Way Of the Dragon/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Still in 1972 and hot on the heels of Fist of Fury, Bruce Lee, having founded his own production company Concord Productions with Raymond Chow, released The Way Of The Dragon. The movie, set to be Lee's third consecutive film to break the Hong Kong box-office, tells the story of Tang Lung (Bruce Lee) who is sent to Rome from Hong Kong to help out his friends niece Chen Ching Hua (played by the still foxy Nora Miao).
The basic premise is that Chen Ching Hua is having a little problem with the local mob who want to take over her restaurant by any means necessary means and Tang Lung is there to make sure that this doesn't happen. That's right folks, Bruce Lee takes on the fucking Mafia!!! And take them on he does. But first we're introduced to Bruce Lee, comedian. Lee is let loose to play the fool as he sees fit and he does it with such a natural ability and zest that you can see where Jackie Chan might have gotten some of his ideas. That is in no way meant as a slight to Chan, who I'm a huge fan of, but some of the scenes in Way Of The Dragon are such an obvious influence on the King Of Kung-Fu Comedy that it would be pointless to deny it. The opening scenes of Lee in the airport scaring the young boy, then messing up the order in the cafe before behaving like a complete douche around Chen Ching Hua has Chan's name written all over them. Not to mention the skit where he accidently goes home with a hooker. Sure, Jackie took the ball and ran with it to great effect but there wouldn't have been a ball to play with without Bruce Lee. But I digress.
Tang Lung's first run in with the mob comes at the restaurant where, tired of waiting for Chen Ching Hua to agree to their offer, they send over a bunch of low level thugs to put the frighteners on her. Unfortunately Tang Lung is in the toilet during their visit and only reappears after the bad guys have said they will return that night. When they do show up again they quickly wish they hadn't, as after they go outside (don't want to break anything now do we) and punch a waiter, Tang Lung proceeds to kick the shite out of them. In need of revenge (REVENGE!!!) the mob sends a gun-toting killer to bump off Tang Lung at Chen Ching Hua's apartment. Deciding that he doesn't want to be killed, Tang Lung swiftly disarms him with a wooden dart before knocking him to the floor and jumping up and down on him. This makes the mob boss volcanically pissed, so he shows up at the restaurant with a bunch of armed thugs to force them to sign the contract, which leads to THAT fight.
After a nice afternoon sight seeing around Rome with Chen Ching Hua, they return to the restaurant to find the mob waiting. A gun to his back and being taken outside to be executed it looks pretty bleak for our lad Tang Lung until he suddenly remembers "Oh yeah, I'm Bruce Lee!" and introduces the villains to a world of hurt. First with a wooden pole and then with the nunchukus this scene is memorable for many things, not least of all being that it's the only time a guy can get away with wearing a wife beater vest and look cool doing so. After failing to kill him yet again, even after giving the original gunman a sniper rifle to finish the job, they decide it's time to hire some outside help which comes in the form of mercenary martial artists. Tang Lung beats the first two attackers as if they were red headed step children until only one man is left. Chuck Norris. So we can end the argument right here, no more of these "Chuck Norris is so blah, blah, blah" on the interweb please because as we see at the end of Way Of The Dragon, no matter how hard you claim he is Bruce Lee kills his ass.
Chasing the Mafia bosses second in command outside Tang Lung finds the rest of his friends dead, having been bumped off by the chef who was promised mucho dinero, only for the boss to show up and decide to rub everyone out. His second in command gets it as does the chef but, stupidly, he misses Tang Lung. But alas, no death for Mister Mafia as the police show up just in time to arrest him, therefore saving him from the royal ass whupping he deserved.
This was Bruce Lee's only completed film as a director before his untimely demise and that is probably one of the saddest things about the whole situation,that we never got to see his version of Game Of Death. It also happens to be my favorite of his 4 movies. Funny and action packed it is the perfect snap shot of a man on the verge of global stardom, something that his follow up film Enter The Dragon propelled him towards. Unfortunatley for us and the rest of the world Bruce wouldn't live to see it.
On a personal note, if you hadn't guessed by now, Bruce Lee is my hero. Along with the usual posters, movies, documentaries, t-shirts and books to be owned, I wear a tattoo of him with pride on my right arm, as a reminder that anything can be achieved. Hell, even two of my girlfriends guinea pigs are called Bruce and Lee. Everything he did and everything he stood for still echoes throughout the world and has influenced men and woman far greater than me and though his death was tragic, his life shone bright enough that he will be remembered long after we are all gone.
So I raise a toast on this, the 39th anniversary of Bruce Lee's passing, not to mourn our loss but to celebrate the fact we were lucky enough to have him pass our way.
To Lee Yun-Fan: this one's for you.