Be Water, My Friend: The 10 Most Defining Bruce Lee Moments

9) “This Time You’re Eating Paper, The Next Time It’s Gonna Be Glass!” – Fist Of Fury (1972)


Aside from Enter The Dragon, Fist Of Fury (aka The Chinese Connection) would have to be Bruce Lee’s next most recognized film on account of the remakes and sequels that came after it, and its link to real life martial arts pioneer Huo Yuan Jia and his student Chen Zhen. The most popular of the follow ups were 1994’s Fist Of Legend with Jet Li very capably taking on the role of Chen Zhen and Yuen Woo Ping delivering his most awe-inspiring fight choreography to date, and most recently, 2010’s Legend Of The Fist: The Return Of Chen Zhen, with Donnie Yen in the titular role. While I loved both films, you just can’t beat the original, especially with scenes like this.

Chen Zhen returns to his martial arts school to find his master dead under mysterious circumstances, along with a sign stating they are the “Sick Men of Asia.” His first order of business is to storm the Japanese dojo where his master last fought, ask questions, and “return” the derogatory sign given to his school. It is within this scene that we find out just how much you should really do some serious neuron firing before challenging Chen. A cocky instructor attempts to throw Chen out of the dojo, but when that inevitably fails, every student then surrounds Chen, so he does what he does best. Shirts are removed, nunchakus come out, and all but Chen are on the floor writhing in pain. He takes the first instructor, begins tearing up the sign and forces him to eat it, while saying the above quote.

It is for the above reason that Bruce Lee’s Chen Zhen is so definitive. Played with layered emotions of melancholy and rage, Bruce takes us on a surprisingly emotional ride as he seeks out justice. And let me tell you, it wasn’t the epic fight with the entire dojo that sold me on the fact that Chen Zhen was badass, it was the very moment that followed.

Seriously, who makes anyone eat paper?