Enter The Dragon? Wrestling With The Martial Arts Phenomenon Part 1

High-flying kicks combined with deadly punches and lethal throws. A lone warrior single-handedly overpowering a band of burly attackers; An old sage imparting wisdom to a young, attentive disciple These images depict how many people perceive the martial arts (literally, the arts of warfare) - and for good reason. Such popular images of Asian-based fighting techniques stem largely from stylized portrayals on the silver screen.

Some of today's leading action stars have made it big because of the martial arts. Bruce Lee, who tragically died in 1973 of a cerebral aneurysm, popularized the martial arts movie genre in the United States with films like Enter the Dragon, which to date has grossed $150 million. Karate champion Chuck Norris, who began his film career with a string of moderately budgeted martial arts movies, now commands "nearly $2 million per film and pals around with U.S. presidents."[1] Tough guy Steven Seagal, an aikido exponent who made his screen debut in 1988, has starred in five hits - each accumulating dollar earnings in the tens of millions. Belgian-born Jean-Claude Van Damme, one of today's most popular movie heroes, also came on the scene in 1988 with a martial arts film that harvested a net sum of $19 million.

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