Media 6 Future Workshop Research Report

Research Question: 

How does Asian Martial Arts influence the film industry in Hollywood in specific relations to action films?

This research report aims to examine the effects that Asian Martial Arts has on Hollywood action films  and how they were adopted into the genre of action films through the use of various factors. The report will be looking at the influences of Asian Martial Arts from the 1960s right up to the 21st century, together with the exploration of specific personnels such as Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan and Yuen Woo-Ping amongst others. There will be the discussion of the creation of a new genre of film, Kung Fu Comedy and how it defined a new generation of films, alongside the change in the image of Asian femininity through the individual of Michelle Yeoh. To round it up, there will be the mention of specific action films and animations which have been influenced and impacted, as well as some of the films that have been adapted from comic series which has the influence of Asian Martial Arts.

Bruce Lee

Li Xiao Long, also known as Bruce Lee is often known as the master of martial arts in the filmmaking industry. He was born in San Francisco in 1940 and when he was three years old, his family uprooted and shifted to Hong Kong. Growing up in a family as a child of Cantonese Opera stars, Bruce Lee was exposed to the performance platform when he was at a young age, where he made his first film when he was just three months old (Prashad 2003, p. 55). By the time he turned six years old, he had already been part of his first major childhood movie The Birth of Mankind (Kim Chun, 1946) and would go on the appear in 20 more films in Asia.

After moving back to Hong Kong, at the age of thirteen, he was sent for classes of various forms of martial arts, for self defences purposes after he was beaten up by a street gang. The classes he went for included kung fu, fencing, boxing with Wing Chun in particular being one of them.

However with the skills set that he obtained from the classes, it got him into trouble. In 1985 when he was 18 years old, he was sent back to America by his father  after he was involved in a series of street fighting that caused the higher authorities of Hong Kong to be involved. After being sent back to America, Bruce Lee continued to train and eventually he received his first break in the industry when he was discovered by a Hollywood agent in 1964 at the Long Beach International Karate Championships (Richer, 2011, p. 6). He was casted in a television series called The Green Hornet (William Beaudine, Norman Foster & E. Darrell Hallenbeck, 1966-1967), where he played the role of Kato who aids the vigilant adventures of The Green Hornet. The series, however only lasted for a sole season in 1966.

Given the slight success that he received, Bruce Lee made the decision to improve himself. As he was trained in various forms of martial arts, he decided to take it a step further and combine the elements of the different forms of martial arts he learnt. He revolutionised them by creating this own fighting system called Jeet Kun Do, which he describes as “the style with no style”.

As a result, he was the the first Asian Martial Arts master to train non-Asians such as Roman Polanski and Chuck Norris, who later being his training partner, given his personal views on the absence of racial profiling, but also due to his stature and mastery in the form of Jeet Kune Do which he was duly recognised for. Not only did he train non-Asians, but he also trained Asians such as Dan Inosanto, who in turn taught Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon Lee and his friend, Jeff Imada in whom there will be a further exploration into on more of his recent success in Hollywood.

Apart from creating a new form of fighting, he transformed the depiction of unarmed combat in action films that would go on to lay down the foundations for future action stars such as Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Steven Segal and more recently, Jackie Chan and Jet Li, all of whom will be mentioned later on. There was also influence on famous action starts of today such as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The two stars are well-known for factors that included ripped shirts, muscle bulging, and wiping out of evildoers, but Bruce Lee had already flaunted a powerful shirtless physique and took on orders of martial-artist killers at least a decade before they started doing it.

However after the success of the role he played in The Green Hornet, where he had the opportunity to showcase his unique style of martial arts to the American public, he was driven back to Hong Kong due to the racially prejudiced politics of Hollywood despite achieving a relative amount of fame (Richer, 2011, p. 6). However, Bruce Lee did not allow the social issue of racial abuse to get to him. He once told a Hong Kong journalist:

“I, Bruce Lee, am a man who never follows those fearful formulas (racial barriers)… So, no matter if your colour is black or white, red or blue, I can still make friends with you without any barrier (Bruce Lee 1972 cited in Prashad 2003, p. 55)”.

In the premier of his first Kung Fu film, The Big Boss (Lo Wei & Wu Chia Hsiang; 1971), a then 24 year old assistant director named John Woo, was so impressed with Bruce Lee’s unique portrayal of a string and inspiring Chinese figure that he stated, “That night, we found our true hero”. Through the success of his first film, it led to three other Hong Kong blockbusters that included Fist of Fury (Lo Wei, 1971), The Chinese Connection (Bruce Lee; 1971) and The Way of the Dragon (Bruce Lee; 1972) both of which he self-directed. All of the above four films were record breaking hits in Asia and it was a Hollywood produced film that helped propelled Bruce Lee to achieve iconic status in America (Richer, 2011, p. 7).

Enter the Dragon (Robert Clouse; 1973) was the first transnational production between Hong Kong and America, being co-produced by Warner Brothers Pictures and Concord Production Inc. (Richer, 2011, p. 7). However, Bruce Lee passed away at the age of 33 from a brain aneurysm before the film was released. One month after his passing, Warner Brothers in partnership with Golden Harvest released the film on 24th August 1973 in the United States and it netted approximately USD$3 million. Tapping into his initial fan base that was created due to the character that he played in The Green Hornet (Prashad 2003, p. 56), it raised his profile and expanded his fan base.



After his death in 1973, the affection for his affection still existed on the big screen. His students who became choreographers was a factor to show that they inherited his Kung Fu style. On the other hand, his affection not only existed behind the scenes, but also on screen as well where his image has been used to create other films that would attempt to depict his presence and style. This can be seen in a period of time called ‘Bruceploitation’ while the Kung Fu film industry waited for new inspirations and expressions as there were at crossroads.

During 1973-1978, some studios decided to find actors who looked like Bruce Lee, where they taught the lookalikes martial art and to imitate him after he died. The actors who were identified were asked to learn his fighting style, wear his costume and change their screen name that will sound similar to his name. Such spin offs of Bruce Lee’s name would include: Bruce Li, Bruce Lai and Bruce Thai amongst others.

Apart from identifying actors who would have the ability to imitate Bruce Lee, a group of new Kung Fu talents emerged. Some of them became famous as they successfully portrayed Bruce Lee in the film. For instance, Leung Siu-lung, a Wing Chun expert who was a friend to Bruce Lee became his imitator after he died where he portrayed Lee in one of the films such as The Dragon Lives Again (Joe Law, 1977). As a result, Leung now still exists in Hong Kong cinema and has appeared in many Hong Kong martial arts films.

Zhongdao He, was a stunt actor in Taiwan and Hong Kong before he was discovered by Hong Kong filmmakers where he was casted to portray Bruce Lee in the film The Legend of Bruce Lee (Daniel Lau, 1976). He was well-known because his appearance and body shape was similar to Bruce Lee and he was also good at imitating his fighting movement. After he portrayed Bruce Lee, he started to use Bruce Li as his own stage name to act in Hong Kong martial arts film.

Another imitator would be Kim Tai Chung, a Korean actor who is also known as Tong Lung. Due to Bruce Lee’s unexpected death, Hong Kong Orange Sky Golden Harvest Company had to find out stunt doubles in order to finish Lee’s unfinished film The Game of Death (Bruce Lee, Sammo Hung & Robert Clouse 1978). Tong Lung was the stunt double who took the most scenes in the film, even more in comparison to Bruce Lee’s original images. Therefore, after the film released, the images of “Bruce Lee” in the film were mostly replaced by Tong Lung.

Another addition to the imitators coming from Hong Kong, and who would be successful in the role is Jason Scott Lee, where he was well known for portraying Bruce Lee in a martial arts film, Dragon: Bruce Lee’s Story (Rob, Cohen, 1993). Lee lifestyle was affected as he had to learn martial arts due to portrayal in the film. He started training in  Bruce Lee’s fighting system, Jeet Kune Do and continues to train even after the film production was completed. He learnt Jeet Kune Do under Jerry Poteet who was a former Bruce Lee’s student and now Lee, himself is a certified martial arts instructor. Due to his martial arts’ skill, he recently was selected to be casted for a role in the upcoming Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: The Green Density (Yuen Woo-Ping, 2016).

Another famous imitators that made it out big apart from Jason Scott Lee would be Jackie Chan. Jackie Chan’s adopted the character of Bruce Lee in the remake of Bruce Lee’s original Fist of Fury (Lo Wei, 1972). Although Jackie Chan imitated Bruce Lee by playing the Nunchakus, it did not help him to reach a high box office. This was the only film that Chan adopted the role to imitated Bruce Lee. Due to the high standard that Bruce Lee has set in the original film, it was expected that Jackie Chan could not match to the original and the remake was widely considered as a failure. However, the performance of Jackie Chan in the film caught the attention of filmmakers in Hong Kong which would ultimately bring about a change in the genre of Kung Fu. This change will be further illustrated later on.

The decision on finding out Bruce Lee’s imitator create a phenomenon from 1974-1978, that Bruce Lee’s imitation films were flooded in the market and grossed a high box office in 1974. However, because of an overproduction on Bruce Lee’s Kung Fu movie caused the “Kung Fu craze” quickly dropped in temperature, and lost audience interest on Kung Fu movies which can be reflected on a reducing box office in 1975 and 1976, and the overproduction was resulted the Kung Fu movie lost its spot in international market.


Chuck Norris,Sho Kosugi, Michael Dudikoff, Steven Seagal, Jean Claude Van Damme

After Bruce Lee’s death, the martial arts films became the hardest hit in America as it takes time for Americans to embrace the foreign cultural influence. To make the martial arts genre more acceptable for the western audiences, some changes need to be done. Also in order to drive mainstream attention to the genre, the actor has to be a Caucasian American actor who is equipped with the American local personality to adapt this import from the East. (Donovan, 2008, p. 114), as well have an adequate level of martial arts skills to be able to perform the role. This proved to be a stumbling challenge that Hollywood had to overcome, and they found a resolution in the form of Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris also known as the man who saved the genre of martial arts films in Hollywood was a former Karate World Champion in 1968. He founded a karate school in 1962 and drew the attention of renowned Hollywood actors such as James Coburn, Priscilla Presley as well as Steve McQueen, who had persuaded him to take acting as his new career. On another hand, Chuck Norris was also a friend of Bruce Lee as well as his training partner. Due to frequent training sessions together, Bruce Lee saw the martial arts talent and potential in Norris, and as a result he introduced Norris to the profession of choreography fight sequences in action films film. By taking Lee’s advice, Chuck Norris was given a chance to choreograph the martial arts fighting sequence in The Wrecking Crew (Phil Karlson;1968). Not only did he choreograph the fight sequence but he was also offered a cameo appearance as a martial artist villain, where he starred as one of the opponents of the lead character Matt Helm, played by Dean Martin.

As a result of his acquaintance with Bruce Lee, his first remarkable early appearance was in Bruce Lee’s Way of the Dragon (Bruce Lee;1973). This is the film that changed his mind that he made the decision to seriously pursue acting. However, no one in Hollywood pictured him as the next prime action star due to his unnatural and stiff. He was told Hollywood was not interested in making martial arts films anymore. In spite of that, he decided to develop his own film idea that would fit for a martial artist. With the effort from Norris, a few of his martial arts friends, and an enthusiastic script write, Joe Fraley, had made the script called Good Guys Wear Black. The scripted was turned downed by all producers that Norris approached. Despite that, he was approached to infuse his martial arts skills in a low budget, independent film called Breaker! Breaker! (Don Hulette, 1977).

Although Breaker! Breaker! had minimal input from Norris, the character and plot do contain many of the elements that would later be integral to the Norris oeuvre. The film, in essence, is a modern day Western. It uses truckers, country music and Citizens Band (CB) radios in place of the traditional cowboys and horses of the generic oaters. The plot involves the corrupt mayor and police force of a backwoods speed-trap town imprisoning and robbing truckers. Once his kid brother falls victim to the kidnapping scheme, Norris goes looking for payback. The Western style of Breaker! Breaker! fit well with Norris’ own ideas on an American adaptation of martial arts. The film, in fact, was a reflection of an emerging country-western pop culture trend in the mid- to late 1970s. This trend would eventually make mainstream stars of country musicians like Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Tanya Tucker (Donovan, 2008, p. 111).

With Norris’ appearance in Breaker! Breaker!, his Good Guys Wear Black script had finally caught the attention of American Cinema company’s producers and investors who decided to produce it. As the story was to be adapted from Norris’ original script, he was granted a massive degree of freedom in influencing the film and shaping his own character. As a result of his influence, the film turned out to be his big break, where it created a suitable platform for him to showcase his solid martial arts skills. It also helped with the fact that he had a screen presence as a likeable male character with something smouldering underneath.

In 2008, Donovan stated that, in the era of new blockbuster films where the thematic trends are set by hits like Jaws (Steven Spielberg;1975), Rocky (John G. Avildsen;1975) or Star Wars (George Lucas;1977), they are all about a celebration of traditional adventure stories and classic heroic archetypes, and Norris’ melding of the martial arts with the format of the all-American Western proved to be a winning formula (p. 113). The martial arts film was successfully Americanised at last when it was rewritten according to the rules of the most American of all film genres. The influence of the Western can be seen in the first three films Norris made with American Cinema. There are Breaker! Breaker!, Good Guys Wear Black (Joseph Fraley;1978), The Octagon (Eric Karson;1980).

A remarkable point about The Octagon’s merging of Eastern and Western film archetypes is the use of ninjas as villains. By the 1980s, ninjas would be rediscovered by the Hollywood B-movie industry and a long list of ninja epics would thrive in the martial arts theatre.

Chuck Norris deserves the final credit in the history of action-oriented entertainment as he revived the martial arts genre at a moment when they might have faded into obscurity. With Norris’ input in melding martial arts into western films, he had solidified the martial arts genre in Hollywood and paved the way for other essential martial arts stars such as Sho Kosugi and Michael Dudikof  (Desser, 2000, p. 85).

Sho Kousgi, a native Japanese actor with appreciable martial arts skills began his career with playing a character in Enter the Ninja (Menaham Golan;1981). The film was successful, which led to two positives. The first was that Kosugi managed to successfully introduced himself into the Hollywood, and the film also created a ninja craze in America. With the existence of the ninja craze, it brought about a high consumer demand of ninja martial arts films and it led to not only two sequels of Enter the Ninja being produced but also three other “ninja”-titled films which starred Sho Kosugi. It is noteworthy to point out that Kosugi was playing the role as a villain and that a Caucasian, non-martial artist actor was the film’s star. This was part of the framework that can be seen in Norris’ films, where Asian actors and martial artists were mostly casted to play the role of villains.

Nevertheless, Kosugi’s who specialised in the form of ninjutsu had created a significant excitement for martial arts fans and thus helped to introduce a Japanese dimension to what was still being thought of as Chinese martial arts. Hence, his films had increased the representation of the genre and also expanded its geography away from China and Hong Kong, pointing it towards Japan, creating a new fan base.

Because of the success of Enter the Ninja, Kosugi was given a chance to play the role of the hero in its sequel. As a result, he became the first Asian actor with sufficient martial arts background to star in American cinema since Bruce Lee. The genre of ninjas in martial arts film, together with Sho Kosugi remained relatively popular throughout the decade. Although Kosugi left Cannon Group production company in 1984 after the release of Ninja III: The Domination (Sam Firstenberg;1984), he played ninja roles in Pray for Death (Gordon Hessler;1985) and Nine Deaths of the Ninja (Emmett Alston;1985). In Rage of Honour (Gordon Hessler;1987), he went without the ninja’s traiditonal black jumpsuit and hood and valiantly battled South American drug lords. Upon his return to to Cannon Group Productions 1988, he played the character of a  martial artist government agent, who is locked in a race against Russian agents to find a high-tech missile tracking device in Black Eagle (Eric Karson;1988). Although the film was utterly forgettable as it lacked suspense and imagination, one thing worth pointing out from the film is that in Kosugi’s final showdown, the fight was against a lethal Russian martial arts assassin played by a future action star in the form of Jean-Claude Van Damme (Donovan, 2008, p. 135).

Following Sho Kosugi’s initial exit from Cannon Group Productions in 1984, the company decided to groom Michael Dudikoff to be the next martial arts star. Some of Dudikoff’s films are I Ought to Be in Pictures (Herbert Ross;1982) and Bachelor Party (Neal Israel;1984). However, his film American Ninja (Sam Firstenberg;1985) in 1985 set him on course of low-budget martial arts stardom.

The American Ninja series was made up of 5 ninja films, in which three of them starred Michael Dudikoff as the male lead actor. American Ninja series was Cannon Group’s dedication of its own ninja series with Sho Kosugi but with strictly American star and inexpensive locations in The Philippines. The Asian locale brought along Asian villains once again even though some of Dudikoff’s fellow ninjas were Caucasians. As a result, it helped to prepare the future genre in which Caucasian stars would nominate.  While Cannon Group produced American Ninja 3 (Cedric Sundstrom;1989) with the absence of Dudikoff as he was starring in a film called Platoon Leader(Aaron Norris;1988), directed by Chuck Norris’ brother, Aaron Norris, other outstanding figures would enter the martial arts canon to take over his role.

The films of Chuck Norris, Sho Kosugi and Michael Dudikoff showed the viability of a martial arts genre in the 1980s, but at a lower budget, mostly exploitation level. (Desser, 2000, p. 87)

Starting in 1990s, the Americanisation of martial arts in the 1980s continued as it made major A lists stars out of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal. Both of them would be starred in at least a film each year. Jean-Claude Van Damme was the multiple championship winning kick boxer in Europe, whereas Steven Seagal was the first Westerner ever to operate a dojo in Japan. Viewers could trust both of them to give the viewers the best martial arts action for the money. Van Damme and Seagal had followed the path that Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris had taken, which is being a real martial artist actor, instead of being an actor who pretends to to play the role.

His martial arts background and his good looks helped him to make contacts and start establishing inroads into the film business and as a result, in 1984, Chuck Norris gave him a role as an extra in Missing in Action (Joseph Zito;1984). Van Damme’s mission was to become a martial arts action star. The best place to achieve his goal was at Cannon Group Productions which was owned by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus also known as the home of ninjas. Van Damme reasoned, to start his ascent as the next major martial arts superstar, he believed in taking the same route as Sho Kosugi, in joining the Cannon Group. In fact, hearing about his role in the Schwarzenegger picture, Golan and Globus suddenly thought of him to be a promising prospect, grooming a new leading man as well. The production team thought he might even be ideal for a martial arts tournament film called Bloodsport (Newt Arnold;1988).

Bloodsport was produced, yet Golan and Globus were not satisfied with the complete product to the extent that they refused to release the film. Van Damme, in turn, was moved on to the renowned Z-grade schlock of No Retreat, No Surrender (Corey Yuan;1986), a low budget martial arts film directed by Hong Kong director Corey Yuen. As a follow-up, it became obvious that the Cannon Group management must have thought that Van Damme’s Belgian accent was close enough to Russian to cast him in Black Eagle as yet another ruthless, soulless Soviet killer, starring opposite Sho Kosugi. With both films vanishing into the netherworld of videotape and grind-house theatres the world over, Van Damme decided to take things into his own hands and began campaigning mightily for Bloodsport‘s release. After enough nagging, Golan and Globus agreed to recut and release the film in 1988 (Donovan, 2008, p. 148).

To the surprise of many film industry watchers, Bloodsport turned a shockingly large profit. Working on just a budget of $1.5 million for the film’s production, the film grossed $30 million in the box office. Jean-Claude Van Damme’s career had finally taken off. Bloodsport was used as a showcase for a variety of themes and elements that would keep appearing in Van Damme’s later films, of which his trademark move of the very wide leg-split contributed to his personal identity. Van Damme’s notable flexibility allowed him to perform perfect splits, with both legs reaching so far out to the sides that they would form a straight line from one foot to the other. This trademark movement can be seen in most of his films where he fancies to perform stunts, balancing on top of two objects such as chairs or crates, one leg on each for support, before forming the perfect split.

Van Damme returned to the martial arts tournament setting in films like Kickboxer (Mark DiSalle & David Worth;1989), Lionheart (Sheldon Lettich;1990), and The Quest (Jean-Claude Van Damme;1996). He also experimented with various other genres such as science fiction in the films such as Cyborg (Albert Pyun;1989), Time Cop (Peter Hyams;1994), and Universal Soldier (Roland Emmerich;1992), and also the genre of crime thrillers, in the form of Death Warrant (Deran Sarafian;1990), Double Impact (Sheldon Lettich;1991), Sudden Death (Peter Hyams;1995), Maximum Risk (Ringo Lam;1996) and Knock Off (Tsui Hark;1998). It is also notable that he always retained the martial arts distinguished in all of his films.

It is also interesting that Van Damme very actively sought to bring some of the biggest names in Hong Kong cinema to Hollywood. Called “the human green card” by Jeff Yang, Jean Claude Van Damme helped facilitate deals for John Woo to make Hard Target (1993), Tsui Hark’s Double Team (1997) and Knock Off (1998), and not to missing out Ringo Lam’s In Hell (2003) (Donovan, 2008, p. 152).

Another A-list martial artist actor in the 90s, Steven Seagal, attempted at Americanising the Asian martial arts into the Western culture. Compared to Van Damme, the starting point of Seagal’s career was much better than Van Damme as he was lucky to have Michael Ovitz as his Aikido student. Michael Ovitz was the founder and head of Creative Artists Agency, one of the premiere Hollywood talent agency at the time. For that reason, Ovitz had also pictured Seagal as another major action star, where it led to Seagal’s first debut in 1987 in the Warner Bros. film called, Above the Law (Andrew Davis; 1988).

Above the Law was a hit and Seagal’s screen presence can predominantly be credited for it. Aside from the director, Andrew Davis, coaxing out a decent and natural performance out of the rookie actor, Seagal’s bearing and overall impression are very effective. In many ways, he came across almost comparable as a martial arts in the version of Clint Eastwood. Not only is Seagal tall and rangy, but his physically physique is built a lot like Clint Eastwood. He has an unapproachable manner, again like Eastwood, and speaks in a soft near-whisper while displaying a vaguely sinister look due to him having a similar squinty-eyed, vaguely sinister look. Furthermore, when Above the Law was released, Seagal much like Chuck Norris, looked refreshingly realistic. In a time when nearly every action hero, save perhaps for Bruce Willis or  Clint Eastwood pumped iron and looked like bodybuilder perfection, Seagal’s physique was not imposing at all, aside from his height (Donovan, 2008, p. 158).

The disintegration of Seagal’s mainstream career is curious, as he was identified as one of the martial artist action heroes who might have been able to infuse more Asian culture and influences to his films as he seemed to boast a stronger connection to the East as compared to the rest of the Hollywood action heroes (Donovan, 2008, p. 162).


Jackie Chan 

As mentioned earlier, Jackie Chan was one of the talents to emerge from a new generation of Kung Fu talents (Shu, 2010, pg. 55). He was groomed by Golden Harvest and they marketed him as a successor of Bruce Lee; they however were unsuccessful (Marchetti, 2014 p. 11). An example of failure would be the remake of Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury, New Fist of Fury (Lo Wei, 1976), where the film yielded relatively poor box office returns.

Considered as a commercial failure, under the directorship and partnership with Yuen Woo-Ping, both of them decided a change was need and believed that humour was the best way to go (Donovan, 2008, p. 196). They decided to take Bruce’s Lee image, his moves, the initial approach and style to martial arts film, and deconstruct it. Basically, what they aimed to do was to go against the conventions that Bruce Lee had set for the genre, turn them upside down, stagnate it and make a radical departure from all the tired and overused cliches of the martial arts genre from Bruce Lee’s era.

The new style that Chan and Yuen defined, could be seen in Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (Yuen Woo Ping, 1978), where the film is about how a martial arts school was being saved by a humble character, played by Jackie Chan. Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow became the first film that showed case the new style of martial arts that went against the conventional image that Bruce Lee had created (Donovan, 2008, p. 203).

As Jackie Chan often say in his relations to Bruce Lee and the genre:

“Instead of kicking high like Bruce Lee, I kick low. When he not smiling, (I am) always smiling. He can one-punch break wall; after I break the wall, I (am) hurt and I do the funny face. He plays the invincible hero, I’m the underdog. His movies are intense, mine are light.” (Chan cited in Shu, 2010, p. 55).

This challenged Bruce Lee’s image of toughness which has been grounded in the cultural context of both Asia and America. As a result, Jackie Chan not only created a new wave in the genre of martial arts that would change its philosophy but also managed to move out of Bruce Lee’s shadow, forming his own identity through his creative energy and power. (Shu, 2010, pg. 55) The new genre that would go on to be acquainted with Jackie Chan in many years to come was to be known as, Kung Fu Comedy.

There was a vast difference between the Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, so much so that Robert Clouse, who directed Enter the Dragon, mentioned:

“In many ways, Jackie was a better actor. He was a very good acrobat and a good martial artist. Plus, he could handle humour beautifully. His look on screen was very much a joke a minute existence. It was softer. It wasn’t hard like Lee. Jackie didn’t break through but we absolutely thought he would” (Logan cited in Yuen, 2010, p. 55).

In numerous Jackie Chan films to come, he would take on roles that depicted semi-competence, facing overwhelming and dangerous challenges to overcome. This successful template has been set as the unique and spectacularly successful, Jackie Chan style. In further comparison to Bruce Lee, the character of Jackie Chan is not of a superhero. Instead, he is defendable, he feels hurt and portrays his feelings with his facial expressions which makes him a step closer to the audience, bringing in the element of a comedic artist clown. He would also bring action to his films accompanied by fast paced series of acrobatic sights and martial arts making it his signature style. This undermines the rigid Bruce Lee fighting system (Shu, 2010, pg. 55).

Jackie Chan’s first breakthrough was in the film Rumble in the Bronx (Stanley Tong,1995), a film set in the Bronx area of New York City. The film was successful and he as an actor and martial artist was made known the other western audience, which created the opening for him into the Hollywood market. When he realised that Hollywood was interested in desperate action movement and Kung Fu comedy in particular, it was adopted to become a new narrative style. He ultimately received his first break in Hollywood where he was approached and he agreed to star in the Rush Hour (Brett Ratner, 1998), some three years after the successful release of Rumble in the Bronx. The success of Rush Hour led to further instalments of the series, Rush Hour 2 (Brett Ratner, 2001), Rush Hour 3 (Brett Ratner, 2007), with rumours recently being confirmed that there will be a Rush Hour 4 which is still in the midst of pre-production. Some other films that starred Jackie Chan together with his narrative style of Kung Fu comedy are Shanghai Noon (Tom Dey,2000), Shanghai Knights (David Dobkin, 2003) and The Spy Next Door (Brian Levant, 2010).

However, Jackie Chan was not the only Asian actor who had a background in Martial Arts to break into Hollywood in 1998. Jet Li who starred in Fist of Legend (Gordon Chan, 1994), the remake of Bruce Lee’s original Fist of Fury (Lo Wei, 1972) in the effort to keep Bruce Lee’s legacy alive, was another Asian actor who sought new opportunities in Hollywood.

Having been trained in the form of Wushu since the age of eight and winning multiple national championships by the age of 12 (Fighting Master, 2009), Jet Li’s fame as an actor rose in the 1990s through the film series Once Upon a Time in China (Tsui Hark, 1991-1993). As mentioned above that Jet Li sought new opportunities in Hollywood, he got his first role in a Hollywood film in the form of Lethal Weapon (Richard Donner, 1998). His first breakout moment in Hollywood, however was Romeo Must Die (Andrzej Bartkowiak, 2000) and he went on to starred in films such as The One (James Wong, 2001), The Expandable series: The Expendables (Sylvester Stallone, 2010), The Expendables 2 (Sylvester Stallone, 2012) and The Expendables 3 (Sylvester Stallone, 2014). Even though the films that he was a lead in, have not been considered to be as successful in comparison to the Chinese films he has been in such as Once Upon a Time in China and Hero (Zhang Yi Mou, 2002) or in comparison to Jackie Chan for the matter, he was considered to be more diverse. This can be seen in the role that he was offered in the film, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Rob Cohen, 2008). The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor would be deemed to be a significant film for martial artists as there were the use of female martial artists in a Hollywood film. One of the them was known by the name of Michelle Yeoh.


Female Martial Arts Actress in Hollywood Action Films

Not many actresses have given strong, emotional performances and kicked major butt in the same film, but fortunately for fans of the “Mummy” movies, Michelle Yeoh has achieved that.

Michelle Yeoh is one of the most famous Asian action actresses to the western audience. Her fame rose when she played the character of the sorceress Zi Yuan in the final instalment of the Mummy movies, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. This film is about the Qin Shi Huang, a brutal and tyrannical warlord, who unites the country’s kingdoms into an empire and becomes the Dragon Emperor, where he orders the construction of the Great Wall of China to bury and curse his dead enemies. This third “Mummy” movie has failed to win over many critics, where the film achieved only 12 percent positive on the film review website Even though Michelle Yeoh said it is a small character but her  performance has been pointed out to be one of its few bright spots in the film.

In the world of martial arts films, there are not many actresses who let fists fly as well as Yeoh, and even fewer who have earned respect in Hollywood as a top martial art actress. Before Michelle Yeoh, most of the Hollywood female characters were limited in the sexuality stereotype. Michelle Yeoh is the most recognisable and revered Asian martial art actress of the second generation in Hong Kong cinema. Michelle Yeoh was also marked as a distinctly Hong Kong warrior woman in the West, and her nationality, to some extent, has influenced her representation and roles in Hollywood. Her rise to transnational superstardom coincides with broader geopolitical changes in the region, which strongly impacted the local film industry and especially the formal and narrative properties of action films (Funnell, L. 2014, p.37).

Although gunplay was assumed as a very masculine genre comprised of male-focused narrative in Hong Kong, a female cycle emerged soon after. For example, the first “girls with guns” film, Yes Madam (Corey Yuen, 1985), casted Michelle Yeoh, who has never perform such actions before, to be one of the main characters. Just like some of other Asian actress, Michelle Yeoh used her background as a dancer to pick up martial arts choreography, quickly mastering an impressive array of skill and demonstrating her proficiency with traditional Chinese weapons like the rope dart, and sword (Funnell, L 2014 p.39).

Yeoh further demonstrated her proficiency in martial arts while working with Yuen Woo-Ping, one of the most important choreographer and action film directors in Hong Kong, who directed and choreographed the action sequences in Yeoh’s film Tai Chi Master (Yuen Woo-Ping, 1993) and Wing Chun (Yuen Woo-Ping, 1994).

She rose to prominence in Hong Kong action flicks and she started to gain recognition with the western audiences when she plays the first Asian Bond girl in 1997’s 007 spy series, Tomorrow Never Dies (Roger Spottiswoode,1997). In this film, the Bond girl is no longer there just to play the role of a beauty accompaniment of James Bond; instead she fights alongside him. Even though entering Hollywood through the predetermined sexualised role of the Bond Girl, Yeoh insisted that she is to be portrayed as a more masculinised image in Tomorrow Never Dies. She selected the role that shares much in common with her work in Hong Kong cinema. She was the first Bond Girl to be featured in a solo action scene and was valued for her heroic performance where her representation in the film offered a new image of Asian femininity that is based on physical abilities and achievements rather than oriental sexuality.

She then displayed both her acting and her fighting skills in Ang Lee’s Oscar winner Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000). Michelle Yeoh portrays Yu Shu Lien, a security expert who is dedicated to upholding the legal and ethical codes of China. Yeoh’s character is the moral center of the film, and her characterization is strengthened through her mentoring of Jen (Zhang Ziyi), the teenaged daughter of a rich aristocrat who is forced to marry a man she doesn’t even meet before. While Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon explores female relationships enacted through martial arts, Yeoh’s dramatic performance and action helps to elevate and celebrate her character as being the more mature and honorable warrior woman (Funnell, 2014, p.47). She even received acclaimed from Los Angeles Times Critic, Kenneth Turan who mentioned,

“Best of all is Michelle Yeoh, who radiates integrity in every role she takes on and who holds our attention as a powerful sorceress” (2008).

On the other hand, in the early 200s, Lucy Liu rose to international superstardom with principal roles in Charlie’s Angels (McGinty, 2000-2003) and Kill Bill Volume 1 (Quantine Tarantino, 2003). Lucy Liu is the only Chinese American action actress to be casted in Hollywood blockbuster stylised by Hong Kong action film aesthetics in the new millennium. Her increase her star persona coincides with the release of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in the American film market and the crossover of Asian martial art actresses into Hollywood. Her casting in the female-focused action films arguably reflects Hollywood’s attempt at developing a distinctly local/American version of the Asian action actress to capitalize on the increasing domestic interest in the Asian female body in action. (Funnell, L 2014, p.183)


Directors & Choreographers

The series of Kill Bill (Quentin Tarantino, 2003-2004) also saw other impacts of Asian martial arts that influence the film apart from casting a female Asian character. The other element of influence can be seen through the form of Yuen Woo-Ping, who brought his stylistic trademark choreography into the film. It was Quentin Tarantino’s love for Hong Kong martial arts film, which was why he brought Yuen in to be the choreographer of the series after watching the success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

While Hollywood has certain impact on Hong Kong action filmmaking, Hong Kong Cinema has also influenced Hollywood, especially the representation of Hollywood action actresses after 1997. Brothers Yuen Woo-Ping and Yuen Cheung-Yan have arguably had the greatest impacts on helping to transcribe the heroic templates featured in “girls with guns” into generic Hollywood forms. Working on two of the most profitable Hollywood film series of the early 2000s, the Yuen Brothers have helped to defined two distinct models of white female heroism: the “Parodic Angel” template established in the Charlie’s Angels series (McG, 2000-2003) and the “Trinity warrior” featured in The Matrix films (Wachowski, 1999-2003) (Funnell, L 2014, p.171).

In the late 1990s, Hollywood began to feature Hong Kong crossover action stars in its blockbuster. The casting of Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-Fat, and Jet Li coincides with the expansion of positive masculinity in the action genre. Yuen Woo Ping choreographed the films that first made Jackie Chan into a star, through the film Drunken Master (Yuen Woo-Ping, 1978) and Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (Yuen Woo-Ping, 1978).

In an effort to keep Bruce Lee’s legacy alive, the success of Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury prompted a remake, which starred Jet Li in Fist of Legend (Gordon Chan, 1994), where Yuen Woo-Ping was the action choreographer.

Fist of Legend inspired the former Wachowski brothers to hire Yuen to be the action choreographer for The Matrix Trilogy, which was his breakthrough into Hollywood. Often compared to the artistic form of ballet, Yuen’s conventional action sequences, often consists of eye-opening aerial acrobatics. The use of high-flying wire action techniques, impressive fight scenes and stunts, became his signature. This led him to being a favorite of Jet Li and Jackie Chan.

Apart from Jet Li and Jackie Chan, Keanu Reeves is also a big fan of Yuen. In an interview with Reeves, conducted post The Matrix Trilogy, he claimed that Yuen is the greatest and true master, he was amazed the first time he saw Yuen’s action sequences (Reeves cited in Gluckman, 1999, p. 1). Reeves goes on to mention that,

“Yuen’s style isn’t clichéd or simple in any way and he tries different styles to tell different stories” (Reeves cited in Gluckman, 1999).

However, Yuen was not the only crew who broke into the Hollywood after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was released. Tiger Chen, Yuen’s student, who also worked on the film had also penetrated Hollywood and he was also the choreographer who trained Keanu Reeves for The Matrix. Yuen Woo-Ping’s most recent works would be Man of Tai Chi (Keanu Reeves, 2013) where he is the director choreographer for the action sequences to which he said,

“We are at a time where we can create the most impossible action sequences with the help of visual effects…we had to start from scratch training him from the basics, but he was very hardworking and put in a great deal of effort, We choreographed it, worked with Yuen Woo-ping who was action director choreographer on the film” (Yuen Woo-Ping cited in Chu, 2012).

Another point of interest would be the fact that Tiger Chen who help trained Keanu Reeves for The Matrix as mentioned would co-starring beside Reeves for Reeves directorial debut.

In 2000, Yuen choreographed the fighting scene for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and it won the Oscars for Best Foreign Film amongst other awards. It provides the best example of a Chinese martial arts film combining auteur art and the high concept film in the global film market making it one of the first Chinese language movie to enjoy mass appeal among American audiences. With the success of his works in The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, it made Yuen a highly sought after figure in Hollywood. This eventually secured his role in the other two Matrix films, which led to his involvement in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill 1 & 2, where there is combined physical movements and special effect. Quentin Tarantino used Yuen Woo-Ping as the choreographer of Kill Bill Volume 1 because he watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and discovered Yuen’s talent in action choreography and he is very interested in martial art film because he worked video arcades before he became director, and he interested in HK Shaw Brothers martial art film since that. Before filming Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino “forced” the crew to watch some HK martial art films, such as King Boxer and The One-Armed Swordsman. In Kill Bill, Uma’s wardrobe is the same as what Bruce Lee wore in The game of Death.

After Jackie Chan and Jet Li broke into Hollywood in the late 1990s as mentioned earlier on, they brought their own stunt teams to design action sequences as they will be familiar with expectations and the risk that come with it. Jackie Chan in particular brought in his own stunt team for collaboration purposes, which helped him in the Hollywood films he has been in (Wei, 2013, p. 1). Apart from Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Yuen Woo-Ping, there are a few other notable martial art masters who also have an impact on Hollywood films from the 1990s to the recent years.

Dan Inosanto, as mentioned earlier in the introduction, a Filipino-American martial arts practitioner, who studied “Jeet Kune Do” under Bruce Lee. On another hand, he showcased his skills in the film Games of Death fighting Bruce Lee in 1972. However, his influence is being a teacher of Brandon Lee, Jeff Imada and Jonathan Eusebio.

After learning from Dan, Jeff Imada has coordinated stunts for over 50 films, some of the notable films are Furious 7 (James Wan, 2015), Book of Eli (Allen Hughes & Albert Hughes, 2010), The Bourne Series (Dough Liman, Paul Greengrass & Tony Golroy, 2002-2012), Gone in 60 Seconds (Dominic Sena, 2000), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (Dough Liman, 2015), Rush Hour and the legendary film Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999).

Being another student of Dan, Jonathan Eusebio, was also a success in Hollywood. From 1997 until 2015, he has over 63 film credits to his name as fight choreographer, some of the remarkable films are The Avengers (Joss Whedon, 2012), The Expendables Series (Sylvester Stallone, Simon West & Patrick Hughes, 2010-2014), Ironman II (Jon Favreau, 2010), The Bourne series, 300 (Jack Snyder, 2010), Wolverine (James Mangold, 2009).



Martial arts were not only impacted on mainstream cinema, it also has impact on action comic book, especially the comics from Marvel Studios. In Marvel’s comic, superhero’s action adventure is the main theme that Marvel used, where they consulted numbers of Asian martial arts as a reference to add into their comic for creating characters’ fighting style. From the 1980s, the number of Marvel superhero movies started to adapt from their comic books, the martial artist characters in the comics were turning out to be real in the movies. Martial arts such as Chinese Kung Fu, Japanese Ninjutsu and Bushido were often used in their movies, such as Captain America (Joe Johnston,2011) and X-Men(Lauren Shuler Donner, 2000-2015).

In order to transfer the fighting scene from comic books, different choreographers have been hired for guiding actor’s fighting movement. One of the choreographers is Jonathan Eusebio who directed The Avengers, who is also the student of Dan Inosanto. Under Jonathan’s direction, the Black Widow and Hawkeye characters in The Avengers displayed fighting styles that has a mix of Karate, Jujitsu, Judo. He also brought in the elements of Filipino martial arts and Muay Thai boxing, which has not been seen in either the era of Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan. In addition to The Avengers, there are some other superhero characters in Marvel’s films who are have martial art elements. These characters include Wolverine, Mystique Wade Wilson in X-Men whose fighting styles are affecting by Japanese karate, Twin-Katana and the samurai. Steve Roger who plays the main character in Captain America can be classified as a mix martial artist in the film, having been trained in Parkour, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, karate and boxing from his choreographer, James Young who is a Jeet Kun Do fighting expert who also directed another Marvel superhero movie, Guardians of the Galaxy (Gunn, 2014).

Apart from Marvel Studio’s comic movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle(TMNT) (Steve Barron, 1990) is another success comic adaptation series with martial arts elements after the first adapted comic series, Captain America, which the two episodes were released in 1994 and 1990, respectively. TMNT has combined elements of both Chinese and Japanese martial arts as its comic book was created in the post Bruce Lee era. The story concept was based on Japanese ninja, however, the writer Kevin Eastman was a fan of Bruce Lee, thus the original idea he had for the character was coming from the inspiration of Bruce Lee. Eastman imagined the Bruce Lee changing into a turtle character who uses the Nunchaku as a weapon and that was where the character of  Michelangelo came about. There were also some other Asian martial arts weapons and fighting style that can seen seen in the movie such as the  Twin-katana, Bo and Sai and Karate.

TMNT was a cult success which less people would expect that it would reach a surprising popularity in the film industry. The story was extended and re-filmed into a series, which the last episode was released in 2014. While, martial art is not only influence on Hollywood mainstream cinema and comic adaptation movies, it has influence on animation industry as well. As can be seen, Chinese and Japanese martial art influenced Hollywood movie the most, it was also happened in animation industry.

After the TMNT release, Hollywood Animation Studios: DreamWorks, Disney and Pixar start to pay attention on Asian martial arts. They began to use them as references, drawing influences in order to create the fighting styles for their animated characters. For example, The Lion King (Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff, 1994), Toy story (John Lasseter, 1995), Mulan (Tony Bancroft, Barry Cook, 1998), Shrek (Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson (2001), Kung Fu Panda (Mark Osborne, John Stevenson, 2008), Puss in Boots (Chris Miller, 2011) and most recent animation Big Hero 6 (Don Hall, Chris Williams, 2014).

By going through these movies, Japanese karate is the martial art style that influenced Hollywood’s animation the most. Except Mulan and Kung Fu Panda, almost all the other animations were using karate as a fighting reference. This was because of the success of TMNT and the influences it had from the film series, Karate Kid, which made karate became a popular fighting style in Hollywood. Even up to today, It is still having a strong impact on Hollywood films.

Chinese martial arts, first to be known from Bruce Lee in 1970s, however, its affection in Hollywood animation was not as strong as Japanese’s during 1980s-1990s. Mulan, the first Hollywood animation purely based on Chinese story and elements used Chinese martial arts as an advertising point for the film, even though it did not embody the element in the film where it was known for its story instead of martial arts. In fact, the fighting style in Mulan did not have a specific martial art style and it was categorised to be Kung Fu in general. Mulan did not catch the attention of the western audience and it also lost its interest in Asian cinema, it however became a channel for merging Chinese elements into animation. At the same time, Jackie Chan brought Kung Fu Comedy into Hollywood after his Hong Kong martial arts films were imported in 1995. They were further popularised Kung Fu comedy after his performance in Rush Hour in 1998. Besides the release of Rush Hour, Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Zhang Yimou’s Hero were released as well and Chinese martial arts hit Hollywood market again after Bruce Lee’s death. During this period, DreamWorks Studio had an idea to make a Chinese martial art base animation, which was Kung Fu Panda, released in 2008.

Kung Fu Panda was released 13 years after Mulan. If Mulan was a film that turned Chinese icon into an animation film, Kung Fu Panda was the one that enlarge the Chinese historical elements, especially Kung Fu into the film. Before making this movie, DreamWorks simply had an idea on a panda who loves Kung Fu as a basic structure for the story. It was inspired by the traditional art of Kung Fu and was set in ancient China and it was heavily influenced by Yin Yang concept and principles of balance. Tai Chi and Xiang Xing Quan were also used as the main martial arts resource in the film. Moreover, Shaolin Temple’s Five Animal Forms were used as background material to create the other five characters. These characters  were based on different styles of Kung Fu fighting, depicted by animals that included monkey, snake, crane, tiger and praying mantis.

The film was also inspired by Jackie Chan’s Kung Fu Comedy. Therefore, the crew of the film were asked to watch some Hong Kong martial arts movies that has the genre of Kung Fu Comedy. In relation to that, Kung Fu Panda not only used Chinese martial arts as references for creating characters’ fighting styles, but imitated some Hong Kong martial films’ fighting scenes as well. For instance, the most obvious scene in the movie would be from the character of Po, where he uses a pair of chopsticks to go against his Shifu for getting a bun, which was inspired by a scene from Jackie Chan’s Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow, when Chan was trying to get a bowl from his Shifu. It was imitating Chan’s The Fearless Hyena’s (Jackie Chan & Kenneth Tsang, 1979) chopsticks fight scene, which he used chopstick to rob a meat from his Shifu. In addition, Kung Fu Panda was using the final battle scene from Kung Fu Hustle (Stephen Chow, 2004) as a reference, similar to the scene where Po goes against Tai Lung in the final battle scene.

Kung Fu Panda hit Hollywood animation market by using martial arts element, and it captured the audience’s attention on Chinese martial arts once again. After the success of Kung Fu Panda, the sequel, Kung Fu Panda II was released in 2011 where they were additional elements of Chinese martial arts styles such as the Pike, Dart and Fan.

With the various forms of martial arts, Hollywood’s animation studios have adopted it to be the main source of influence when it comes to choreographing fighting styles for characters. In the last few years, although Kung Fu Panda has been classified as the only martial arts animation in Hollywood, there are increasing numbers of animation that are beginning to using martial arts in their movies. For instance, the use of Nunchaku which was made famous by Bruce Lee, Sword and Karate can be seen in Toy Story 3, Puss in Boots and Big Hero 6.

In conclusion, the report has explored the different elements of Asian Martial Arts that have made an impact on action films in Hollywood. Having looked into the various periods of Bruce Lee, Bruceploitation, Jackie Chan and the creation of his new genre: Kung Fu Comedy, it is clearly evident that the original notion of Kung Fu and Asian Martial Arts have transformed over the years. Even though Jackie Chan did ultimately change the perception of Kung Fu and how people perceived it, he was not the only person to be influenced by Bruce Lee. Famous actors from Hollywood such as Chuck Norris, Michael Dudikoff and Jean Claude Van Damme have evidently drew influence from Bruce Lee as well, and similar to Jackie Chan, they established their own identity after having both feet firmly in the genre of action and Kung Fu films. It can also be seen that action and Kung Fu films of the 21st century have reaped the initial efforts of Bruce Lee, where he has made an impact through the likes of Jeff Imada and Jonathan Eusebio who both have choreographed action sequences in films that the general public have come to loved, such as The Avengers, The Expendables Series, 300, Ironman II and The Bourne series. They would have to be grateful to Yuen Woo-Ping as well as he was the first Asian Martial Artist, as an action choreographer to break into Hollywood through the success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Last but not least, the report has also looked into how comic series such as the Marvel Comics, which has the influence of Asian Martial Arts, have learnt to adapt them into films, with examples ranging from Captain America to X-Men. There has also been a new trend with production of animations, where films such as Kung Fu Panda, Big Hero 6, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been drawing influences from the history of ancient Asian Martial Arts.

The evolution of the genre of Kung Fu and action films can be seen clearly. However as Keanu Reeves once recalled having a conversation with Yuen Woo-ping, after achieving a new level, Yuen responded to him and said, “Fine, now what about this?”, and Reeves replied, “It was always challenging, but incredibly satisfying”.

The same belief and theory can be applied in the evolution of action films, which is still clearly taking in influences from Asian Martial Arts; with multiple productions and sequels to be released in the upcoming years. However, it may seem with the content of modern action films having plenty of Kung Fu influences, it might imply that the original genre of Kung Fu films and Asian Martial Art films are on the decline.

Only in due time will we find out.


[9,836 words]




Barna William Donovan 2008, The Asian Influence on Hollywood Films, McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, accessed 1 September 2015., (n.d.). Bruce Lee’s Life, accessed 17 October 2015,<>

Chan, K. 2009, Remade in Hollywood: The Global Chinese Presence in Transnational Cinemas. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, accessed 17 October 2015, <>

Dana 2010, My Hero:The My Hero Project – Jackie Chan, accessed 15 October 2015,<> 2009, Jet Li’s Childhood Years, accessed 16 October 2015,<>

Funnell, L 2014, Warrior Women : Gender, Race, And The Transnational Chinese Action Star, Albany: State University of New York Press, eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost, accessed 18 October 2015, <>

Gina Marchetti 2014, Does the Karate Kid Have a Kung Fu Dream? Hong Kong Martial Arts between Hollywood and Beijing, accessed 31 August 2015, <>

Greene, N. 2014, From Fu Manchu to Kung Fu Panda: Images of China in American Film, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, accessed 16 Oct. 2015, <>

Joel Richer 2011, The President and The Dragon: The Rise of Bruce Lee in the 1970s, accessed 31 August 2015, <>

Karen Chu 2012, Yuen Woo-Ping is being Honoured at the Paris Cinema Film Festival and is currently Working on Reeve’s directorial Debut, 31 August 2015, <>

Liu Wei 2013, Chinese choreographers inspire stunts in Hollywood films, accessed 31 August 2015,<>

Lu Zhouxiang, Qi Zhang & Fan Hong 2014, Projecting the ‘Chineseness’: Nationalism, Identity and Chinese Martial Arts Films, The International Journal of the History of Sport,Vol. 31, Iss. 3, 2014, accessed 26 August 2015,  <>

Marchetti, Gina; Kam, Tan See 2007, Hong Kong Film, Hollywood and New Global Cinema : No Film is An Island, e-book, accessed 26 August 2015, <>

Ma, H. 2014, Creation of Animation in China: Mulan & KungFu Panda, Beijing Film Academy Press, accessed 14 October 2015, <>

Michael Berry 2014, China is Near, accessed 31 August 2015,<>

Peichi Chung 2007, Hollywood domination of the Chinese kung fu market, accessed 26 August 2015, <>

Richer, J 2011, The President and The Dragon: The Rise of Bruce Lee in the 1970s, accessed 17 September 2015, < >

Ron Gluckman 1999, Putting the punch in “The Matrix”, accessed 31 August 2015, <>

Szeto, K 2011, The Martial Arts Cinema Of The Chinese Diaspora : Ang Lee, John Woo, And Jackie Chan In Hollywood, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost, accessed 26 August 2015, <>

The First Asian Action Star Break into Hollywood, Documentary, I am Bruce Lee. 02 August 2013, accessed 31 August 2015, <>

Tourtellotte, B. (2008). Michelle Yeoh Brings Bicks and Poise to Mummy, Reuters ,accessed 17 October 2015, <>

Vijay Prashad 2003, Bruce Lee and the anti-imperialism of Kung Fu: A Polycultural Adventure, accessed 27 August 2015, <>

Wheeler W. Dixon 2000, Film Genre 2000: New Critical Essays, State University of New York Press, Albany, e-book, accessed 26 August 2015, <>

W.Wayne Fu 2012, National Audience Tastes in Hollywood Film Genres: Cultural Distance and Linguistic Affinity, Communication Research, 2013, Vol.40(6), pp.789-817, accessed 26 August 2015,<>

Xiao, X, 2015, Animal Styles of Chinese Martial Arts in Kung Fu Panda, Interact China: Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, Charity — Blogging Aesthetic China, accessed 16 October 2015, <>

Yuan Shu 2010,Reading the Kung Fu Film in an American Context: From Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan, accessed 31 August 2015, <>



Film reference 


Above the Law (1988). [film] Andrew Davis

American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt (1989). [film]  Cedric Sundstrom



Bachelor Party (1984). [film] Neal Israel

Big Hero 6 (2014). [film] Don Hall, Chris Williams

Black Eagle (1988). [film] Eric Karson

Bloodsport (1988). [film] Newt Arnold

Book of Eli (2010). [film] Allen Hughes & Albert Hughes

Breaker! Breaker! (1977). [film] Don Hulette



Captain America (2011). [film] Joe Johnston

Charlie’s Angels (2000-2003). [film] McGinty

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: The Green Density (2016). [film] Yuen-Woo Ping

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). [film] Ang Lee

Cyborg (1989). [film] Albert Pyun



Death Warrant (1990). [film] Deran Sarafian

Double Impact (1991). [film] Sheldon Lettich

Double Team (1997). [film] Tsui Hark

Dragon: Bruce Lee’s Story (1993). [film] Rob Cohen

Drunken Master (1978). [film] Yuen Woo-Ping


Enter the Dragon (1973). [film] Robert Clouse

Enter the Ninja (1981). [film] Menahem Golan



Fight Club(1999). [film] David Fincher

Fist of Fury (1972). [film] Lo Wei

Fist of Legend (1994). [film] Gordon Chan

Furious 7(2015).[film] James Wan



Good Guys Wear Black (1978). [film]

Gone in 60 Seconds(2000). [film] Dominic Sena

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). [film] Gunn



Hard Target (1993). [film] John Woo

Hero (2002). [film] Zhang Yi Mou



In Hell (2003). [film]  Ringo Lam

Iron man II (2010) . [film] Jon Favreau



Jaws (1975). [film] Steven Spielberg



Kickboxer (1989). [film] Mark DiSalle & David Worth

Kill Bill Volume 1 (2003). [film] Quentin Tarantino

Kill Bill Volume 2 (2004). [film] Quentin Tarantino

Knock Off (1998). [film] Tsui Hark

Kung Fu Hustle (2004). [film] Stephen Chow

Kung Fu Panda (2008). [film] Mark Osborne, John Stevenson


Lethal Weapon (1998). [film] Richard Donner

Lionheart (1990). [film] Sheldon Lettich


Maximum Risk (1996). [film] Ringo Lam

Man of Tai Chi (2013). [film] Keanu Reeves

Missing in Action (1984). [film] Joseph Zito

Mulan (1998). [film] Tony Bancroft, Barry Cook

Mr. & Mrs. Smith(2015). [film] Dough Liman


Neil Simon’s I Ought to Be in Pictures (1982). [film] Herbert Ross

Ninja III: The Domination (1984). [film]  Sam Firstenberg

Nine Deaths of the Ninja (1985). [film] Emmett Alston

No Retreat, No Surrender (1986). [film] Corey Yuan


Once Upon a Time in China (1991-1993). [film] Tsui Hark



Platoon Leader (1988). [film] Aaron Norris

Puss in Boots (2011). [film] Chris Miller

Pray for Death (1985). [film] Gordon Hessler


Rage of Honour (1987). [film]  Gordon Hessler

Rocky (1975) . [film] John G.Avildsen

Romeo Must Die (2000). [film] Andrzej Bartkowiak

Rumble in the Bronx (1995). [film] Stanley Tong

Rush Hour (1998). [film] Brett Ratner

Rush Hour 2 (2001). [film] Brett Ratner

Rush Hour 3 (2007). [film] Brett Ratner



Shanghai Knights (2003). [film] David Dobkin

Shanghai Noon (2000). [film] Tom Dey

Shrek (2001). [film] Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson

Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978). [film] Yuen Woo Ping

Sudden Death (1995). [film] Peter Hyams

Star Wars (1977). [film] George Lucas


Tai Chi Master (1993). [film] Yuen Woo-Ping

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle(TMNT) (1990) . [film] Steve Barron

The Avengers(2012) . [film] Joss Whedon

The Big Boss (1971). [film]  Lo Wei, Wu Chia Hsiang

The Birth of Mankind (1946). [film] Paul Boga

The Bourne Series(2002-2012). [film] Dough Liman, Paul Greengrass & Tony Golroy

The Bourne series, 300 (2010). [film] Jack Snyderrt

The Chinese Connection (1971). [film]  Lo Wei

The Dragon Lives Again (1977). [film] Joe Law

The Expendables (2010). [film] Sylvester Stallone

The Expendables 2 (2012). [film] Sylvester Stallone

The Expendables 3 (2014). [film] Sylvester Stallone

The Expendables Series (2010-2014). [film] Sylvester Stallone, Simon West & Patrick Hughes

The Fearless Hyena (1979). [film] Jackie Chan, Kenneth Tsang

The Game of Death (1978). [film] Bruce Lee, Sammo Hung, Robert Clouse

The Green Hornet (2003). [film]  Michel Gondry

The Legend of Bruce Lee (1976). [film]  Daniel Lau

The Lion King (1994). [film] Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff

The Matrix films (1999-2003). [film] Wachowski

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008). [film] Rob Cohen

The Octagon (1980). [film]  Eric Karson

The One (2001). [film] James Wong

The Quest (1996). [film] Jean-Claude Van Damme

The Spy Next Door (2010). [film] Brian Levant

The Way of the Dragon (1972). [film] Bruce Lee

The Wrecking Crew (1968). [film]  Denny Tedesco

Timecop (1994). [film] Peter Hyams

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). [film] Roger Spottiswoode

Toy story (1995). [film] John Lasseter



Universal Soldier (1992). [film] Roland Emmerich



Way of the Dragon (1973). [film] Bruce Lee

Wing Chun (1994). [film] Yuen Woo-Ping

Wolverine(2009) . [film] James Mangold



X-Men(2000-2015). [film] Lauren Shuler Donner



Yes Madam (1985). [film] Corey Yuen

Skip to toolbar