Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
"If you're looking for a definitive history of Bruce Lee, look for one of the many documentaries or books about his life. If you simply want to spend a couple hours munching on Hot Cheetos and downing Cokes in front of the TV, you can't go wrong with Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story".
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)
Director: Rob Cohen
Producer: Raffaella De Laurentis
Writer: R. Cohen, J. Raffo, E. Khmara, Linda Lee
Cast: Jason Scott Lee, Lauren Holly, Robert Wagner, Michael Learned, Nancy Kwan
Running Time: 120 min.
Plot: Jason Scott Lee and Lauren Holly star in this unforgettable glimpse into the life, love and the unconquerable spirit of the legendary Bruce Lee. From a childhood 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 (Robert Wagner) and begins a meteoric rise to fame and an all-too-short reign as one of the most charismatic action heroes in motion picture history.
AMERICAN NINJA'S REVIEW: When you have a legend like Bruce Lee, you usually have movies like "Bruce Lee: The Man The Myth" that try to milk the legend to death, which was why it was failure. Nobody attempted to bring the legend's life to the big screen again, until "Dragon". Released in the 20 year mark from which he died (also around the tragic death of his son Brandon Lee).
The real problem is the script, which, offers no real rewards - it's irritating, everything is done in a predictable fashion and the story is too conservative. This film fails to deliver anything Bruce Lee fans want. Yeah, it delivers fights but we want more. Also, there is something rather disturbing when seeing the scene where Bruce Lee tries to protect his son (Brandon) from demons.
The whole story is grinded into corny melodrama. Not to say that Dragon doesn't have a decent moment or two, it does. Jason Scott Lee is impressive as Bruce Lee. "Dragon" is disappointing to say the least.
AMERICAN NINJA'S RATING: 5.5/10
ALEXANDER'S REVIEW: When "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story" arrived in theaters I was working as an usher at a small movie house in Northern California. To celebrate the film's release, the manager held a martial arts exhibition in the lobby. While I was definitely thrilled to be watching a shirtless white guy with a mullet do the splits while perched between two chairs Van Damme-like, I was also kinda pissed because I knew that for every stack of bricks and piles of 2X4s broken by some dude's heavliy calloused knuckles, I'd have to sweep up the debris. You see, being an usher is a thankless job that primarily involves tearing countless tickets in half, peeling gum and Dots off of the theater floor, and replacing those pink aromatic cakes at the bottom of urinals. The job was only made bearable by the free movies and the pilfered popcorn and nachos smothered in cheese and jalapenos. But I digress.
"Dragon" was met with both skepticism and anticipation upon release in the summer of 1993. The legions of Bruce Lee fans were rightfully leery that their hero's story might not be portrayed sufficiently nor accurately. Since Hollywood is notorious for sacrificing accuracy for entertainment, fans of Lee had every right to be apprehensive. Ultimately, "Dragon" was met with some derision by moviegoers and critics alike for taking too many liberties with the Bruce Lee legend. Despite this, "Dragon" is a fun and colorful film featuring an amazing performance by the grossly underused Jason Scott Lee (no relation to Bruce). The movie works well as mindless summer fun, a true "popcorn movie" if there ever was one.
While Jason Scott Lee looks little like the wiry, intense Bruce Lee, he still manages to exude the famed martial artist's charisma, chiseled physique, and energy. In fact, it's Lee's performance that keeps the film afloat when weighted down bya number of typical Hollywood embellishments. The film works best when incorporating details like Bruce's authorship of the groundbreaking "Tao of Jeet Kun Do"; his star-making role as Kato in "The Green Hornet" and the subsequent snubbing by the producers of "Kung Fu"; and the Hong Kong premier of the seminal martial arts movie, "The Big Boss". The film weakens considerably when tackling such oft debated myths like the supposed Lee family curse. The inclusion of a gigantic, lumbering demon that stalks Bruce Lee from childhood to adulthood is not only absurd, but insulting as well.
Yet "Dragon" is still immensely appealing and fun. The score is fantastic and Lauren Holly is commendable as Linda Lee. If you're looking for a definitive history of Bruce Lee, look for one of the many documentaries or books about his life. If you simply want to spend a couple hours munching on Hot Cheetos and downing Cokes in front of the TV, you can't go wrong with "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story".
ALEXANDER'S RATING: 8.5/10