If you only see one Bruce Lee film in your life see Way of the Dragon, not because it is Lee’s best film, but for two reasons:
1. Way of the Dragon is Bruce, he wrote, directed, choreographed, produced and starred in this film. His personality and charisma comes through like no other and we really get a glimpse of who Lee was as a person.
2. Chuck Norris
Following the success of Lee’s first two major film he had in a year earned the power to create his own film in his own image in every aspect. While not a professional filmmaker he could have fooled anyone watching as this is arguably as good as any work he produced in his short career.
The story takes Tang from his home in Hong Kong to Rome where his family has a restaurant that is under shakedown from the Mafia and he is sent to help. All is easy until he runs into the Mafia’s biggest henchman, Colt played by Norris. While the school scene in Fist of Fury is Lee’s most famous, the final confrontation with Colt is Lee’s greatest one-on-one moment. The talent of Lee and Norris make the scene not only Lee’s best, but also the most talent in one room in the history of Kung Fu films. Norris is not the only famous face from the Karate World, Robert Wall also makes his first appearance in a Lee film here also as a Mafia henchman. History has it the three were good friends and training partners.
Because Lee had such control Dragon is filled with comedy and character depth. The scenes in the restaurant are greatest acting moments in all of Lee’s films. And the scene on the fountain with the beautiful Italian beauty is far underrated as one of the best explanations of international etiquette. The funniest character in the film is hands down the eccentric and flamboyant Ho played by Wei Ping-Ao who had prominent roles in several of Lee’s films.
The one and only flaw in this film was the quality of the video and some of the shots. It seems to have not restored as well as some of the others, does it have to do with a smaller budget? Foreign products used from Italy? Damage and not stored as well all these years? Who knows but the picture is not as sharp as Fist of Fury and looks even less quality the old film of Big Boss. Maybe with Lee’s control he did not spend as much on the quality of film, or bought what he thought was a better quality of film. Also at times especially on location shots the focus of the shot is off.
A top notch film as were all of Lee’s completed works, but the one film he had total control over that actually made it to the theaters in his vision.