Every Movie Starring Brandon Lee, Ranked

June 24, 2024 - Movies

Brandon Lee, a rising star whose light was extinguished far too soon, left a legacy that lived on long after he left the world. The son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, he was destined for great things both in the martial arts world and the acting world. He grew up surrounded by passionate people like Richard Bustillo and Jeff Imada, who used to train with his father. Lee also possessed an innate charm that eventually cultivated his interest in acting. But Brandon wanted to forge his own path by pursuing mainstream roles in Hollywood.

His breakthrough came during the late 1980s. Brandon stepped out of Bruce Lee’s shadow and showcased his versatility in acting by choosing complex roles. Over the next couple of years, he dazzled audiences but was yet to channel his full potential. By 1993, Brandon’s on-screen presence had become magnetic and promising. But during the filming of his most famous role, an on-set mishandling of firearms cut his life and career short.

Despite passing at the age of just 28, Brandon Lee left a lasting impression on the industry and the audiences. The five iconic feature films he managed to complete serve as an inspiration for future generations of actors, martial artists and action stars. We have ranked Brandon Lee’ short but undeniably stunning filmography in the list below.

5 Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)

Showdown in Little Tokyo is a buddy cop movie that centers around a Los Angeles cop with a score to settle. Chris Kenner may be an American, but he’s versed in all things Japanese, from the customs to the language. Paired alongside him is Johnny Murata, a young man who “was raised in the Valley” during a time when hanging out at the mall and watching MTV on dull afternoons was normal.

The two are assigned to a common task because of their shared love for martial arts – to infiltrate the criminal underworld of L.A.’s Little Tokyo and take down the Yakuza that operates from there. Kenner did things by the book, but Murata was a loose cannon. Regardless, they use their individual skills and hunt down the vicious drug lord Yoshida, break into his organization from within and bring him to justice.

Lee Holds His Own Against Dolph

Despite having a silly premise that seemed recycled to a fault, the movie ended up delivering more pulse-pounding action sequences and inventive stunt work than one would have imagined. Audiences also enjoyed it as a throwback to late 80s buddy-cop films, especially with the guns and the bad jokes. Director Mark L. Lester himself remarked that he was “going for exaggerated reality,” and on that terms, Showdown In Little Tokyo delivers.

Brandon Lee plays Johnny Murata. His intensity and physicality takes the kinetic action and gritty atmosphere to another level. Despite living a life of comfort before joining the force, he made fans root for his character with his charismatic performance. The real highlight, however, was Dolph Lundgren, who worked with a personal trainer, a drama coach, and a speech coach to ease into Kenner’s role.

4 Laser Mission (1989)

A certified so-bad-it’s-good classic, Laser Mission falls prey to false advertising, never featuring lasers in the movie except for the mention of those at some point. Dr. Braun, a laser specialist, is a coveted man both in America and the Soviet Union. The latter captures him and wants to use Dr. Braun’s talents and a stolen diamond to create a nuclear weapon. A mercenary named Michael Gold is sent to rescue the doc and the diamond. Along the way, he falls in love with Dr. Braun’s daughter, Alissa.

A Weak, Low-Budget Action Flick

Considered as a “spy action” film, Laser Mission was panned by critics because of a weak script and overused 80s clichés. The ending, too, was anticlimactic, with the protagonist killing the enemy, Col. Kalishnakov, by hitting him with a truck. It was not a blockbuster by any means, but the movie found an audience on home video and cable. Viewers ended up praising the action scenes, which weren’t disastrous for a low-budget movie and they praised the movie for helping build Lee’s international profile.

Speaking of which, Laser Mission saw Lee in yet another movie that would have otherwise set him up for bigger opportunities in Hollywood. He owned every scene with his moral code and sarcastic wit. Paired with him were Ernest Borgnine and Debi A. Monahan – the former’s presence providing unintentional humor and the latter trying to do her best impression of a Bond girl with her impressive driving skills.

Related: 18 Long Forgotten ’80s B-Movies

3 Legacy of Rage (1986)

After earning himself a role in the 1970s series Kung Fu spin-off television film Kung Fu: The Movie, which was originally conceived for his father, as his first feature, Brandon Lee made his leading man debut with the Hong Kong action crime thriller, Legacy of Rage. Directed by Ronny Yu, it is a classic revenge story that follows Brandon Ma, a regular guy who works two jobs to support his dream and his girlfriend, May. His best friend, Michael, is a murderous drug dealer and has feelings for May.

Michael comes up with a plan to betray Brandon by teaming up with a corrupt police officer and eventually getting him killed, only to put the blame on Brandon. After serving eight years in prison, Brandon is fueled with revenge.

More Than Just Martial Arts

Legacy of Rage gave young Brandon Lee his first major starring role. He was only 21 at the time, and yet, his acting skills and natural charisma showed his promise as a skilled martial artist who grew up under the tutelage and influence of Bruce Lee. The movie itself was praised greatly by audiences and critics, who called it “stylish, fast-paced, and energetic,” with some also pointing out “the largely unexplored talent of actor Brandon Lee.”

Beyond the action scenes, which were genuinely good, a standout moment in the movie was Lee’s fight with Bolo Yeung, who co-starred with Bruce Lee in Enter The Dragon. Much like his father, Brandon infused his role with loneliness, grief, hurt and a personal code of honor. His performance showed that he could carry more than just martial arts flicks. Even though Legacy of Rage was the actor’s only Hong Kong production, it became an iconic turn in his career.

2 Rapid Fire (1992)

A thrilling action movie and an underrated classic of the 1990s, Rapid Fire saw Brandon Lee as a fully formed actor. He took on the role of Jake Lo, an American art student who witnesses the murder of Carl Chang, who sponsored the party he was lured into attending. Following the incident, Jake becomes a target for two rival drug lords and a law enforcement officer who wants to put an end to the drug reign. Lieutenant Mace Ryan, the said officer, seeks Jake’s help in bringing down the criminals in exchange for providing him with protection.

Allows Lee to Showcase His Dramatic Skills

Expert fight coordinator Jeff Imada lent Brandon Lee a hand in choreographing the spectacular combat sequences, making use of guns, weapons, fists and feet alike. As a result, the movie delivered incredible action and adventure. Moreover, Lee was so comfortable with the script and his father’s legacy that he was certain that the movie would catapult him into mainstream success. Speaking of which, Rapid Fire was Lee’s second most commercially successful movie, and it established him as the next martial arts movie star.

Directed by Dwight H. Little, Rapid Fire pulled fans in with its opening seconds. It tells a decent story, features multiple climaxes and keeps the audiences engrossed in its action scenes. The movie’s most memorable moment is the fight between the legendary Al Leong and Brandon Lee. Jake Lo, Lee’s character, allows him to use his decade-long training while also giving him more dramatic layers.

1 The Crow (1994)

The Crow

Release Date
May 19, 1994


Adapted from the popular comic book series by James O’Barr, The Crow is a prime example of just how the source is supposed to be translated on the big screen. The movie saw Brandon Lee rise to his greatest fame and concluded with his tragic end. In it, Lee plays a rock musician, Eric Draven, who, along with his fiancée, Shelly Webster, is murdered on the eve of their wedding. Which also happens to be the Devil’s Night.

On the first anniversary of their deaths, Eric is resurrected by a crow to enact revenge on those responsible. Guided by the same crow and with the use of his supernatural abilities. Eric hunts each of the men who killed him through the dark, crime-ravaged streets of Detroit and seeks revenge through brutal violence.

A Cult Masterpiece and Lee’s Most Seminal Work

Director Alex Proyas brought a haunting, gothic vision to the source material. The moody and atmospheric cinematography paired with a soundtrack featuring artists like The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, and Rage Against the Machine made it a “dazzling fever dream of a movie.” The Crow also garnered a devoted following because of its Gotham City-like depiction of Detroit, use of emotions, and edgy visuals.

Lee’s turn as a vengeful lover was praised greatly. He disappeared into a role that took him away from his previous martial arts-centered outings and allowed him to channel a multilayered character driven by love, rage, and darkness. Critics praised his brooding and magnetic performance, with Roger Ebert noting “not only was this Lee’s best film, but it was better than any of his father’s.”

The tragedy of Lee’s death during filming only added to the cultural fascination with the movie and left fans wondering what greater feats the actor could have achieved had he not been robbed of a future.

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