Return of the Dragon (The Way of the Dragon) (1974)

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Bruce Lee's pre-Enter the Dragon outing is a surprising change of pace from his usual hard-hitting action fare because it favors humor as much as it does kung-fu. It's also notable because it represents Lee's only venture as a director. For the most part, Return of the Dragon works thanks to its charismatic star. Lee shows great comic timing in the humorous set pieces in addition to the usual physical prowess he displays during the action scenes. He also manages to utilize both skills at once on occasion, the best example being a scene where he squares off with a group of mobster goons at a restaurant. It also benefits from its picturesque Italian setting (a novel location for a kung-fu film) and an impressive fight finale between Lee and Chuck Norris (making his film debut). On the down side, the film's low-budget shows and the other performers all pretty much pale in comparison to Lee. However, the real flaw with Return of the Dragon lies in its ending, which features a last-minute twist that doesn't work because it is too unexpectedly tragic for a film that had previously been so lighthearted. Despite this misstep, it remains a likeable blend of kung-fu and comedy that is likely to bring a smile to the face of Bruce Lee fans. ~ Donald Guarisco, Rovi

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

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (1)

This sort of stuff is magnificently silly, and Lee, to give him credit, never tried to rise above it.

Apr 29, 2018 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Bruce F*@king Lee!

Jul 27, 2007 | Rating: 4/5

Certainly the only movie in history to have Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris do battle in the Roman Colosseum.

Nov 18, 2005 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Strip down the excess of strange characters and bizarre humour, and you have Bruce: mesmerising, fast, witty, and one of the rare examples of true screen magnetism.

May 30, 2001 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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

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.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris. Even today the world's not ready for the epic-ness of this film.

Joshua Wilburn
Joshua Wilburn

Super Reviewer

½

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.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer

½

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.

Lewis C.
Lewis C.

Super Reviewer

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