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The son of legendary actor and martial artist, Bruce Lee, Brandon Lee had very big shoes to fill when he set out to make it in the film and television business. While he did manage to achieve stardom just a few years into his career, he didn’t live to enjoy his moment as his life was tragically cut short while filming The Crow. One can’t help but wonder just how big a star Brandon would have become if the unfortunate hadn’t happened when it did. However, before he died, he managed to cram interesting acting credits in his portfolio. Here is a list of the 10 greatest Brandon Lee movies ranked from best to worst.
Greatest Brandon Lee Movies Rated From Best To Worst
1. THE CROW (1994)
It is terribly cruel and sad that the greatest Brandon Lee movie turned out to be his last. The actor was accidentally killed on the set after he was shot with a loaded prop gun that was supposed to hold only blanks. The Crow features Brandon in the most dramatic role of his career. He plays Eric Draven, a young rock guitarist who is brutally murdered alongside his fiancee by a vicious criminal gang. However, a year after his death, he returns from the grave to claim revenge against the people who stole his life from him.
As far as revenge movies go, this is one of the very best. Everything is stylishly fine from the cinematography to directing, soundtracking, and acting. The Crow is seductively dark, brooding, sensitive, gritty, and full of charm. If there’s one Brandon Lee movie you should definitely see, it’s this one.
2. RAPID FIRE (1992)
Though some might disagree, Rapid Fire is among the greatest Brandon Lee movies. It’s an absolute showstopper and one of the very best action thrillers to come out of the 90s. Brandon, who is at the height of his acting powers in this film is both convincing and captivating in his role as a young art student who witnesses a drug-fueled murder and has to be placed under federal protection.
However, he soon realizes that he is far from safe and the only thing he can count on for his protection is his martial arts skills. He puts this to good use as he tries to escape death at the hands of mobsters, smugglers, and dodgy federal agents. Brandon Lee didn’t live long enough to fully explore his chops as an actor, but Rapid Fire is a testament to the cache of talent that he carried with him.
3. LEGACY OF RAGE (1986)
The actor delivers one of the finest performances of his career in this action thriller. He plays Brandon Ma, a regular guy who is just trying to make ends meet by working two jobs, so he can provide for his girlfriend and save enough to buy a motorcycle. Things are going well enough for him until his entire life is upended by his best friend, Michael, a violent and ambitious drug dealer.
Unknown to Brandon, Michael has the hots for his girlfriend and has concocted a plan to get him out of the picture, so he can win her affection. After Michael murders a dirty undercover cop who was also peddling drugs, he pins the murder on Brandon, and the latter goes to jail. Brandon soon realizes that Michael isn’t the good friend he thought him to be and vows to get his pound of flesh. This movie is a total slam dunk from start to finish.
4. KUNG FU: THE MOVIE (1986)
This 1986 revival of the David Carradine television series fuses the Eastern film traditions with the Western genre to create a movie that is scintillating to watch. Carradine stars as Caine, a mysterious Chinese-American priest whose past comes back to haunt him in the form of his son Chung Wang, played by Brandon Lee, whose existence Caine was hitherto unaware of. Chung is an assassin who has been hired by a warlord to track Caine down and kill him, although he doesn’t know the man he is after is his estranged father. Things get very heated up throughout the movie as Caine tries to find a way out of his predicament, while also fighting against corruption, racism, opium smuggling, prejudice, and a murder accusation hanging over his head. Kung Fu: The Movie is not only one of the greatest Brandon Lee’s movies out there; it also happens to be the actor’s debut.
5. DEATH BY MISADVENTURE: THE MYSTERIOUS LIFE OF BRUCE LEE (1993)
Brandon Lee stars as himself in this fascinating documentary film that tells the tale of his father’s untimely death and the wonderful life he led before that. It tackles its core subject with the help of informative interviews with Bruce Lee’s doctors and attempts to snuff out the many conspiracy theories that ran amok following the death of the beloved movie star.
Although the film delves into Bruce Lee’s past, it’s main focus is on the circumstances that led to his demise in 1973. It tackles the truth of the matter head-on without flinching and doesn’t shy away from exposing what really went down and the massive cover-up that followed. If you’re a fan of Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee’s movies, then this documentary film should be on your must-watch list.
6. BRUCE LEE: PATH OF THE DRAGON (1998)
Before Bruce Lee, no single actor could boast of the kind of drastic revolution and popularization of cinematic experiences that he engineered. We didn’t really know how incredibly cool and entertaining martial arts action movies could be until he came on the scene and showed us. He challenged the idea that Chinese actors couldn’t be leading stars in Hollywood films and showed there was a market for kung fu movies in the U.S.
Decades later, the brilliance that was his movies and the influence he wielded in the industry still holds. For this reason, several biopics and documentary films were made about him, including the 1998 Bruce Lee: Path of the Dragon. The film focuses on the icon’s impact on Eastern and Western film cultures, and it featured interviews with Lee’s fellow stars, friends, and family. It is one of the better retrospective films about the life and work of the martial arts master.
7. SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO (1991)
This 80s-style action thriller is one of the best Brandon Lee movies of his short-lived career. The actor stars alongside Dolph Lundgren who go up against a notorious drug syndicate. They kick and karate their way through the film, and are unafraid to use brawn when brains simply won’t do. The Mark Lester-directed picture is fast-paced and full of energy from the beginning all the way to its satisfying end. Brandon and Lundgren both deliver phenomenal performances, and together they have an opposites-attract type of chemistry that lures you in.
As long as you can ignore the far too many racist jokes, and the rampant yet irrelevant nudity, you will find Showdown in Little Tokyo to be a deeply enjoyable film. It’s easy to watch, supremely entertaining, well-shot, and properly acted; so consider making it one of your picks the next time you’re having a movie night.
8. BRUCE LEE: THE LEGEND LIVES ON (2002)
Directed by Ray Santilli and James Harker, this movie is one of the several biographical films that tried to examine the life of the martial arts star Bruce Lee, and how he came to be one of the biggest figures in show business. The film offers an in-depth look into his philosophies and practices that helped him achieve trailblazing success.
It actually features real footage of Bruce Lee’s teaching and training with Jeet Kune Do, in addition to footage of interviews with people who worked closely with him including Jackie Chan, Bob Wall, James Coburn, Van Williams, and his son Brandon Lee, amongst others. The film is a moving celebration and tribute to the life of a great artist, although it’s a bit unfortunate that better care wasn’t put into making it.
9. LASER MISSION (1989)
This was the movie that marked Brandon Lee’s first lead role in a U.S. feature film, but it definitely was not his brightest. The story revolves around Brandon’s character and his co-star Debi A. Monahan, both of whom are CIA agents on a mission to recover a stash of stolen diamonds and rescue a kidnapped weapons technology expert before he is forced to make a destructive device that could effectively bring the world to its knees. Although the lead stars do their best, it is not enough to rescue this movie from its poorly scripted and forgettable story. The only redeeming quality in Laser Mission is that it features Brandon Lee. Asides from that, it is an absolute waste of time.
10. BRUCE LEE: MARTIAL ARTS MASTER (1993)
This martial arts documentary film takes a deep dive into the life of the legendary actor (Bruce Lee) and his journey to fame using interviews with his son Brandon Lee and actors who knew him as the focal point. The film follows the remarkable life of the martial arts icon, right from the moment of his birth in the United States, to his mysterious and untimely death in Hong Kong. It is quite informative and offers insights into who Bruce Lee was as seen through the eyes of the people who were closest to him and knew him pretty well. Bruce Lee’s meteoric rise to fame was unprecedented and he inspired a new wave of action movies in Hollywood that is still going strong even decades after his death. Despite the noble aims of this documentary film, it was trashed by critics for being too simplistic and only offering a cursory overview of the life of the martial arts icon. Consequently, it is one of Brandon Lee’s worst film appearances.