Movie Review – Way of the Dragon (1972)

I love it when I can watch movies related to a project I’m working on and call it research.

Bruce Lee’s signature film, a super hairy Chuck Norris and a whole helluva lot of kung fu.

BQB here with a review of Way of the Dragon.

I have to be honest.  This film is considered to be the quintessential martial arts film but when I look through it via a modern frame of mind then…well, yeah, it kind of stinks.

It’s basically one step above being a high school AV club project.  The plot is goofy.  In Rome, a  mafia don wants a restaurant owned by Uncle Wang and, I guess his relative of some sort, maybe his daughter or some shit I don’t know because it’s hard to understand, so what the hell, we’ll just call her his daughter, Chen Ching Hua (Nora Miao).

Chen’s other uncle from Hong Kong sends a friend, Tang Lung (Bruce Lee), to Rome to help protect the restaurant and beat up some motherfuckers with his kung fu skills.

Throughout the film, there are cheesy jokes aplenty.  For example, Tang Lung arrives at the airport and an old lady stares at him, unsure what to make of him.  He then orders soup at an airport restaurant but his elderly waitress is confused as to what he wants.  He points to soup on the menu a bunch of times, so she brings him like twenty bowls of soup.

Being a gentlemen, Tang Lung eats it all and then throughout the first part of the film it becomes a running joke that he needs to keep asking for a bathroom because he has the soupy shits.

Meanwhile, the don’s top henchman is a flamboyantly gay, scarf clad stereotype, so outlandish in fact that I’d love to get Ken Jeong on the phone just to ask if he based Mr. Chow in The Hangover films on this character.

Blah, blah, blah, there are a lot of jokes, a lot of fights, a lot of squabbling over what is going to happen to the restaurant and then, wham!  There’s the big finish in which the don hires American martial artist Colt (aka Chuck Fucking Norris) to take down Tang Lung, because apparently, he really wants that fucking restaurant.

Add to the list of the movie’s plot holes a lack of an explanation as to why this restaurant is so important.  The don goes through like nine-hundred henchmen just to get his hands on this joint.  Is gold buried under the floor boards?  Is it prime real estate that can be sold at a high markup?  What the hell is going on here?  Oh well.  Nobody knows.

And I also digress.  This film was Chuck Norris’ big screen debut and holy shit, was he a sight to behold in his youthful, pre-mustache glory.  The man had a bear-like mange of chest hair, so luxurious that Bruce tears a hunk out of it during the final fight scene.

The man’s back was even hairy.  That shit just wouldn’t fly today.  If you want to be on screen then you have to be waxed, but they didn’t care about that shit in the 1970s.  Hell, hairiness was a sign of virility.  The hairier you were, the more poon you got and let me tell you, by the look of his back, young Chuck Norris was swimming in strange.

Can you believe I once had a girlfriend who complained about my hairy back?  Shit.  I bet young Chuck Norris didn’t have to put up with uppity broads trying to rub Nair all over his shoulder blades.

I have digressed again.  Look, the film is on Netflix so you should check it out.  Don’t shit on the film as I have but rather, keep in mind that it was a 1970s flick, made at a time when martial arts films were just getting started.  Ignore the cheesiness, the silly jokes, and the terrible English voiceover dubbing.

The final fight scene is intense.  Bruce and Chuck never speak to each other but it is clear they are both professionals.  They silently taunt one another but they also fight with honor and respect.

Come for the movie.  Stay until the end for the epic final showdown between Bruce and Chuck, two titans in all of their glory.  Sadly, the world lost Bruce way, way too young, but at least Chuck stuck around long enough to grow a sweet mustache, appear in a shit ton of B movies and become an Internet meme.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Invent a time machine and bring me back to the 1970s, a time when men were men and the only limit to the amount of chicks they could bag was measured by the amount of bear-like fur on their manly chests and backs.

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