Thursday, January 5, 2017

Bruce Lee Stardom: The Way of the Dragon

Hiya gang and welcome back for Day 3 of Bruce Lee Stardom. You know, regardless what you may think about, feel opinionated on or just outright dislike, you have to admire vision. Take this movie for example: Where else are you going to find Chinese Boxing, Karate and a massive all out match in the Roman Colosseum? That's right, a flurry of kicks, punches and punishment in Rome of all places. Sounds crazy? To me, it was ambition to bring a series of people together from multiple nations so they could all watch this film. This is The Way of the Dragon a.k.a. Return of the Dragon.

Come over here and show us on the doll where they touched you.

Once again Bruce is playing a decent egg by the name of Tang Lung. Who has traveled to Italy, sent by his uncle to assist a family friend "Uncle" Wang (Chung-Hsin Huang of The One-Armed Swordsmen, The 14 Amazons, The Chinese Connection, Chinese Hercules, Dragons of Death, The Mandarian Magician and The Eternal Obsession) as his restaurant is being harassed. He is informed that the Mafia wants the restaurant for God knows what. Maybe launder money. Maybe they love egg drop soup. Who can say? At first not everyone is on board having Tang here to help until they see him beat the crap out of some of the gangsters. After they witness this otherwise amiable fella kick ass and take names they are all with him.

Not sure about this Village People tribute band.

What is so unusual about this role is Tang is a fish out of water if you will, a stranger in a strange land trying his best to get along with others but once again life finds a way to ruin anyone's plans and good times. Annoyed how his men have lost to Tang, da boss (No not Springsteen) acquired two bad ass martial artists to deal with Tang and they will fix his little red wagon. Probably paint it and oil the wheels too. Sadly the real life hapkido grandmaster Ing-Sik Whang (The Way of the Dragon, Hapkido, Bruce Lee and I, The Skyhawk. Stoner, Hwangbi, The Association, Black Leopard and Tomb for a Strongman) is only known as Japanese Fighter. His fellow fighter, 8th degree black belt of American Tang Soo Do Robert Wall (Robert Wall of The Way of the Dragon, Enter the Dragon, Black Belt Jones, Game of Death, Enter the Ninja, Code of Silence, Invasion U.S.A., Firewalker, Hero and the Terror and Walker, Texas Ranger) is known as...Bob. Meh, no biggie. Once again Nora Miao (of The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, The Devil's Treasure, Tokyo-Seoul-Bangkok and Naughty! Naughty!) appears. She and Bruce have great chemistry together whether she plays the love interest or could be playing a sister or cousin.

Bruce Lee pimp slap of DOooOoOoOOmm!!!!

Both men find that Tang is insanely fast, disciplined and hard to get a hold of.   Da Boss feels he has no other choice then to call in for reinforcements. Spending a small fortune to get him there in time, he calls in the merciless Colt (Chuck Norris of The Octagon, An Eye for an Eye, Silent Rage, Lone Wolf McQuade, The Delta Force, Firewalker, The Hitman, Walker, Texas Ranger and The Expendables 2) to dispatch his pain in his ass. Has Tang met his match? Will Colt stomp a mudhole in Tang? Will Colt make Tang part of his complete breakfast?

The billing Return of the Dragon was U.S. distribution's way to cash in on the success of Enter the Dragon as a sequel and was Bruce Lee's directorial debut as well. Apparently Bruce was insistent that Chuck bulk up to look more menacing. Now because of the dubbing, the dialogue in this film is a bit painful. Get the sub-tilted version instead and you will enjoy the story more. I was told that Bruce Lee couldn't act his way out of a paper bag and then I remember his shady strong arm character from Marlowe.  While unfortunately named Winslow Wong, he came off smooth, a bit arrogant and drunk with his own strength and power. A complete 180 from the actual man and I was hoping it was a larger part but then I remember reading, "The Little Sister" and what happened to the gunsel so alas. That being said, even playing Kato he stood out.

Is this a brilliant film? No. Is this a film about heart, family and the willingness to stand up for what you believe to be true and honest? Yes very much so. Frankly folks, the fight scenes between Chuck and Bruce will blow your minds. If you don't care for the story at all, at least see this awesome smack down.

Gonna pinch you so good!