“That’s why I don’t do jump kicks”: Chuck Norris Gained Serious Weight to Fight Bruce Lee in $130M Movie That Made Martial Arts Films Mainstream in America

Throwback to when Chuck Norris decided to bulk up just to take on Bruce Lee in 1972’s The Way of the Dragon.

Written by: Siddhika


Reviewed by: Sayantan


“That’s why I don’t do jump kicks”: Chuck Norris Gained Serious Weight to Fight Bruce Lee in $130M Movie That Made Martial Arts Films Mainstream in America

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SUMMARY

Chuck Norris, a legendary martial arts figure, turned 84 on March 10th.
His performance in Golden Harvest’s The Way of the Dragon was his most notable contribution to the martial arts movie industry.

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Would you believe it if we told you that Chuck Norris, a legendary figure in martial arts and popular culture, turned 84 this past Sunday (March 10th)? Well, it is true, and we must accept that age is just a number. As we reflect on his incredible career and impact on the world of martial arts films, we must acknowledge one of his most important contributions to the genre: his role in Golden Harvest’s The Way of the Dragon.
Chuck Norris in The Delta ForceChuck Norris in The Delta Force
With a black belt in Tang Soo Do, this Oklahoma native star is one of the most recognizable figures in the world of martial arts movies. Known for his incredible skills and tough-guy persona, he has left a lasting impression on the industry.

But did you know that he once gained weight in preparation for a role that would pit him against another martial arts legend, Bruce Lee, in the classic $130 million flick (The Way of the Dragon)?

Exploring Chuck Norris’ Iconic Role in The Way of the Dragon

Martial arts movies were still largely unpopular in America in the early 1970s, having become more popular in Asian nations. However, these films gained traction in American cinema with the release of The Way of the Dragon in 1972, which featured the epic fight between Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee.

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As Empire states, the movie was ultimately “responsible for maintaining the momentum of martial arts films in America”, despite its initial intention to target only the Asian market. Of course, it was also the film that launched Norris’ career. His physical makeover for the role of Colt, Lee’s Tang Lung tough rival, was one of the most iconic elements of the movie.
Bruce Lee and Chuck NorrisBruce Lee and Chuck Norris in The Way of the Dragon
Actors regularly work out, change their weight, or make any other preparations needed for a movie. Norris had to go the other way, as some actors are more likely to drop weight for a movie. The producer reportedly advised him to gain weight, according to Mental Floss. Prior to filming, the actor put on twenty pounds in total.

We know it sounds like a lot, but Norris put a lot of effort into fulfilling the request. He had to do this in order to appear bigger on camera than Lee. His weight gain did have an impact; he was unable to perform jump kicks, for instance, in the movie. According to Mental Floss, Norris told Empire in 2007.

“That’s why I don’t do jump kicks [in the movie]. I couldn’t get off the ground!”

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Well, his dedication to the role and his readiness to put himself through physical hardships made The Way of the Dragon a box office hit and contributed to the rise in popularity of martial arts movies in the United States.

Witness the Power: Chuck Norris Shows Age Is Just a Number at 84

Chuck Norris in Missing in ActionChuck Norris in Missing in Action
Chuck Norris turned 84 on Sunday and proved that he is still in excellent physical shape. The action star and martial artist celebrated the event by posting an Instagram video of himself thrashing a punching bag on a lawn with a view of the ocean. Laughing, he declared at the end of the video:

“You know, I’m 84 today, but I feel like I’m 48!”

The Good Guys Wear Black star penned in the post’s caption:

“God bless you all. Feeling good and staying active! Thank you all for the wonderful birthday wishes. God Bless.”

Friends, fans, and other martial artists quickly flooded his post with comments, many of them marveling at his dashing young appearance. His co-star in The Expendable 2, Dolph Lundgren, wrote:

“Happy Birthday, Chuck. You look terrific! Dolph.”

Jesus Revolution author Greg Laurie made a notable comment:

“Happy Birthday, Chuck! You are a National treasure and a true inspiration. God bless you!”

In response, UFC champion Jon Jones added an emoji of raised hands, saying:

“That guy.”

Georges St-Pierre, the former UFC fighter, wrote “Legend” and included a fire emoji.

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Norris rose to fame when Bruce Lee paired him with his character in the martial arts action comedy The Way of the Dragon. After starring in the 1978 film Good Guys Wear Black, he had his big break and went on to become one of the most successful actors in the action genre in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Way of the Dragon is streaming on Hoopla.

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