Way of the Dragon, The (1972)

Reviewed by Ken Hashibe
January 2, 2015

 

MOVIE INFO
CAST
Bruce Lee • Nora Miao • Wei Pin-Ao • Wong Chung-Shun • Lau Wing • Little Unicorn • Chuck Norris • Robert Wall
Aka
Return of the Dragon
DIRECTOR
Bruce Lee
CHOREOGRAPHER(S)
Bruce Lee • Little Unicorn
YEAR RELEASED
1972
MOVIE SOURCE
Version reviewed was in widescreen format. English dubbed.
Purchase & Info
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PlOT
Tang Lung (Bruce Lee) is a Hong Kong resident who travels to Rome to help defend his family’s restaurant from a dangerous gang. This gang, of course, isn’t dangerous to Tang Lung who proceeds to fight them all off without breaking a sweat. At first it seems like this family has a bright future ahead of them, but things take a turn for the worse when the gang calls in three powerful martial artists to take care of Tang Lung. Will Tang Lung be able to fight off these vicious opponents? I’ll give you a hint: This is a Bruce Lee movie.
thoughts on the movie

Besides a below-basic story, this movie is an above-average kung fu film thanks to its star, Bruce Lee. Strangely enough, out of all of his movies, this one has aged the most and is sometimes very dumb. Despite that, this movie features some outstanding fight scenes and some surprisingly funny comedy. The movie mainly succeeds because of Bruce Lee who demonstrates his undeniably extraordinary physical prowess and charismatic performance (which isn’t new for him). This film was also unique for its time, not only for its location, but also because of its creative mix of comedy and kung fu. Definitely a classic, if only for the action, comedy, and my abnormal bias for Bruce Lee. Nothing groundbreaking but far from bad.

was it funny?
Yes. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was a comedy, a very funny one too. Usually, kung fu comedies don’t impress me with their humor, but this was better than I had expected. In between the intense awesome-ness of Bruce Lee, he can pull off physical humor in the fight scenes very well. The overly confident villains are sometimes funny too, but a lot of the laughs come from the situations that Bruce gets into as a foreigner unfamiliar with local customs. It’s refreshing to see Bruce play a slightly ignorant character, but this movie reverts to a mostly serious tone towards the end. There aren’t a whole lot of funny lines in the English dub, but the fashion in this movie is sometimes outrageous.
How was the Action?

The great thing about the action in this movie is that the filmmakers held off on showing what our main character can do until about 30 minutes in. Throughout the first third of the movie, we’re only learning about the characters’ personalities, motives, and problems. So when there finally is action, we’re more emotionally drawn in, which is very clever. We know that the action’s going to happen soon, and it’s like waiting for a bomb to go off. And when it does, we get some fantastic fight scenes. When Bruce first opens up a can of whoop-ass, every hit has power and it’s very exciting. There are also some comedic fights towards the middle that lead up to our climatic battle between Bruce and Chuck Norris in the Roman Colliseum.

Standout performance(s)

This section has been left empty by the reviewer because he felt that writing it would be pointless. We hope we didn’t disappoint you, but…c’mon…who do you think had a standout performance in this movie?

Watch or Pass
6 Reasons Why You Should WATCH or PASS On This Movie
1. WATCH if you like comedy with your fu.
2. PASS if you’re looking for a serious action movie.
3. WATCH for Bruce Lee in a more comedic role.
4. PASS if you like intimidating villains (you only get one).
5. WATCH for an easy-to-follow story.
6. WATCH for Bruce Lee’s incredible fighting prowess.
FINAL NOTES

This is the first review of a Bruce Lee movie on this website. Now all we need is a shirt.

RATING