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Bruce could beat Jackie in ring, but Jackie had more diverse career
2005-11-25 02:40:26 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

HONG KONG, Nov. 25(AP) -- It would be the ultimate on-screen duel: Jackie Chan versus Bruce Lee, fight to the death. Who would win?

Chan has an opinion. "I don't think I could have beaten him in a fight, and I wouldn't have been dumb enough to try," Chan said in his autobiography, "I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action."

Yet, while Lee is a killing machine, Chan has pioneered his own brand of action moves, mixing kung fu, death-defying stunts and physical comedy.

Lee's movies tend to revolve around the late actor crushing hordes of opponents, often enemies of the working class or Chinese.

Chan's stories are more varied and lighthearted.

Two of the biggest Chinese movie stars in history offer a stark contrast in styles and philosophies.

Lee's roots are genuine kung fu. He even pioneered his own method of fighting, Jeet Kune Do (Way of the Intercepting Fist), which draws from various martial arts disciplines.

The sheer force of Lee's presence is best captured in kill mode, when Lee resembles the cartoon character Hulk. He turns primal, licking his blood, letting out barbaric screams. Lee's fist shudders after some punches.

In "Fists of Fury," also known as "The Big Boss," Lee exacts revenge on his boss for the death of his fellow factory workers. It's total bloodshed, bodies everywhere, with Lee the last one standing. He's a real-life superhero, invincible no matter the odds.

Chan is a defensive, improvisational fighter. His movements are acrobatic, dance-like _ the influence of his Peking Opera training. Chan rarely dominates his opponents. He uses every available prop on hand in fights, be it a table or a chair.

"By contrast, Jackie is much more the 'ordinary guy' forced to do extraordinary things," film scholar David Bordwell, author of "Planet Hong Kong: Popular Cinema and the Art of Entertainment," said.

Indeed, Chan likes to dwell on his mortality as a source of humor. In one "Project A" scene, after one round of fighting, Chan and his opponent duck aside and display pained expressions. Chan always looks panicked; Lee is forever in command.

Chan is known for performing daring stunts, almost doing stunts for the sake of doing them.

In "Project A," he leaps while riding a bicycle and lands on it again. He falls from a clock tower, plunging through two awnings before hitting the ground. In "Police Story" he latches onto a bus with the handle of an umbrella and manages to climb onto the vehicle.

Chan likes to highlight his audacity by repeating stunt scenes in movies.

Lee's movies can be chest-thumping celebrations of Chinese ethnic pride. In "The Chinese Connection," also known as "Fist of Fury," Lee plays a kung fu fighter who takes on rival Japanese behind his master's murder. He kicks aloft a park sign that says, "no dogs and Chinese allowed," leaps in the air and shatters the sign with a kick.

But Lee's movies are so dependent on his personality they often have little in the way of plot. A typical plot is an outnumbered Lee going berserk and dominating his opponents.

Even Lee fans concede this point. "If you look at Bruce Lee movies, to be honest, some plots are really bad. You're purely watching his individual performance," said Wong Yiu-keung, chairman of the Hong Kong-based Bruce Lee Club.

"Lee could design strong action sequences, and he found many ways to spotlight himself, but most of his films are ordinary at the level of film technique," film scholar Bordwell observed.

Chan's movies are better productions.

A Lee-Chan comparison isn't entirely fair. Lee died of an edema at the age of 32 in 1973, with just four completed movies under his belt. Unlike the 51-year-old Chan, he didn't have the chance to develop his career.

However different their styles, Lee and Chan are closely linked.

Lee and Chan crossed paths in Lee's "Enter the Dragon," in which Chan plays one of Lee's conquered enemies. Lee introduced Western audiences to kung fu, paving the way for Chinese action stars like Chan and later Jet Li. Lee's producer Raymond Chow went on to work with Chan.

Chan says Lee served as a role model. He wrote in his autobiography that before meeting Lee, he was content with being a stuntman for the rest of his life.

But Lee's stardom inspired him to strive for greatness. "I guess maybe that's when I first realized the horizon of what was possible was bigger and grander than I'd imagined. After all, if Bruce could do it, why couldn't I?" Chan wrote.

Lee's former director Lo Wei wanted to mold Chan into the next Lee, casting him in the unimaginatively named "New Fist of Fury." Chan hated the experience and set out to become the anti-Lee, charting his own comedic style.

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