“ Genre: Action & Adventure / Theatrical Release: 1972 / Director: Bruce Lee / Actors: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao ... / DVD released 11 June, 2001 at Contender Entertainment Group / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, Collector's Edition, PAL, Widescreen „
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1972's Way of the Dragon is the third film Bruce Lee made with Golden Harvest Studio during his (sadly) brief career and one that he directed and conceived himself. Having turned the Hong Kong film industry upside down with his sudden popularity and strong personality (studios there were not used to having terms dictated to them by actors, even less ones who had become domestic icons), Lee wanted to challenge preconceived notions of what people expected from Hong Kong kung fu films, most of which he thought were absolutely terrible. In an unheard of move, Way of the Dragon would import Western martial arts stars to fight Lee and would also be the first Hong Kong film to shoot in Europe. As it turned out though, Way of the Dragon was as raw and cheapjack onscreen as his first two films but it did feature one of the greatest and most famous fight scenes of his career and if you can get through the less than subtle acting, slapstick, and the idiotic and occasionally incomprehensible comedy interludes then there is some fantastic material involving Bruce Lee to reward you. In the film Lee plays Tang Lung, a simple country boy who leaves Hong Kong to help his cousin Chen Ching Hua (Nora Miao) and other family members who run a restaurant in Rome. A worried Chen explains that the restaurant she inherited is situated on land wanted by the Mafia. The Mafia have been sending heavies to intimidate the staff and drive away customers and she is at her wits end. As expected (by the audience anyway) Tang proves to be more than a match for these Mafia goons when he arrives at the restaurant and his incredible kung fu skills have the Mafia heavies scuttling away to lick their wounds and the Chinese waiters at the restaurant hugely impressed and eager for martial arts lessons from their unexpected new protector. But the Mafia boss (John T Benn) and his lieutenant Ho (Wei Ping Ao) are not ready to give up on the land so easily. They intend to use bullets and if that doesn't work have hired three highly skilled foreign martial artists to challenge and hopefully defeat Tang. A Japanese karate instructor (played by Korean Hapkido master Hwang In-Shik) and American karate stars Bob Wall and Chuck Norris as characters named "Fred" and "Colt" respectively. Some famous confrontations are now on the horizon...
The success of his previous picture Fist of Fury made Bruce Lee a superstar in Hong Kong and the Far East and his two picture contract with Golden Harvest and Raymond Chow had now expired. What he really wanted to do was land the lead role in The Warrior - a television series he had frequently tried to pitch to Warners and the ABC network in the United States about a serene wandering Shaolin warrior-priest in the Old American West who is reluctant to use his deadly martial arts skills but will do so to help those in desperate need. Lee was devastated when he got a telegram from Warners telling him that he would not be involved in the series as his casting had been rejected by the network. The Warrior was renamed Kung Fu and - to add insult to injury - the part of the Chinese warrior-priest that Lee had so coveted went to the white American actor David Carridine. With Hollywood apparently not yet ready to cast a Chinese actor in such a leading role, Lee set about setting up his next Hong Kong project instead. Now out of contract, he turned down numerous offers, including one from Shaw Brothers - who were still mortified on missing out on signing the rising star in the first place and promised him twenty times more than whatever Golden Harvest were paying. Lee still though took full advantage of the strength his sudden fame and adulation had given him. He met with Raymond Chow and suggested that instead of signing a new contract with Golden Harvest they should become partners and set up a new production company to make more films for the studio. Chow would look after the business side and Lee would have full creative control over his work. Chow was in no position to argue (even a half-share association with Bruce Lee was like sitting on a goldmine in Hong Kong) and abandoned the plans he'd had for Lo Wei direct Lee in a film called Yellow-Faced Tiger. Lee wanted nothing more to do with Lo Wei after the disinterested and amateurish fashion in which the director had approached Fist of Fury and decided he would write and direct his next film. With his new found autonomy and freedom (and a slightly larger if still hardly lavish budget of $130,000), Lee enthusiastically began work on Way of the Dragon.
Way of the Dragon is often played as a comedy (the character played by Lee is frequently much lighter and more naive than the one he played in Fist of Fury) and the most polite thing to say is that the humour doesn't always work if you are not Chinese and sitting in a Hong Kong cinema in the early seventies. When Bruce Lee arrives in Rome at the start of the film there are some fairly bizarre and not very funny antics involving his search for a toilet and Tang ordering several bowls of soup in a restaurant by mistake because he doesn't understand the local lingo. Every single joke and sight gag is hammered home by the somewhat annoying wah wahs on the soundtrack - just in case we had missed any of these side splitting interludes. What is interesting here is the way you have to wait about half an hour before Bruce Lee actually does anything in the way of fighting. It's as if he knows that's the only reason anyone is watching this film so he's going to make you wait and look at something else first. The pedestrian early pace of the film and the comic vignettes (and the fact that it appears to be rather similar in plot to The Big Boss) make one fear for the worst but Way of the Dragon becomes something of a cheese laden minor cult classic once it finally kicks into gear. There are some great scenes where Lee practices his kung fu alone and the sequences where he gives the Chinese waiters some lessons in an alley behind the restaurant are hugely enjoyable. Tang kicks a punching bag and sends the man who was holding it flying in comic fashion. These moments are of course much more natural and amusing than Bruce Lee ordering eight bowls of soup or desperately needing to use the bog. The use of Western martial artists in a Hong Kong film was revolutionary at the time and the imposing Bob Wall (who went on to star with Lee in Enter the Dragon) is good value as usual. Wall was fully prepared to take a few hits for real for the sake of authenticity and so his fight sequences are as ever very good.
Chuck Norris was completely unknown at the time as far as acting went but a real life karate champion of some distinction. His showdown with Lee inside the Colosseum in Rome is the highlight of the picture and one of the most memorable sequences Lee was ever involved in. The pair confront one another with the respect and formality of samurai warriors and an epic contest ensues. Bruce Lee cast Norris because he found that few martial artists or stuntmen were fast enough to believably fight him onscreen. Norris was different and it made their staged fight much more authentic and all the more inspired for the setting (although the Colosseum backdrop sometimes looks noticeably fake when the location footage in Rome cuts to studio interiors). Lee spent nearly 50 hours working on the scene and choreographing with Norris and if a single movement wasn't to his liking he would scrap it and reshoot until it was perfect. The respect of the two combatants as they fight to the death is rather touching and there are some clever little touches. Lee snatching a clump of the hirsute Chuck's chest hair in his hand and the fact that their only audience is a stray kitten. Notice how Lee eventually becomes more limber and fluid and bounces up and down on his toes in order to become more unpredictable and harder to hit for his opponent. He was inspired by watching film of master defensive boxers Muhammad Ali and Willie Pep and wanted to show how a dexterous and versatile fighting system would be too much for the rigidity of karate. Not sure how Chuck Norris felt about this but he was a friend of Lee and just happy to be in the film I suppose. Maybe it never occurred to him much at the time. While there is never any doubt about who is going to win (Bruce Lee was the writer, director and star!) I like the way they make the fight competitive with a bit of ying and yang.
One thing worth mentioning here is that the villains try to shoot Bruce Lee with guns. This is worth discussion because guns were something of a rarity in old kung fu films and probably led to countless people decades later shouting "Why don't they just shoot him?" at their television screen. Bruce Lee uses blow darts to disable those trying to shoot him here and the absence of guns in most kung fu films was not merely a convenient plot contrivance. Places in the Far East like Hong Kong and Singapore had experienced the British tradition of unarmed police and strict gun control and so often really did settle their disputes with their fists! Way of the Dragon is another good bad film. It's often terrible but brilliant when Lee is doing something. I must mention Wei Ping Ao too. The campest villain sidekick in cinema history and what a terribly evil laugh. At the time of writing you can buy this for under five pounds with a theatrical trailer, some rare television spots, an extensive photo archive, a selection of interviews and text files on the production of the film. This is no Enter the Dragon but if you are interested in Bruce Lee and Hong Kong cinema then these films are always entertaining to a fashion and Way of the Dragon in particular has a few iconic flourishes and sequences that enable one to be slightly more forgiving of its obvious shortcomings and more eccentric interludes.
Bruce Lee returns in his directorial debut!
Lee plays a man who goes to Rome, a strange country to him, to help out some relatives who own a restaurant and have been intimidated by gangsters. At first, he has no idea how to act in terms of body language or what to say to people because of the difference in culture and first appears to his relatives to be useless but they soon change their minds when they first see him dishing out his kind of martial arts.
Chuck Norris makes an appearance as the final "boss" like character that Lee has to beat and what a fight it is!
It's also the film that launched Norris's career!
As a Bruce Lee film, it has plenty of humour and good fight scenes, some witty dialogue and good direction from Lee.
The dual nunchuka sequence is terrific and one of the standout sequences of the film, next to Lee's fight with Norris.
Even the soundtrack is pretty good.
The acting from Bruce is not his best, in fact, I'd say it was his worst performance as he hams it up but it does the job.
After all, this is a film not to be taken seriously.
It's a classic Bruce Lee film that deserves to be seen by martial arts fans, who no doubt, know about the film already.
As a fan of Bruce Lee, I was genuinely looking forward to watching Way of the Dragon as it is starring, written and directed by the man himself.
The plot, like most good kung fu movies, is relatively simple. Lee is Tang Lung (literally "Chinese Dragon), a country boy from China who has been sent to Rome to help his niece and some family friends defend their restaurant from local mafia thugs.
The sides of good and evil are clearly marked out. It's a matter of family and brotherhood against the manpower of the mafia. I feel obliged to say that I don't think the fact that the story is simple is a valid criticism given that this is a kung fu movie and the main purpose is to set up the fight scenes. That said, the story is enjoyable to watch for character development and finding out the lead up to the next conflict.
The fight scenes are awesome, it's really enjoyable to watch Lee rip a gang of thugs to pieces in such style. There is also something very satisfying and timeless about watching people get kicked in the face like a shotgun.
As you might have guessed from the title, there is an epic 1-on-1 fight between Norris and Lee. Martial arts buffs may want to watch this film simply for that reason.
Bruce Lee reminds me of Shaun the Sheep in this, just because he spends a lot of time mute and it's his actions and facial expressions that do the talking. You can tell it's meant to be an action comedy simply by watching his emotive facial expressions. His unfamiliarity and suspicion with Italian customs is also very amusing to watch and as of course, there are people getting beaten up in hilarious ways.
I was satisfied with the ending and even though the premise of the film is simple, the ending is be no means predictable.
All in all, just an enjoyable film with some fantastic fight scenes.
Bruce Lee is an American, born in San Francisco. Yep! I bet you didn't know that, as I didn't know that. He also had one leg shorter than the other by an inch and he was myopic (short-sighted) from birth, equally unexpected revelations, considering he also went on to be the most famous martial arts star of all time-and that is why you should always listen to audio commentaries when you get the chance as you find out all sorts of interesting and revealing things on classic movies.
After enjoying the layered track on Fist of Fury, one of Lee's other classics (the cult film that including the bizarre scene where the words greatest Kung-Fu master is caught off guard at a funeral by a surprise frying pan attack to the back of the head of all things, sending him tumbling into the hole where the coffin is) I rented this for more of the same and wasn't disappointed. It's an iconic film I have seen many times and I needed to know more about it, again the commentary by Bay Logan, who did the 'Fist of Fury' one, a renowned martial arts writer from the then British colony of Hong Kong.
So, 'The Way of the Dragon'- known as the Return of the Dragon to American audiences- is Lee's last but one movie before his mysterious death in 1973, tragically taken half-way through the filming of his final film, the 'Game of Death', skillfully re-mastered to get the movie out as his epitaph. Rather oddly his son Brandon Lee also died during filming one of his movies, almost to the same minute, hour and day. But it all adds to the enigma of the man and sealed the legend Bruce Lee most certainly was. Even as late as 1995 this move was still in the all-time top 50 worldwide VHS grosses, such was Lee's appeal to film fans around the globe, the main reason why China has such a flourishing fake DVD industry today. Everyone in South East Asia had to have his movies in the 1970s as he transcended politics and royalty across the region.
In many ways Lee was a pioneer of cinema, one of the first stars of a movie to also direct himself in the same movie, as well as being one of the first to use specifically composed and selected music for the movies soundtrack, including some Ennio Morricone from the western' C'era una volta il West'.
The film was also known for its pioneering special effects, Lee the first to use powders bags on the actor's bodies that gave a realistic dust effect to try and express impact of his light speed kicks and blows, a common effect used in all movies today.
Bruce Lee ... Tang Lung
Nora Miao ... Chen Ching Hua
Chuck Norris ... Colt
Ping-Ao Wei ... Ho
Chung-Hsin Huang ... 'Uncle' Wang)
Robert Wall ... Fred (Bob Fred)
Ing-Sik Whang ... Japanese Fighter
Tony Liu ... Tony
Unicorn Chan ... Jimmy
Malisa Longo ... Italian Beauty
Fu Ching Chen ... Waiter
Chin Ti ... Ah Quen
Wu Ngan ... Waiter
Robert Chen ... Robert
Jon T. Benn ... Boss
Bruce plays country bumpkin Tang Lung, sent over to Rome by his Uncle Wong (Chung-Hsin) from Honk Kong by his extended family to help resolve a problem with some local mobsters at the family restaurant, managed by of Uncle Ho (Ping-Ao Wei), the thugs threatening to trash the place if the family don't sell up. At first the Restaurant owners and family are not impressed with Tang, especially the pretty front-of-house manager Chen (Nora Miao), but all still oblivious to his martial arts skills, they expecting their uncle Wong to come over and sort things with amore methodical approach. But Uncle is ill so they have to make do with Tang, the local mob boos (John Benn) and his goons soon turning up to trash the restaurant once again.
The waiters (as you would expect in these movies) all fancy themselves at Karate and ready to impress their new cousin with Japanese martial arts, but soon smashed around the place by the goons in front of him. Later, after letting the staff hit him with some lucky shots in the yard using karate, he demonstrates the true power of Kung Fu, he, too, smashing them, and then the bad guys, through the wall. The message is clear: Kung Fu is better than Karate and Tang Lung is the only one who can save the restaurant and the day. So enter western Karate champion Colt (Chuck Norris), hired by the boss to take out Tang, leading to the memorable final showdown in Rome's world famous Coliseum. This was really was Japan V China on the big screen and no other movie has been allowed to be shot inside the Coliseum since to preserve the historic moment on film, whether meant or not by the Italians.
Chow: "What's this?"
Chen: "It's the Coliseum"
Chow: "That's nothing. My neighborhood has more run-down areas than that".
Lee deliberately made a movie that would suit American audiences, playing up to Chinese stereotypes and using crude American slang in the sub-titles (frequently referring to the toilet as the 'shi**er', an example) to earn that audience interest for future movies, but mixing things up some with Chinese humor that only they would get. The film did an impressive £5.3 million in America at the time and would top the Billboard charts and would be the one that would cement his God like status on the planet.
It was low budget stuff in Rome, believed to be the first Chinese kung fu film ever to be shot outside of Asia, Lee roping in local backpackers to play the bad guys, accidentally punching a couple of them out in rehearsals. The film was also shot without sound; Lee dubbing most of the other male characters himself in the edit suit at his own studios. It was very much a one cut movie and made for just $150, 000 dollars in coalition with Golden Harvest Studios.
Although the film is geared towards the US, the westerners are knocked down like skittles here for that mass Chinese audience. Lees name in the film, Tang Lung, means 'Chinese Dragon' and the film is very much east takes on west. It's never explained in the plot why some American thugs want to run some Chinese immigrants out of a dingy restaurant in Rome and the film doesn't really matter much until Chuck Norris turns up for the last 15 minutes, very much chopsuey stuff up until that point. But for its time it was big news and Lee looks incredible on screen, not an ounce of fat on his mind-boggling physique and his feet and fists as fast as a lizards tongue. To think that he would be dead just 6 months later is hard to fathom. Originally the American boxing champ Joe Lewis was lined up to play the Chuck Norris role.
One scene from the film was banned for 20 years from western audiences, the Nunchuka sticks fight scene deemed too violent, but almost comical on screen as the wooden sticks hitting foreheads made sounds like two coconuts being hit together on the audio effects.
Imdb.com scores it: 6.90 out of 10:0 (Votes, 4,088)
Radio Times Film book scores it 3/5
Leonard Maltin's film book scores it: 3/5
Martin and Marsha's film book scores it: 3/5
Halliwells Film Almanac scores it: 3/5
= = = = = SPECIAL FEATURES = = = = =
-Audio commentary by Bay Logan-
Bay is English born and knows his stuff. This is one of the more interesting and talky style of layered tracks out there and well worth a go. Bey is joined by the now aging John Benn to share his experiences of the film as we hear some greats stuff on the great Bruce lee. One amusing story Benn tells is when they first met, Benn smoking a cigar, which Lee immediately kicked out of his mouth with lightning speed, his little toe brushing the ash off, an astounded Benn left in awe and open mouthed, the cigar sticking to the sweat on his rubbery red lip.
A text option to read up on Bruce's career...
-Cast and crew-
The surviving cast talks about their experiences with Lee and the making of the movie, which again is interesting and poignant stuff for fans.
-Reflections of the Life of the Dragon-
Again, more intriguing and funny behind the scenes stuff as Benn and co talk about their role in the film, and more memories of Lee, including Bruce doing 100 one finger push-ups. Remember. Now think about that feat for a moment. That's how fit and strong Lee was. that was just 6 months before his death...
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RuN-TiMe 100 minutes
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Bruce Lee wrote, directed and stars in this masterpiece.. The original title was Way of the Dragon, but after the tremendous success of Enter The Dragon (1973), the title was renamed "Return of the Dragon." It's actual Asian name is "Meng long guojiang " Before there was Jackie Chan, Jet Li or any other martial arts wannabees there was Bruce Lee (in fact Jackie had a minor role as a good in "Enter the Dragon"). Bruce was and shall ever be the master when it comes to martial arts entertainment. Of course we have more high risk stunts today, but the heart of many of these flicks nowadays draws inspiration from Bruce and his movies. The plot of this one is that Lee is a country boy going to Italy help a family friend whose Chinese restaurant is being bullied by local gangsters. The movie is nothing short of brilliant and it has several themes to it, and yes I'll explain everyone of them. Bruce Lee in all his films managed to maintain a family element in his films. He is either fighting alongside family members against crooked politicians or Chinese gangs. In short, he comes to his family's defense when they need him. Also unlike most Hollywood directors who use people for a film and throw them away, Lee always wanted to include his friends in his films (Chuck Norris, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Nora Miao and others). The costar of this film, Nora Miao who was in The Chinese Connection and Fists of Fury. She is a pretty decent actress in those films. So Bruce comes in to help his family from these thugs threating their humble establishment and he beats the hell out of them. LOL Nora Miao was also one of the last people to see Bruce Lee alive before his untimely death. I remember the first time as a kid I saw Bruce Lee's movie in the U.S. not only were they good ,but soon after many Asian stars (Jet Li, Chow Yung Fat, Jackie Chan) saw there was
a market for martial arts action and gave their best efforts to live up to the same high quality Bruce Lee had in his movies. On top of that, the whole Martial Arts movement have inspired many people to take self defense karate courses and martial arts training. A kick can do much more damage than a fist sometimes. Anyhow, soon the head crime boss (Robert Wall who is the godfather of Freddie Prince Jr.) enlist the help of a famous US martial artist named Colt (Chuck Norris) to eliminate Bruce. The action scenes are incredible. To see Bruce go into his routine and execute his moves to perfection is inspiring. Especially the fight with Chuck Norris, before fights him he goes into a mind boggling array of stretch exercises that were soon copied by bogus Bruce Lee imitators including Chuck Norris. Without giving too much away, the film is jam-packed with flying fists, kicks and humor. In one scene for example, an Italian thug tries to use Bruce Lee's nunchucks against him and ends up hurting himself!!! The movie is a great buy for any action fan, and if you're a Bruce Lee fan, you should have this in you're collection. More info about the movie: On Amazon.com, the movie has gotten great feedback from it's viewers, including Leonard Maltin. Chuck Norris was a student of Bruce Lee's martial arts school along with James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and others. The stars essentially "used" Bruce so they could keep themselves in shape and often used him not only as a person trainer but a trainer in martial arts in Bruce's area known as Jeet Kun Do. Raymond Chow produced this film but it was Lee who wrote ,directed and starred in it. Raymond Chow has executively produced another great martial arts films like "Police Story" by Jackie Chan and the Bruce Lee movies "Fists of Fury" , &quo
t;Chinese Connection" and "Enter the Dragon."
Looks like i'm the first to write about this film. Well this is probably Bruce Lee's second best film, like the rest of his chinese offerings it is quite simple in storyline but very hard hitting in martial arts fun. The story that there is, is about Bruce Lee's character Tung Lao who is brought over from China to Italy to help protect his uncles restaurant from a gang of thugs who want to take over the restaurant. After a series of defeats at the hands of Bruce Lee the group bring in Chuck Norris the (i think) 6 time world karate champion. The fight that comes off of this has become legendary, mainly because it brings two of the worlds greatest martial artists into one film and pits them against each other. Other reasons why it is legendary is because the fight is truely brilliant and shows the contrast between the styles that they use. The acting throughout the film is a basic martial arts movie standard, it's nothing that's going to win awards but it's reasonable and just helps the movie along Same with the scripting really and the dialogue. The only thing that really stands out is the cheoreography which was set up by Bruce Lee and with some help from Norris. All of the fight scenes are great and are brilliantly put together. Way of the Dragon isn't the best of films but it's a good martial arts films and has the most well know fight in it. Over all really just watch the film for that fact.
Bruce Lee pays a visit to family members who own a restaurant in Italy, but mobsters who want the land the eatery is built upon, harass the owners, forcing Lee to defend his family as only he can. In the film's high-voltage, high-kickin' finale, Lee, for the sake of his loved ones, must battle a U.S. karate expert (Chuck Norris) in a Roman coliseum. The last film that Bruce Lee completed, he did not live to see its release.