Friday, September 2, 2011

Way of the Dragon

Way of the Dragon
seen online via YouTube

Every time I pass by one of those Tiger Schulmann martial arts schools, I always see a bunch of kids in a class - usually little ones, maybe anywhere from 6-10 years old. I can't help but wonder how many of them are there at their parents' urging, or because they genuinely expressed a desire to learn kung fu. I'm cynical enough to think that for some parents, it's a status thing - maybe it's in the way one often sees the parents on the side, eagerly watching their special little snowflake wrestling on the mat with some other while chatting with other parents about their vacation plans. Yes, you can probably say the same thing about being on the soccer team or taking violin lessons, but I guess I see martial arts differently from stuff like that. Anyway...

I was kinda disappointed at watching a Bruce Lee movie that barely has Bruce Lee in it for my Kung Fu week, so I felt like I oughta pick out another, presumably better, one instead, so last night I watched Way of the Dragon, the only film written and directed by the man himself. I suspect the entire movie was written for the sole purpose of staging a badass fight between Lee and Chuck Norris in the Roman Colosseum, because everything leading up to that was corny as hell.

As a filmmaker, Lee did make Way look like a kung fu movie, though that's not to say he filmed anything as visually breathtaking as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. His story, however, is considerably less than epic. The first twenty minutes or so feel more like a Jackie Chan movie with its ridiculous attempts at humor, the bad guy's motivation is not really given much explanation, and there's an embarrassing gay stereotype as the bad guy's right hand man. Even most of the fights seem beneath Lee somehow. The only one worthy of giving him anything resembling a challenge is Norris, and that, of course, is the climax of the movie. Everybody else comes off as third-rate.

I realize one does not normally come into a kung fu movie looking for depth, but I guess I thought with Lee it'd be different, since his legend looms so large over the genre. Oh well.

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