The Way of the Dragon (1972)

wayofthedragon_1The Way of the Dragon [猛龍過江] (1972)
AKA Return of the Dragon, Revenge of the Dragon, Fury of the Dragon

Starring Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, Ngai Ping-Ngo, Wong Chung-Shun, Gam Dai, Unicorn Chan, Lau Wing, Jon T. Benn, Chuck Norris, Whang In-Shik, Robert Wall, Malisa Longo, Robert Chan Law-Bat, Chen Fu-Ching

Directed by Bruce Lee

Expectations: High, it’s Bruce Lee!

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With The Way of the Dragon, Bruce Lee stepped into the role of writer/director along with the acting and choreography roles he had inhabited on his previous two Hong Kong films. As a result, The Way of the Dragon is much more reflective of Bruce Lee’s personality than his films under Lo Wei. Depending on your viewpoint, this could be a good or bad thing. For me (someone who enjoys the work of Lo Wei far more than other kung fu fans seem to), it was somewhere in the middle. I have always thought this was the least of Bruce’s films, and today’s viewing only solidified that for me. But this time, I think I understood why I’ve always been somewhat disinterested with the film.

Taking this film as evidence, it would seem that Bruce Lee’s relationship with Lo Wei was somewhat similar to Lo’s later relationship with Jackie Chan. Both stars wished to express themselves through more than just the traditional notes of what a martial arts film was at the time. Both stars immediately integrated comedy and martial arts in their films away from Lo. Jackie was obviously the more successful in doing so — does anyone know Bruce for his comedy? — but both stars clearly wanted to push the genre beyond what their initial director wanted to let them.

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The Expendables 2 (2012)

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Scott Adkins, Nan Yu, Amanda Ooms, Charisma Carpenter, Nikolette Noel

Directed by Simon West

Expectations: Pretty high. JCVD, man!


You want some action? WELL THEN WE HAVE SOME INCREDIBLE, JAW DROPPING, EXPLOSIVE, MEN WITH MUSCLES ACTION FOR YOU! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! BOOM! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! BOOM! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! BOOM! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! KABOOM!

This approximates the opening scene of The Expendables 2, and for my money it was worth the price of admission. I had to restrain myself from literally leaping up and making the most primal noise my thin, feeble frame could muster. Nevermind that we later get Arnold, JCVD, Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris showing up in varying degrees, this immediately explosive opening is something to be reckoned with. While it played out, I imagined writing a four-star review for the film and how I’d buy it on Blu-ray and watch it any time I felt less than a man. So when the dust finally settled (the scene is quite long and full of cascading “Oh shit!” moments), I was disappointed to find that it would be a long time until the next legitimate action scene, and that nothing in the film would live up to its opening. But that’s OK, because even if the opening completely blows the film’s wad, the rest of the film is quite entertaining.

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Stephen reviews: The Expendables 2 (2012)

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Scott Adkins, Nan Yu, Amanda Ooms, Charisma Carpenter, Nikolette Noel

Directed by Simon West


Expendables was a huge riot of nonstop action without much purpose beyond reveling in its own masculinity. So the only thing you can do with the sequel is make it bigger, badder, and bolder. That’s just what Expendables 2 tries to do, but it’s honestly hard to top the intensity of the first one. It does manage to succeed at this lofty goal, but by how much? Well, not a whole lot. Expendables 2 is a better movie, but your opinion of the first one will probably be the same the second time around.

One major improvement I do have to mention is the FX. The first film had some of the ugliest CG to ever ruin a bloody killing spree. Thankfully, those ridiculous looking exploding bodies, that laughable man on fire, and the worst, to me at least, that wince inducing scene where Stallone stabbed a dude in the neck were not used this time around. I apologize for dredging up bad memories, but I want you to realize just how much easier it is to watch the film because of the improved FX work. I spent the first film waiting for the next terrible CG effect to pop up, but in this film I forgot to think about the FX after the first ten minutes. That alone makes this movie superior to the original.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: The Expendables 2 (2012) →

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