Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Way of the Dragon

Meng long guo jiang; Action, China, 1972; D: Bruce Lee, S: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, Robert Wall, Ing Sik Whang, Chuck Norris

Sympathetic Chen Ching-Hua opened a Chinese restaurant with her friends in Rome and immediately became a target of an evil mafia boss who wants to chase her away so he can have the building all for himself. But Chen has an uncle in Hong Kong who sends her his friend Tang Lung to help her out. Arriving in Rome, Tang gets a little bit lost, but Chen finds him and gives him custody in her apartment. Tang quickly displays his kung fu skills when he beats every mafia criminal who was chasing the guests away from the restaurant. As an answer, the mafia hires American fighting champion Colt, but Tang beats and kills him. The mafia boss gets arrested by the police so Tang returns home.

People unfamiliar with works of the famous Bruce Lee will notice that some of his movies, and that includes his "Way of the Dragon" which was directed by him, are rather overrated. As a simple display of martial-arts fights, "Dragon" serves it's purpose, but as an artistic film it's rather thin. A total of 8 fighting sequences in the course of the entire film offer only a simple and raw action without imagination, thus one shouldn't expect miracles like in the Jackie Chan's movies or in lets say the hailed "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". Even more stiff are the characters and profane dialogues, while it's interesting that this Hong Kong film was actually filmed on Italian territory, despite the fact that the crew was almost entirely Chinese. There are many absurd scenes present, like the one when an unknown woman escorts Lee into her apartment and starts taking her clothes off until he runs away, but some of them are deliberately humorous, like the cute moment where Lee arrived in Rome and accidentally ordered 4 different kinds of soups because he doesn't speak Italian, and fans of martial arts will for sure enjoy the story and the finale where the action star Chuck Norris shows up - albeit 70 minutes into the film - and starts a vicious fight with the hero. Evidently, it's one of the few good films Norris ever appeared in. But the real jewel is actually something completely else, the cute, irresistibly charming actress Nora Miao as the main heroine Chen, a damsel in distress who secretly "flirts" with Lee, displaying great talent before she unfortunately abandoned her career as an actress in the '80s.



J Luis Rivera said...

I adore this movie. I know it's flawed, but I see it as a spaghetti Western with kicks instead of guns

Marin Mandir said...

"Spaghetti Western with kicks". You know, that's a great description. I like it.

I liked the film. It's cheesy, but it's also easily enjoyable. Who knows what kind of other movies Bruce Lee could have made hadn't he died so young.