Dragon - The Bruce Lee Story (DVD)

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Dragon - The Bruce Lee Story (DVD)

The very entertaining true life story of the martial arts sensation whose meteoric rise to fame ended suddenly with his untimely, mysterious death.

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Review of "Dragon - The Bruce Lee Story (DVD)"

published 15/04/2006 | christianfilmcritic
Member since : 21/01/2006
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Pro Jason Scott Lee, very entertaining
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"The life of the dragon"

Jason Scott Lee as Bruce Lee

Jason Scott Lee as Bruce Lee

It was only a matter of time before the life of legendary martial arts expert Bruce Lee, was given the Hollywood treatment. So it came as no surprise when in 1993, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story hit the big screens, spookily being released just a few months after the mysterious death of Bruce's son, Brandon Lee. It is testament to the popularity of Bruce Lee that in its opening weekend in the USA, Dragon nearly recuperated the entire $14,000,000 budget that was spent on the production.

Dragon is based on the autobiography "The Man Only I Knew" written by Bruce's wife, Linda Lee Cadwell and follows the story of Bruce from his early days in 60s China, where his Father wanted him to go to America to get a better chance in life. After a dispute with some sailors and the local Hong Kong police, he gets his wishes and sends his teenage son to America to pursue his dreams of being a famous movie star.

Initially forced to work as a pot washer in a Chinese restaurant, he gets a chance at an education in an American college, where he meets and falls in love with local girl Linda. Unsurprisingly, their mixed relationship is met with opposition, none more than from her own mother who disowns her. Never the less, Bruce and Linda's love survives and after getting married, Bruce sets up the first of his famous martial arts schools, where he would teach anyone who wanted to learn.

Unfortunately his willingness to teach anyone, no matter the colour of their skin, brought the wrath of the local Chinese hierarchy down on him and after being forced into a fight to earn the right to teach, he suffered a horrific injury which not only threatened his career but also his life with Linda. Wallowing in self pity, as he lay in a full body cast for several weeks, Linda stood by him and forced him into writing his book on martial arts which would end up being the foundation of many new forms of martial arts.

After the birth of his son, Brandon, he got his initial big break as he received a supporting role as Kato on the Green Hornet. His fighting and acting ability shone through as his popularity rose, but after the series failed to gain a further series he is dealt a nasty blow. An idea for a new series which he planned to star in, was unscrupulously handed to actor Keith Carradine who went onto fame as Caine in "Kung Fu".

With a second child on the way, Bruce was forced to return to China following the death of his father. Whilst there, he received another chance of fame, as he makes his appearance on the big screen in a low budget Chinese martial arts movie. More Chinese movies follow and soon he was being courted by Hollywood to appear in a Chinese-American martial arts movie, "Enter the Dragon".


In reality, Dragon is in my opinion, one of the most gripping biopic movies I have come across. This is not because it is factually correct, as to be honest I am not a big enough Bruce Lee aficionado to tell you how much of the movie is fact and how much is fiction. What I do know is that the story works as not only being informative but more importantly entertaining for both Bruce Lee fans and non fans a like. The storyline itself works as a very enthralling drama, as you watch the rise and fall of the lead character as he deals with love, illness, racism and disappointment, as he battles with his own demons. It is down to the fact that each of these elements are equally balanced and not overly dwelt upon, that helps to make this film more entertaining than just a look at Bruce Lee's life.

Of course, you could not have a movie about a martial arts legend, without karate kicking fight scenes to demonstrate what made him the legend that he was. I was actually surprised by not only the quality of these scenes but also the quantity of them. I had half expected to not enjoy this movie, as I feared it would be one fight sequence after another with no real story, but the fight scenes, although numerous, are used only to demonstrate what made Bruce a legend and work in unison with the story. The quality of these fight sequences are truly reminiscent of Bruce Lee in many of his films such as Enter the Dragon and Fist of Fury. Not only have they been choreographed in the same manner that Bruce fought, but the sound effects used are identical to those used in Bruce's early martial arts movies.

A lot of praise should be steeped upon Jason Scott Lee, whose portrayal of Bruce Lee is absolutely dazzling, both for filling the screen with Bruce's natural exuberance for life, but also for being able to effectively mimic Bruce as a fighter. Amazingly, Jason Scott Lee had no martial arts experience prior to this movie, and was picked not only for his resemblance to Bruce, but also because as an accomplished dancer, the films casting directors believed he would be able to mimic Bruce's cat like nature more easily. Opposite Scott Lee is Lauren Holly as Linda, his wife and the mother of his two children. Surprisingly, not only does the character of Linda feature nearly as prominently as that of Bruce himself, but the performance from Lauren Holly was easily a match for that of Scott Lee's. On top of these two great performances, you have Robert Wagner putting in a performance as the TV/Movie Producer, Bill Krieger, who discovered Bruce Lee and cast him in "The Green Hornet". Although his character is not a prominent figure in the movie, Wagner's performance is as always reliable, and demonstrates that in a career that is now in its sixth decade, he can still provide the goods.

What surprised me the most about Dragon, was that although I enjoy the occasional martial arts movie, there is a lot more to the film which will appeal to a much wider audience than just martial arts fans. The fact, that you could watch this film, with out even knowing who Bruce Lee was and still feel entertained when the film is over, is a testament to everyone who worked on the film, especially the work of director Rob Cohen. I suppose for anyone who is a Bruce Lee enthusiast, will feel cheated as the film does not attempt to examine any part of his life in any serious depth, but rather to demonstrate to the world who Bruce Lee was in an entertaining manner.

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Cast and Crew
============

Director: Rob Cohen
Producer: Raffaella De Laurentiis

Jason Scott Lee ---- Bruce Lee
Lauren Holly ---- Linda Lee
Robert Wagner ---- Bill Krieger
Michael Learned ---- Vivian Emery
Nancy Kwan ---- Gussie Yang
Kay Tong Lim ---- Philip Tan
Ric Young ---- Bruce's Father


Technical Details
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Year of Release: 1993
Duration: 119 mins
Certificate: 15
Genre: Biopic, Drama, Action


Price & Availability
===============

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story is available on DVD, region 2 format at the following online stores:

Amazon.co.uk ---- £6.97
Bensonsworld.co.uk ---- £6.99
Choicesdirect.com ----£6.67
Play.com ---- £5.99

© ChristianFilmCritic April 2006


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Comments on this review

  • tekin21 published 23/04/2006
    My husband loves martial arts films, especially Bruce Lee – me? not a fan at all. Jane x
  • jesi published 22/04/2006
    you've stopped putting in your trademark "christian message section" have you? ~ ~ .................................................................................................... ~ ♥ ~ jes ~ ♥♥
  • Danielle89 published 16/04/2006
    Not something I would watch but if I was looking to watch a film in this genre, then this would have made the shortlist thanks to your review! - Danielle x
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The very entertaining true life story of the martial arts sensation whose meteoric rise to fame ended suddenly with his untimely, mysterious death.

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