The Way of the Dragon – Bruce Lee

Copyright to its original ownerAlthough I must have seen this movie tens of times every time I find it on TV I tend to watch at least a few scenes: last week was no different.

I have a great respect for Bruce Lee and what he managed to do during the few years of his intense career as martial artist first and then as an actor.  At the same time I have to say that I started noticing too many flaws in the plot, coreography and, actually, even in the fighting scenes of most of his movies.

As usual there are a few things that are generally contraddicting the whole story: the character played by Bruce Lee is sent to Rome where his cousins have a Chinese restaurant and they are having trouble with a local gang that, by the way, with all place in the Italian capital really need that restaurant to be the centre for an international drug traffic 🙂

Bruce is depicted as a Kung Fu champion, Chinese boxing as they define it many times: so the first question is why in one of the first fighting scenes against the gangsters he pulls out 2 nunchakus, a Japanese (Okinawan to be precise) weapon?

The whole movie has a very broken rithm (like Bruce Lee suggest to use when fighting) and it culminates in the final scene, the very famous one where Bruce Lee defeats Chuck Norris (the American Champion) in the Coliseum (see the clip below.

According to the movie “The Warrior Journey” Lee explains that this scene starts with him fighting Norris using traditional Kung Fu (I would be curious to know which style considering that Bruce Lee had a Wing Chun background with no high kicks while here most kicks are toward the face…) and is loosing.  So he changes strategy in the second part of the scene and using the basic principles of Jeet Kune Do he becomes adaptable (and kicking the legs) and manages to kill his opponent.  I mention this scene often as an example for a particular style of spinning back hook kick that Chuck Norris uses several times when I explain one of the common mistakes people can make when performing a hook kick.

I am going to conclude this by stating that for a Chinese production of 1972 this movie is great and there is no doubt that next time I will  find it on TV I’ll watch it again.  At the same time I fail to get as excited and inspired as I used to: perhaps I have seen live so many performances of good martial artist that Bruce Lee is no longer so special and unique?

I’ll let you judge what I am saying after you see the clip below:

2 thoughts on “The Way of the Dragon – Bruce Lee

  1. I think the more experience you gain in martial arts the more holes you see in their depiction in films and television. Years ago I remember watching Wesley Snipes in ‘Blade’ and thinking how good his techniques were. I saw it again recently and was laughing out loud at how bad his techniques are! In the same way, the first time you walk into a Dojo everyone looks like an expert but as you progress up the ranks the more other people look average…or worse!

  2. Bruce Lee said the fighting style he did in movies are just for the movies, he wouldn’t use them in a real fight. In movies it’s all for the show, not technique.

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