Bruceploitation: Knock-Off Martial Arts Films Cash In On Bruce Lee’s Success

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Written By Henry Dalziel

I've been living and working in Hong Kong since 2016 as an SEO Professional.

Bruceploitation is a phrase that was coined to characterise the practise of filmmakers in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong hiring Bruce Lee look-alikes to star in several low-budget, knock-off martial arts films in order to capitalise on Bruce Lee’s popularity after he passed away. The passing of Bruce Lee in 1973 was a tragic event that shocked the entire globe. At the age of 32, he was already at the pinnacle of his professional career. His premature death created a hole in the genre of martial arts films, which was immediately filled by films of the Bruceploitation variety. The films labelled as Bruceploitation were often made on a shoestring budget and showed very little to no actual martial arts skill. Actors with little to no prior expertise were frequently cast in the roles of Bruce Lee clones, and the action sequences were poorly choreographed. Bruceploitation films, despite their generally poor quality, enjoyed enormous success in Asian countries. They not only met the need for films on martial arts in the wake of Bruce Lee’s passing, but they also provided fans with the opportunity to view new Bruce Lee flicks. In the early 1980s, the genre of martial arts film began to develop, which coincided with the beginning of the decline of the phenomena known as Bruceploitation. As time went on, filmmakers developed newer and better films, and audiences became less interested in watching films that were bad imitations of Bruce Lee. Despite the fact that they are generally of poor quality, Bruce Lee films have a significant position in the annals of martial arts cinematic history. They serve as a poignant reminder of the enormous influence that Bruce Lee had not just on the genre but also on the world.
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