The Way of the Dragon, also known as Return of the Dragon, is a 1972 Hong Kong martial arts action-comedy starring Bruce Lee, who after the success of his first film, The Big Boss, was given greater creative control; writing, producing and directing this film.
Set in Rome, where oddly enough everyone speaks English, Lee plays Tang Lung who comes to the Italian capital to help his cousins who are being forced to sell their restaurant to a gang of thugs (the Syndicate) who will stop at nothing to get what they want. However, Tang might first appear to be a simpleton from the new territories in Hong Kong, but he “practices martial arts every day!”. Unable to defeat Lee’s character, the Syndicate boss hires the best Japanese and European martial artists to fight Tang, but he easily finishes them off. The film culminates with the American martial artist Colt, portrayed by Chuck Norris, taking on the rising martial arts star in an ultimate gladiatorial showdown in Rome's famous Colosseum.
The fight action is better than anything you'll see in the UFC or WWE, but the fight scenes have a far deeper meaning than simple minded violence for entrainment. Lee uses the film to demonstrate to the world his Jeet Kune Do philosophy. In the documentaries and interviews that accompany this Blu-ray (and other recent Lee-centric releases), it is explained how Lee came to believe that fighting styles had become too rigid and unrealistic, even calling karate tournaments of the time “dry swimming”. The martial artists believed that fighting was spontaneous and impossible to predict, and that styles didn't work in real fights. In the film this is shown by his opponents using a particular fighting style (karate) and being easily defeated by Lee who, “like water”, changes his technique to deal with them.
Jeet Kune Do was Lee's fighting philosophy (not a style) but it was also his life philosophy, which continues to resonate to his fans today more than forty years after his untimely death at the age of 32, shortly after his first English language film Enter the Dragon had turned him into a genuine Hollywood star.
THE WAY OF THE DRAGON / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: BRUCE LEE / STARRING: BRUCE LEE, CHUCK NORRIS, NORA MIAO, PAUL WEI PING-AO, ROBERT WALL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW