The Way of the Dragon is the martial arts extravaganza that brought us the epic fight between Bruce Lee & Chuck Norris. Apart from that, Way of the Dragon is probably my fourth favorite Bruce Lee film by default. There’s definitely a stronger lean towards comedy different from Fist of Fury or The Big Boss. Not that Bruce Lee’s accomplished martial arts action doesn’t shine through. He also wrote, produced, and directed the film himself. Tang is much more of a fish out of water getting himself into awkward situations since he doesn’t speak much English. The movie’s only nude scene involves him accidentally picking up a prostitute.
Tang travels to Rome where he meets the lovely restaurant owner Chen and her Uncle Wang. Tang is used for his martial arts skills when their restaurant is threatened by gangsters led by their big boss Ho. Bruce Lee’s knowledge of different fighting techniques is displayed when he uses karate and Chinese boxing all while continuing to dance around. He teaches this to the restaurant staff so that they can defend themselves. Another highlight is Tang’s use of a bo staff and two nunchucks at once. Way of the Dragon was retitled Return of the Dragon after Bruce Lee’s tragic death.
It’s far more international since martial arts were still so popular in America. That’s where Chuck Norris comes in. Before he became a living legend, Norris was just a humble martial artist playing Colt opposite his Chinese counterpart. Their 10 minute Coliseum fight more than lives up to the legend. Norris’ hairy chest couldn’t be more different than Lee’s bare chest, but they are very evenly matched. They adopt each other’s style all while a cat watches. In the end, Tang shows respect for his opponent when forced to take him out. Way of the Dragon is more lightweight, but it knows when to leave an impact.