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Bruce Lee

Way of the Dragon

AKA: Return of the Dragon, Fury of the Dragon

1972

Director: Bruce Lee

Stars: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, Chuck Norris, Lam Ching-Ying

In his first movie where he had full control of the set, Bruce Lee stars as a HKer who comes to Italy to work at his family's restaurant and finds it being shaken down by the local gangsters. You can probably see what's coming next. After Lee holds back for a while, he begins to open a can of whoop ass on the gangsters, culminating in a climatic fight with an American-imported muscleman played by Chuck Norris.

This is a good movie that hasn't quite stood the test of time. The lousy fashions and low production values (and bad dubbing in the international versions) hurt it a bit. Similar plots have been used lots of times before and since, and it comes of as a bit cheesy. However, Lee shows a good understanding of editing and pacing that sets this movie apart from others of its kind. Some viewers might be disappointed that the film isn't wall-to-wall kung fu, but Lee's deliberate pacing makes the few fight scenes that are in here that much more powerful, especially the confrontation between Lee and Norris, which remains a classic in the genre. I also enjoyed the way Lee played a bit with his on-screen persona. This is one of the few instances where Lee used comedy (through himself) and it gives his character a nice bit of three-dimensionality. And I should point out that Nora Miao looks really good in this movie. Even with the bad '70's clothes and hair, she's still a major babe and brings a nice bit of eye candy to the film.

I'm probably preaching to the choir in this review -- I'm sure many of you have already seen this film, but if you haven't, you should check it out. Even though it doesn't get mentioned as much as Enter the Dragon or Fist of Fury, Way of the Dragon is still a rock-solid martial arts movie that's definitely worth a viewing.

RATING: 7.5

Reviews of various DVDs for this movie can be found here

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