I couldn’t believe some of the things this man did with his life, and then a Bruce Lee fan was born. The only problem was that in years to come I came to realize that this movie was 70% fiction, with a tiny bit of truth mixed in for that ‘authentic’ feeling.
Let’s sum things up – this movie starts off with Bruce Lee (eventually played by Jason Scott Lee as an adult – no relation) as a child and his upbringing. We then follow through to his legal trouble before leaving to go to America and start a new life at the age of 18. Once there he faces some difficulties before getting an education and eventually teaching Kung Fu to some of his friends.
Eventually he meets his wife Linda Emery, gets in trouble with the Kung Fu teachers in town, defeats their top fighter, becomes famous and eventually ends up a movie star before the film touches on his early death.
So that was a quick summary but the way this story is told is really inspirational.
As they say – never let the truth get in the way of a good story!
I gotta do this for people who don’t know the difference – some of the ridiculous plot changes that changed Bruce’s story from true to fictional.
Straight away most of the fights are thrown in just for the hell of it – but you can expect that since it’s a Bruce Lee ‘tribute’ movie. We see the fight with Bruce and Wong Jack Man – who has been renamed to Johnny Sun – instead of having him show up at his school (which would’ve been a cool scene), we go to some empty building that kind of resembles a temple on the inside and they fight it out, before Johnny Sun gets all pissy and fly kicks Bruce’s back – damaging his spine.
Jumping fly kicks are cool and all, but it was an accident that actually happened lifting weights, not in a fight.
There’s the inevitable rematch with Bruce and Sun, but this is entirely fictional – which sucks because that was a really inspirational turning point in the film where Lee stops being walked over and starts to get the respect and fame he deserves.
I can’t go past the demon! Bruce faces a gigantic demon which threatens his family, he eventually beats him with nunchaku though so it’s all cool. I honestly don’t think anyone who knew Bruce recalls any discussion about a dream demon attacking him at random times.
That’s not everything but it illustrates the point. The real story could’ve been told just as well with a little bit of creative story telling methods so I was quite disappointed when I learned these things. But you could say the movie tells his story ‘symbolically’. I get the metaphor – every struggle is a fight between every man has his demons…
…but hopefully they do an actual truthful Bruce Lee movie one day.
Without the focus on story authenticity, this movie is friggin’ awesome!
Bruce’s story is told in such a way that pumps you up with every step. Seeing him overcome racism, a possibly crippling medical condition and eventually breaking through the resistance of the movie industry to sign on for Enter the Dragon is really motivational! No one can really adapt Bruce’s charisma like the man himself, but Jason Scott Lee does him justice and the acting of the entire cast is pretty solid.
You get a basic idea of the direction of Bruce’s life, and the effect on the people around him. Most importantly you get a feel for what Bruce was all about and how he attacked life (as far as I know, I never met Bruce – he died 10 years before I was born!). It’s really is a solid movie to watch.
The Action & Martial Arts
Why not throw in some flashy fight scenes to show off Bruce Lee’s prowess? This movie has a few nice fight scenes spread nicely throughout the film.
The quality is pretty nice too, there’s a great variety of movements which Bruce uses, but they opt for a Hong Kong movie style by using flips and fancy kicks in their fights as opposed to aiming for realism. This makes each fight entertaining to watch. Of course the usual Bruce Lee screams and body language are all present – and yes, he tastes his own blood before jumping into action!
The fighting style doesn’t really remind me of Bruce’s but considering that Jason Scott Lee wasn’t a Martial Artist he did a top job, and offers a solid Martial Arts performance.
If it were a true story, it would rank so much higher on my list. Saying that, it’s a cool movie with some good fight scenes. I recommend it for that and also the motivational factor. It’s still a classic in my mind, just a fictional one.
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Dragon – the Bruce Lee Story [DVD]