Director – Bruce Lee (The Story, Game of Death)
Starring – Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris (Firewalker, Invasion U.S.A.), and Nora Miao (The Big Boss, Fist of Fury)
Release Date – 1972
Rating – 2.5/5
Blu Release – 3.5/5
I remember watching a lot of sci-fi and horror films with my grandmother as I was growing up. My dad would leave town a lot to attend auto auctions and would often leave my sister and I with her while he was out of town. I remember watching several martial arts films during this time. I remember her mocking the films but I recalled actually liking them. Like most fans of kung fu flicks, I really liked the intensity of Bruce Lee and how well choreographed the fight scenes are.
I watched several of his films with her but since then I’ve not really revisited them until they were sent over for review. A few weeks back Umbrella Entertainment sent over Lee’s The Way of the Dragon. I remember my original viewing of this was something that stood out due to the amazing fight scene between Lee and Chuck Norris. I couldn’t wait to revisit it. Like always I want to thank Umbrella for sending this one over.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a martial arts master who visits some friends and family in Italy. They own a restaurant and they are being pressured to pay for protection from a local gangster. However, he intervenes to put a stop to the corruption and soon finds himself forced to fight several martial artists hired by the gangster to end his life. **Spoiler Alert**
I don’t remember a lot about this one before my revisit aside from the epic battle between Lee and Norris. Sadly, that’s because the film is a tough one to sit through aside from the action scenes. The movie’s blend of dry humor and over-dramatic dialogue made it difficult to finish. I wanted to love it but it’s a movie that I don’t want to watch again unless I was just fast forwarding it through to the fight between Tang and Colt.
The acting in this one is split into two different groups. The first is the dialogue heavy scenes where the cast interacts with one another. The dialogue is flat and extremely heavy. It has no emotional connection for the viewer to hold onto and the cast has very little enthusiasm. We then move to the fight oriented scenes where the choreography is the key component of the scene. The fights are fantastic and the final showdown is something that truly is apart of movie history. Honestly, I feel like the distance between the cast and the camera is due to Lee taking over director responsibilities and is unable to pull decent performances from his cast.
The story for this one is obviously written and adapted to the screen by Lee himself. His since of comedic timing is all wrong and the jokes written into the script feel like they were written for a select niche group of viewers. They never find their mark and after all these decades later they almost feel cringy. Honestly, the film would have benefited to a more serious approach to the film instead of the comedic take.
Finally, don’t expect a bloody flick. It does have a a few drops of the red stuff but it’s not a bloody flick. Instead, it’s focused on the fight scenes which really hit the spot. Overall, The Way of the Dragon is an iconic film due to the showdown between martial arts titans Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris but the film itself is barely mediocre. Umbrella Entertainment’s release is solid for fans but if you are looking for something new to watch I would recommend something else.
Limited edition collector’s card of the original theatrical poster
Feature documentary: “Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks” (2019)
Interviews with Sammo Hung, Simon Yam, Paul Pui, Wong Jing, Flora Cheong, Clarence Fok & Rocky Lai
“Trailers from Hell” – Australian director Brian Trenchard-Smith on “The Way of the Dragon”
Trailers (Re-edit 4K, English & Mandarin)