Return of the Dragon (The Way of the Dragon) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Return of the Dragon (The Way of the Dragon) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 8, 2014
This is probably Bruce Lee's best known, and most beloved film, which he directed, starred in, and dubbed. While the plot isn't especially new, and the humor is so amazingly corny, the action more than makes up for it. The film is set in Rome, which warrants many great sights, and an interesting setting. Lee's character helps saves a tiny restaurant from the clutches of the mafia, and they retaliate against him by calling Chuck Norris from America to come fight him. The fight between Lee and Norris has got to be one of the best onscreen, in film history. Each choreographs very interesting moves, there's a savagery to their vendetta, and it underlines the clear skill of both fighters. If there's any Bruce Lee film that you need to see, it's this very fast paced, and very badly dubbed adventure.
Super Reviewer
August 8, 2012
Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris. Even today the world's not ready for the epic-ness of this film.
Super Reviewer
½ January 25, 2007
great kung fu choreography all the way through, excellent characters, creative setting, good fusion of humor, and a solid story. the one thing hurting this film is a breakdown of the logic of the villains in the final act that is too obvious to be believable, but overall this is one of my favorite bruce lee films.
Super Reviewer
½ May 7, 2010
First of all, Return of the Dragon (or Way of the Dragon, depending on where you live) is wacky. Extremely wacky. Yes, it's one of Bruce Lee's trademark action movies and you get to see him go toe to toe with a ton of bad guys, but there's a lot of both intentional and unintentional humor. Obvious setups like Bruce fearfully fleeing from a gorgeous and aggressive topless woman are followed by the absurdity of Bruce beating bad guy after bad guy so easily that you wonder why they bother to fight him at all. He honestly doesn't get hit until his final battle, and then he's in trouble for all of 12 seconds before he's contemptuously dominating again. And the beyond awful dubbing of the voices is funnier on its own than half the comedies that are released today.

The story concerns Bruce coming to Rome to help out a woman who's restaurant is being threatened by some kind of absurdly diverse mob. There's a pretty Chinese girl for him to rescue, a bunch of comic relief fighters to keep the bad guys busy until Bruce is ready to smack 'em around, and a hilariously offensive Asian stereotype running things as the number two for the "sinister" bad guy.

There's not much serious about Return of the Dragon, so I wouldn't put it on par with Enter the Dragon (which is a classic, in my opinion). But, the fights are fun and there's nothing wrong with seeing a martial arts movie that tries to make you laugh, every once in a while. Check it out if you're a fan of Lee or older movies of this kind.
Super Reviewer
October 15, 2009
The Way Of The Dragon had the potential to be Bruce's best film in my opinion but was bogged down by the dubbing and acting. But it still stands solid as one great Bruce Lee film and boasts the greatest fight scene ever in my opinion. Bruce plays Tang Lung who travels to Rome to help his family battle local gangsters who are trying to take over their resturaunt. Bruce almost plays a Charlie Chaplin type role here which would later be more fitting to Jackie Chan's slapstick style. Much like the Big Boss the first Bruce fight scene is way into the film but in my opinion this good because it creates a good build up, the nunchuka scene is second only to the one in Fist Of Fury or the uncut Game Of Death. The fight scene in the Roman Colliseum deserves the credit it gets because of one simple reason, its a simple fight, there are no gimmicks, sure its set in the colliseum and the fight is supposed to reflect two roman gladiators but there are no weapons and no sweet talk. It truly has epic scale. The thing that also makes this fight scene work is the end when Tang Lung out of respect covers Colt with his Karate jacket. There may have been better fights since on screen and I havn't seen many Hong Kong films with Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen etc but this is the first great one on one fight, therefore it set the standard.

There will indeed never be another Bruce Lee. I find it fascinating to imagine what Bruce would have done if he had lived, the 80's and 90's would have been very different if Arnie, Stallone, Wiilis, Seagal and Van Damme had Bruce to compete with, Bruce is sometimes critcised for being a bad actor, but i disagree, if anyone has seen his episodes of `Longstreet' or `Marlowe' they will see that Bruce could convincingly carry a dramatic scene given the right script and no dubbing and he oozed charisma, and he showed glimpses of good acting in Enter The Dragon.

Being a Bruce fan i kind of wish that Jet Li would do the films that bruce did or was planning on doing, Jet's early work in Honk Kong like the Shaolin Temple or more recent stuff like Fist Of Legend(remake of Fist Of Fury) and Once Upon A Time In China was very promising and it seemed he was the successor to Bruce but instead now he's doing crap in Hollywood with DMX and Jason Statham. Strangely the mediocre Lethal Weapon 4 is Jet's best Hollywood film, Maybe Jet should do a project with John Woo, it would be interesting and they'd probably get the best out of each other.
Super Reviewer
July 4, 2007
The United States and the world would discover Martial Arts actor Bruce Lee until 1973 with the release of his first (and only) Hollywood film, "Enter the Dragon", a masterpiece of the Martial Arts genre and arguably the film that started the trend of Kung-Fu films. However, before making "Enter the Dragon", Lee had already participated in three major films in Hong Kong, two of them under the direction of Wei Lo and the third the only film of his where he had complete control under everything, "Meng Long Guojian", the "Way of the Dragon". Better known as "Return of the Dragon" in the U.S. (where it was released as a sequel to "Enter the Dragon"), "Meng Long Guojiang" was Lee's first film as a director, and like his following two final films, a movie where he was able to express not only his physical abilities, but also the philosophy he developed to achieve them.

In "Way of the Dragon", Bruce Lee plays Tang Lung, a young man from Hong Kong who is sent to Rome by his uncle in order to help a family friend, "Uncle" Wang (Chung-Hsin Huang). At his arrival, he is informed that the problem is that the Italian Mafia wants the family's restaurant, and uses violent intimidation to pressure the owner. While at first not everyone is convinced that Tang Lung would be of any help (as he is not used to the city), soon they discover that Tang is in fact a talented Martial Artist. With Tang Lung's help, the Restaurant's waiters manage to defend themselves from the gangsters, but the Mafia Boss is completely decided to get the Restaurant, so he hires a group of Martial Arts experts, including the famous Colt (Chuck Norris) to eliminate Tang Lung.

After proving he was a bankable star, Bruce Lee finally got the opportunity of not only writing, but also directing his own film. Free at last to make his vision of a Martial Arts film come true, Lee builds up a film focused on two very personal themes for him. On one hand, his very own experience as a stranger in a strange land, and the feelings of being like a fish out of the water; and on the other, his ideal of the hero who uses his very own technique to fight against the established disciplines. While the plot is very straight forward, and a bit typical, Lee uses it effectively to showcase his own ideals and philosophies as martial artist, delivering finally an action film with some depth beyond watching the character overcome the enemies.

Borrowing heavily from Spaghetti Westerns (even some score by Morricone is used), Lee creates a magnificent epic set on the beautiful locations of Rome, where his lonely hero Tang Lung arrives as a modern day cowboy to right some wrongs. While of course not an expert filmmaker (it was after all, his first film as a director), Lee shows a great eye for visuals, as the camera becomes an essential part in the creation of the sublimely choreographed fights, and the highly stylish set pieces (again, influenced by Sergio Leone's westerns). "Meng Long Guojiang is definitely the basics for what Lee conceived as a Martial Arts film, and many of what he developed for this movie would become of great influence for future directors of the genre.

Due to his character in "Enter the Dragon", most people remember Bruce Lee's acting as a serious, dark personification of the perfect martial arts warrior, however, "Meng Long Guojiang" is a chance to discover a way different side of Lee's persona, as he allows himself to be as funny and human as skilled in Kung-Fu. "Way of the Dragon" offers insight into Lee as a comedy actor, as Tang Lung's personality (and probably Bruce's real one too) is that of a happy man who enjoys life. The rest of the cast ranges from good to average, with one amazing exception: Ping-Ao Wei. As the treacherous translator Ho, Ping-Ao Wei delivers one of the best comedic performances of his career, and an excellent (and effective) comic relief for the film.

As written above, the cast (mostly the case of the many extras in the film) most of the time doesn't seem up to the challenge of the film, and the awful dubbing done doesn't really help with that. Another truly big problem is that Lee didn't had enough budget to fulfill his vision and in some scenes it really shows. This two problems really hurt the film badly, and while Lee's inexperience behind the camera is quite obvious, it's safe to say that he delivered a great job against the odds. The epic tone of the film and the superb climatic scenes really make up for the notorious flaws the film has, and one gets to wonder how would "Game of Death" may had turned up if Lee had lived enough to complete it.

It's a shame that Lee died so soon and was unable to craft his ultimate Martial Arts film, leaving the world wondering what would he do to top this film (and the reliable sources agree that "Game of Death" was really going to be his best). This flawed masterpiece may not be perfect, but it's monumental when one realizes how influential it became. Sure, "Enter the Dragon" may be the better film of the two, but "Meng Long Guojiang" is the film that shows us how Lee really was, and what he really believed in. In more than one sense, "Meng Long Guojiang" is truly, the real Way of the Dragon.
Super Reviewer
February 3, 2008
Chuck Norris vs Bruce Lee, end of story.
Super Reviewer
March 3, 2007
Bruce Lee v Chuck Norris in Rome! Cool!!!
Super Reviewer
October 30, 2006
Worth it just to see Bruce Lee beat the shit out of a hairy-backed Chuck Norris.
Super Reviewer
½ October 23, 2006
Cool kung fu of Bruce Lee who squares off against karate legend Chuck Norris for the most exciting one-on-one encounters ever committed to celluloid.
Super Reviewer
½ December 22, 2011
Bruce Lee plus comedy equal gold in Return of the Dragon. While it's a unusual movie compared to other of Bruce Lee classic, it'a still a entertaining to watch.

Bruce Lee both wrote and directed Return of the Dragon, by watching the movie you wouldn't be able to tell it's Bruce Lee first and only time directing a movie. Like his Martial Arts, he does it with grace and flows easily to watch.

Main plot is Bruce Lee plays a man who visits his relatives at their restaurant in Italy and has to help them defend against brutal gangsters harassing them. It has a good blend of drama and humor, though I think it lack in Martial Art when compared to Enter the Dragon or Fists of Fury.

It's still to this day that Bruce Lee died unprecedentedly, he had a bright future many more bright ideas. This movie reminds us of what could have been a legendary career of Martial Art cinema Icon.
Super Reviewer
½ October 22, 2007
It's good, but the icing on top is watching Bruce Lee fight Chuck Norris at the Coliseum of Rome. Great stuff!
Super Reviewer
May 6, 2009
The martial arts sequences are awesome and show Lee's growing confidence as a choreographer. The story is typical chop socky, but is still enjoyable. The overdubbing still makes you want to laugh.
Super Reviewer
August 15, 2006
Can't remember much about this film except Bruce Lee. Made the mistake of setting it in Italy though.
Super Reviewer
October 11, 2008
Another good one by Bruce Lee, this time, mixing hard-hitting kung-fu with comedy. The film is set in Rome, a good location handpicked by Lee himself. Bruce Lee's greatest effort, as he starred in it and also directed it. The Colosseum fight to the death between Lee and Chuck Norris is unforgettable.
Super Reviewer
December 23, 2007
Great movie!
Super Reviewer
½ November 4, 2007
I love all Bruce Lee movies...I grew up on them.
Super Reviewer
August 1, 2007
my favorite of all the bruce lee films, this one ends with him facing none other then the allmighty chuck norris
½ April 25, 2016
Return of the Dragon (1974) ?? 1/2
Third Lee film about his trip to Italy and his decision to help his relatives defend against gangsters causing them harm. Pretty good Kung Fu film, mostly remembered for its final fight with Chuck Norris in Colosseum. Followed by ENTER THE DRAGON.
February 16, 2016
This one started out very strange, like a bizarre foreign comedy(funny, random dialogue, Lee's character having an odd reaction to a hot Italian babe who basically throws herself at him, one of the henchman looking like a carbon copy of Wolfman Jack) but when it comes down to it, the main draw was seeing Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris in an epic showdown that did not disappoint. It's no Enter the Dragon, but it's satisfying enough.
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