows. Set during the late 19th century, the film examines themes of Western colonization and Chinese cults, and while blatantly nationalistic, it captures Jet in his martial prime and contains some of his finest fights.
Amazon Prime also has Once Upon a Time in China II, which is an excellent sequel, however the third installment (not on Amazon Prime) falls apart, allegedly due to disputes between Jet and Hark.
Ashes of Time Redux (2008)
This was internationally acclaimed director Wong Kar-wai’s first stab at the martial arts genre. It’s sumptuously artsy and laboriously dystopic, not one to see for the action but the art. Based on a classic wuxia (wuxia is Chinese for martial arts genre books and film) titled The Eagle Shooting Heroes, Wong simultaneously filmed a parody titled after the book with the same cast. Wong did the Redux after the original print was lost, salvaging what was left, reediting and re-scoring it.