I think it’s amazing how one person can influence so much. A simple human being can make a major impact on the world. Barriers were broken. Film was changed. Even video games have felt the effect of this one person. I’m speaking of the master himself: Bruce Lee. Even though he died a decade before video games became a household item, Bruce Lee influence can be seen in some of the biggest video games today.
Of course, there are a few games starring the master himself. Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story on the Super Nintendo was the only game I had the opportunity to try, so it is the only one I can talk about with any credibility. It wasn’t a great game to be honest. It just loosely followed the movie based on Bruce Lee’s life. It was extremely difficult as well. Fighting Bruce Lee’s demon after losing your lives to come back was very frustrating. However, being a Bruce Lee fan, it was the only game I had. I never played the Xbox game. I’m hoping one day someone makes a game that really showcases not just Bruce Lee’s awesome fighting style and ability, but his philosophies as well. Until then, we can make do with his influence elsewhere.
I believe that the entire fighting genre exists because of Bruce Lee. Let’s look at Street Fighter. When Bruce Lee was alive, people wouldn’t just challenge him in tournaments; they would challenge him in street fights as well. He was someone always on a path trying to better himself and his fighting ability, similar to Ryu. There is also a character that started in Super Street Fighter named Fei Long who looks, acts, and fights just like Bruce Lee. From the shouts to the movements, Fei Long even has Bruce Lee’s grimace. And if you win a match, you are sometimes treated to a little showing of his nunchaku.
Bruce Lee’s film “Enter the Dragon,” his first and only American film, is the basis for the Mortal Kombat series. Of course, there are supernatural parts that don’t fit with the movie. However, if you look at the story for the first Mortal Kombat game, you’ll see Bruce Lee’s film’s influence all over the place. The main antagonist in the film, Hahn, is Shang Tsung. You have Bolo and O’Hara from the film, who are “sub-bosses,” similar to Goro. Even Johnny Cage is based of the character Roper, played by actor John Saxon. Both movie and game are based on martial arts tournaments that take place on an island. And I dare someone to tell me that Liu Kang is not supposed to be Bruce Lee.
It’s a shame that Bruce’s death came so early. I would love to see what he could do in film with today’s technology. However, his influence is still felt. He broke down racial barriers, and he made fighting an art form. His image appears as characters in games from Mortal Kombat (Liu Kang), to Tekken (Marshall Law), and beyond. Without Bruce Lee, who knows what the fighting genre would look like; or if it would even exist. It just goes to show that one person can impact millions if they have focus and drive and believe in themselves. As a fan of films and a fan of video games, I would just like to say: Thank you, Bruce Lee.
-The 4th Wall is an imaginary barrier that separates a particular medium from its audience. It is also a weekly column on Vagary.tv born from the Just In Bailey column, written by Joey Alesia. Each week, Joey looks at video games and the industry as a whole and works to break the 4th Wall armed with over 25 years of gaming knowledge and a twisted sense of humor. Be sure to follow Joey on Twitter (@wrkngclsswrtr) or email him at Joey.Alesia@Vagary.tv.