While browsing BlackStar for John Woo flicks I noticed new editions of Bruce Lee’s two best movies, Way of the Dragon and Enter the Dragon. All of these DVDs are RC2 by the way. There’s a new platinum edition of Way of the Dragon coming up but the only interesting new extra it seems to have is an interview with Bob Wall, the karate champion who had the dubious pleasure of getting kicked in the crotch by Bruce in both movies.
Anyway, both editions are (finally) complete – Enter the Dragon features Lee’s conversation with his master monk (or whatever) right after the initial fight, and a corresponding Kenobi-like voiceover in the final fight, as well as Bob Wall’s broken bottles assault which I hadn’t seen before. There’s also a bunch of interviews with Lee’s widow which are fairly informative, and a commentary by co-producer Paul Heller which is… less so. Mostly because he’s silent for most of the film. The advertised co-commentator Michael Allin (writer) phones in like 4 times, and that’s it. Gee, thanks a lot.
On the upside, there are some featurettes showing Bruce Lee in private & training. As for technical quality, it’s good but that wasn’t really a problem since this was Lee’s only “major” release (Warner Brothers) so all editions are fairly good as far as visual and audio quality is concerned, and this one is no exception.
Then we have Way of the Dragon which the colonists in the New World know as Return of the Dragon because it was released after Enter the Dragon over there. This one’s a Hongkong flick directed by Bruce Lee himself, and even the “Special Collector’s Edition” can’t make the picture look anything but crude. However, it does have a complete Colloseum fight (no distracting cuts here) and most importantly, the Cantonese soundtrack.
Lots of the (admittedly lame) humour relies on a Chinese who doesn’t speak a word of English coming to Europe and needing his local relative play translator for him. (Actually he’s coming to Italy where people would speak Italian rather than English but that’s apparently all the same to the Hongkong audience.) So the film rises from “totally retarded” to “amusingly idiotic” thanks to the subtitled Cantonese soundtrack, and I think that’s an improvement!
There’s also a rambling but informative commentary by American-born Hongkong film insider Bey Logan, occasionally joined by the “Big Boss” Jon Benn who is also interviewed separately. Did you know that Lee’s relatives were all played his buddies (including the family butler) while the Italian thugs were random tourists grabbed off the Hongkong streets? Yeah, I know you guessed it but now you know for sure!
Anyway, the fight between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris still kicks the shit out of all the wire kung-fu made ever since. Disappointingly the DVD doesn’t comment on whether Lee actually broke Norris’ arm and leg, as the rumour goes, so I guess he actually didn’t. Oh well.