Dragon’s Ascension: Enter the Dragon

Bruce Lee was on fire in 1972.  Each of his Hong Kong films broke Asian box office records greater than the last.

Naturally, Hollywood wanted in on the action, despite having driven him away years earlier. At the time, the studio heads were reticent to portray an Asian in any more than a supporting role, even to the point of giving the role that was tailor made for Lee, the Shaolin monk in the Kung Fu television series, to David Carradine, a white actor with no martial arts experience. Now that Lee was an international star and a guaranteed moneymaker, Warner Brothers decided to change its tune and offer Bruce his own big-budget […]

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Heart of the Dragon: Way of the Dragon

So far, my odyssey of Bruce Lee has toured The Big Boss, a flawed film saved solely by Lee’s presence, and Fist of Fury (aka Chinese Connection), a fittingly grand revenge tale with jaw dropping-action.

Even though Fist of Fury was a huge improvement on The Big Boss, I felt the director, Wei Lo, still didn’t understand exactly what he had in Lee. Of course, the only person capable of understanding Lee’s full potential was the man himself, so it was fitting that for his next movie, Way of the Dragon, Lee parted ways with Wei and took directing into his own lightning fast hands […]

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Dragon Justice: Fist of Fury

The Big Boss established several rules for making a great Bruce Lee movie, mostly by getting them wrong.

The number one rule, which should have been obvious, would be to make Bruce Lee the focus of the movie. The second rule would be letting Bruce Lee do what he did best, be a cool motherf’er. The third rule: let Bruce Lee do a lot of fighting. While it is impossible to keep Bruce from being cool, The Big Boss fumbles on rules 1 and 3 […]

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Tease the Dragon – The Big Boss

What was it about Bruce Lee that made him the eternal icon of action cinema?

He wasn’t the first star of the kung fu wave. Shaw Brothers Studio had been steadily churning out heroic martial arts fantasy flicks years before Lee got into the game, and cheaply dubbed versions were already showing up in American grindhouse theaters. He certainly was one of the most talented and innovative martial artists in history, but that alone doesn’t explain it, either.  I break it down to something simpler: Bruce Lee was the coolest son of a bitch ever to walk the Earth. He was so cool that both Steve McQueen and James Coburn were […]

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Dreaming of a Red Christmas

Ah, Christmas, a wondrous season of love, peace, and harmony. A celebration of joy and kindness.  Why then, cinematically speaking, are we so fascinated by yuletide carnage?

With the exception of Halloween, no other holiday has racked up such a body count. And I’m not only talking about horror movies here. If we add in the death toll from all the action movies set during Christmas […]

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Franchise Your Way

1992 was the year of my greatest existential crisis.

This crisis was not brought about by such trivial concerns as mortality, the nature of evil, or humanity’s place in the universe. No, the source of my angst was far more pressing. It was Alien 3.

Let me elaborate. James Cameron’s Aliens was, and still is, my favorite movie. The film is very important to me for both personal and artistic reasons. The ending left me feeling as warm and hopeful as little Newt tucked into her hypersleep cocoon. After such a satisfying conclusion, how could I resist another chance to see Ripley […]

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