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Way of the Dragon

Someone's going to pay: Bruce Lee in Way of the Dragon.
AKA: Return of the Dragon (US Title)
Chinese: 猛龍過江  
Year: 1972
Director: Bruce Lee
Producer: Raymond Chow, Bruce Lee
Writer: Bruce Lee
Action: Bruce Lee
Cast: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, Chuck Norris, Bob Wall, Whang Ing-Sik, John Benn, Unicorn Chan, Wei Ping-Ao
The Skinny: Martial arts superstar Bruce Lee beats the hell out of a hairy Chuck Norris and several other hooligans in his 1972 directorial debut Way of the Dragon. Sit back and enjoy.
Review by

Conventional wisdom would suggest that when comparing martial artists, Bruce Lee stands supreme as the intense, indestructible killing machine, whereas Jackie Chan is the reverse: a happy-go-lucky everyman who just happens to know kung fu. But Bruce Lee's performance in 1972's Way of the Dragon runs counter to that assumption. Oh sure, Bruce kicks the living bejeezus out of everyone who gets in his way, but to be honest, his character is only a step away from the prototypical Jackie Chan character. Just like Jackie was in Rumble in the Bronx, Rush Hour, and Shanghai Noon, our man Bruce is the proverbial fish out of water in Way of the Dragon.

In Way of the Dragon, Bruce stars as Tang Lung, the Hong Kong equivalent of a backwater hick, who is plopped down in the middle of bustling Italy. In a departure from his two previous HK roles, Lee is not all business this time around: he smiles, jokes, laughs, and generally mugs for the camera when he's not dealing out some martial justice. The comedy is not limited to Tang Lung though. If you ever wanted to know what a cross between Sam Lee and Starsky and Hutch's Huggy Bear would look like, you'll want to check out the unfortunately named Mr. Ho (Wei Ping-Ao), a preening, pink clothed punk in the employ of the enemy. As with a Jackie Chan film, there's not much romance for Bruce this time around either, as the poor guy has to fight off his irritable bowels just about as frequently as he does the local thugs who are muscling in on the neighborhood Chinese restaurant.

Of course, everyone will want to check out the famous Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris confrontation in the Colosseum, and with good reason - it's a stellar fight. In fact, Bruce is able to even work in his own personal philosophy of the martial arts during the battle. If you'll notice, Tang Lung only begins to beat the American fighter Colt (Norris) when he abandons his strictly Chinese style of fighting for something more effective, a perfect example of Bruce Lee's adopted precept, "Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is uniquely your own." Deep philosophy and toilet humor? What a movie! (Calvin McMillin 2002)


Region 1 NTSC
20th Century Fox
English Dubbed
Dolby Digital 2.0
Removable English Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc

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image courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Video Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen