This film is a glimpse into the life, love and the unconquerable spirit of the legendary Bruce Lee. From a childhod of rigorous martial arts training, Lee realizes his dream of opening his own kung-fu school in America. Before long, he is discovered by a Hollywood producer and begins a meteroric rise to fame and an all too short reign as one the most charasmatic action heroes in cinema history.
A celebration of the inimitable Bruce Lee and what he represented
RELEASED IN 1993 and directed by Rob Cohen, " Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story" stars Jason Scott Lee as the martial arts superstar, tracing his early life in Hong Kong to his fresh start in the San Francisco area where he starts a martial arts school, meets his babe (Lauren Holly) and moves on to TV and Film. He must boldly face many enemies along the way, including his childhood demon.
This is basically a rags-to-riches flick and ranks with my favorite films due to its excellent meshing of dynamism, fun and potent drama. I haven’t seen too many martial arts flicks, but “Dragon” is easily the all-around best of those I’ve seen. It mixes real-life with Hollywood mythmaking, which is what many cinematic biographies do, e.g. "Buffalo Bill" (1944) and "Braveheart" (1995). In these types of movies the gist of the story is true, but it's mixed with numerous fictional or even fantastical elements to make the protagonist a larger-than-life hero, but also to entertain the audience because real-life is always more mundane and therefore dull. And movies are made primarily to make money through entertaining, not to relay the truth in exact detail.
Right from the get-go the film telegraphs that it's a mythmaking account when Bruce takes on the arrogant British sailors at a dance. He throws one of them and the sailor topples 3-4 other men accompanied by the sound of a bowling ball striking pins (lol). While this particular episode never happened, occasions LIKE IT did, even if it was to someone other than Bruce. The same is true with other sequences, like the fight in the gym, which never happened. But, again, events LIKE IT have.
The movie is really meant as a celebration of Bruce Lee, his phenomenal expertise in martial arts and the genre he made popular. If you're looking for an actual biography of his life check out the two biographies listed below (under “WRITERS”).
Speaking of which, “Dragon” was partially based on the autobiography of Linda Lee Cadwell (Bruce’s wife). Someone offered that she couldn’t possibly have been happy with the film since so much of it is fiction (for instance, Bruce didn’t injure his back as depicted, but via lifting weights). Actually, she was happy with the final picture. But why did she allow so many things to be embellished? Simple: Because the embellishing fed into the Bruce Lee legend from which she benefits.
In any case, there are a lot of martial arts thrills mixed with the drama with an exciting action scene occurring roughly every ten minutes. The film gives the protagonist & a few others power over time and space. Of course, one cannot do in real life many of the things these characters perform due to the restrictions imposed by Newton's Laws but, hey, it’s entertaining. This factor explains why “Dragon” has been criticized for springing from one thing to the next too quickly, never pausing long enough for any strong emotion to resonate or for us to feel we really know the man beyond his proverbs. I disagree; I sensed strong emotion on several occasions, like when Bruce exclaims to Linda: “You make be believe I can do anything” or when he wildly screams at her to leave his hospital room, not to mention his outstanding meltdown later in Hong Kong (I’ve had a few of those in my life, so I know).
Speaking of Linda, Lauren Holly is just mind-blowing in her physical prime.
THE MOVIE RUNS 2 hours and was shot in California (San Francisco, Los Angeles & Valencia), China (Macau) and Hong Kong. WRITERS: Three screenwriters wrote the script based on the biographies by Linda Lee Cadwell (Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew) and Robert Clouse (Bruce Lee: The Biography).
Raffaella De Laurentiis Productions, Universal Pictures by Rob Cohen, Robert Clouse, Linda Lee Cadwell, Edward Khmara, John Raffo.
Stars: Jason Scott Lee, Lauren Holly, Robert Wagner, Michael Learned.
Genres: Action, Biography, Drama, Romance
Keywords: life and death martial arts training biography bruce lee
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